From the PGA

Seth Waugh Steps Down as PGA of America CEO, Shifts to Advisory Role

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The PGA of America today announced that CEO Seth Waugh has decided to step aside as CEO and shift to an advisory role.
“On behalf of the more than 30,000 PGA of America Golf Professionals, we are grateful for Seth’s leadership and for all that he accomplished for our Members, our game, the business and our people,” said PGA of America President John Lindert, PGA Director of Golf at The Country Club of Lansing in Lansing, Michigan. “He skillfully led us through incredibly challenging times and was always a great partner. We are fortunate to be able to call on him going forward for his always helpful advice and counsel.”
A national search for a new CEO, which will include internal and external candidates, is underway. During the transition, Chief Championships Officer Kerry Haigh will serve as interim CEO. Haigh, who has been a key member of the PGA of America leadership team since 1989, will not be part of the candidate pool for the new CEO position.
Waugh, who was named CEO in August 2018 following a three-year term as an independent director on the PGA of America Board of Directors, has served the Association for nearly nine years.
“I recently informed the board that I would not be renewing my contract that is set to expire on June 30, but am honored to continue to serve the Association as a Senior Advisor,” said Waugh. “It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve as the CEO of the PGA of America for the past six years.
“I am proud of all that we have accomplished for our more than 30,000 Members and the game. I have enjoyed every moment serving alongside all of my colleagues, all the various Officers and Board Members and getting to know so many of our dedicated Members who are on the front line of the game that we love every day of the year. The day-to-day game has never been stronger, more beloved or better positioned for the future because of their passion and how we have all worked together to make millions of lives better through our remarkable sport.
“The goal from the start was to leave the room better than we found it and I believe that together we have done just that. Golf has never been younger or a better reflection of the greater population. It's never been more forward leaning, more popular or considered cooler than it is today. I have often said that golf is one of the great engines of good on earth. I am perhaps the biggest all-time beneficiary of that good and I want to thank the Membership, my colleagues, all the various Board Members, Past Presidents, our extraordinary partners, my peers at all the other golf bodies, as well as everyone who plays and loves our beautiful game for all the support and friendship during this journey. What a gift that has been. Thank you."
Waugh’s list of accomplishments is impressive: As a board advisor, he played a key role in developing the PGA of America’s landmark 11-year media rights agreements with CBS and ESPN. As CEO, he completed complex agreements on the transformational $500 million public/private partnership with Omni Hotels & Resorts, the City of Frisco, its Economic and Community Development Corporations and the Frisco Independent School District that made the highly successful PGA Frisco and home of the PGA of America a reality. He helped advance the business of the PGA of America in many ways, including groundbreaking partner deals with Rolex and T-Mobile. He helped expand the impact of the PGA of America REACH Foundation by spearheading a $100 million capital campaign to “Impact Lives Through Golf.”
Fulfilling a promise made when he was named CEO, Waugh engineered the first deferred compensation retirement plan for PGA of America Members. During Waugh’s tenure as CEO, the number of PGA of America Golf Professionals surpassed 30,000 for the first time, average compensation has never been higher and Member satisfaction scores reached an all-time high.
Perhaps most notably, Waugh skillfully led the PGA of America during the uncertain times of the pandemic. Under his guidance, the PGA led in establishing the nearly $8 million Golf Emergency Relief Fund. For the Back 2 Golf initiative, important safety protocols were developed with the CDC, which led to historic rounds played growth. Waugh also reached across the industry to jointly repackage the golf events schedule, which included the PGA Championship being the first major championship to return to play without fans in 2020, and importantly, rescheduling the Ryder Cup to unprecedented success in 2021.
Waugh and the PGA of America also inspired the leading entities in golf to develop six industry work groups that designed the innovative “Make Golf Your Thing” movement to take advantage of the moment to grow the game generationally and advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the golf industry. Under Waugh’s leadership, the PGA advanced its inclusionary practices to help grow the game, while providing community access to golf through the launch of “PGA Places to Play” for underserved populations, where $1.75 million in grants has led to more than $35 million raised in support of projects across the country. Today the game has never had more participation or been a better reflection of society.
In 2022, Waugh was recognized by the One Hundred Black Men of New York with the Judge Robert Mangum Diversity Champion Award. He was also honored with the 2022 Sports Leadership Award for his “caring and transformational leadership” at the 39th Annual March of Dimes Sports Luncheon.