The PGA of America is the world's largest working sports organization, comprised of 28,000 men and women golf Professionals who are the recognized experts in growing, teaching and managing the game of golf, while serving millions of people throughout its 41 PGA Sections nationwide. Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has enhanced its leadership position in a multi-billion dollar golf industry by growing the game of golf through its premier spectator events, world-class education and training programs, significant philanthropic outreach initiatives, and award-winning golf promotions. Today's PGA Professional is the public's link to the game, serving an essential role in the operation of golf facilities throughout the country.
The PGA's origin can be traced to Jan. 17, 1916, when a group of New York-area golf professionals, accompanied by several prominent amateur golfers, attended a luncheon at the Taplow Club in New York City. The luncheon host was department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss forming a national organization, which would promote interest in the game of golf and help elevate the vocation of golf professionals.
Wanamaker, who viewed the public's growing enthusiasm for golf as the beginning of a national trend, promoted the idea of an association to help accelerate the growth of the game. Little did Wanamaker or his guests realize that they were laying the groundwork for what would become the world's largest working sports organization.
Meetings were held over the next two months, and on April 10, 1916, with constitution and by-laws firmly in hand, 35 charter members created The Professional Golfers' Association of America in New York City. The Association's first order of business was to establish the organization's objectives. The members agreed to the following:
- Promote interest in the game of golf
- Elevate the standards of the golf professional's vocation
- Protect the mutual interest of its members
- Hold meetings and tournaments for the benefit of members
- Assist deserving unemployed members to obtain positions
- Establish a benevolent relief fund for deserving members
- Accomplish any other objective, which may be determined by the Association from time to time
The first PGA Championship was held Oct. 9-14, 1916, at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N.Y. Jim Barnes defeated Jock Hutchison, 1-up, in the finals. Wanamaker honored his pledge and donated a purse of $2,580 and the trophy that still bears his name today.
In May 1920, the first issue of The Professional Golfer of America was published. Percy C. Pulver, a golf writer for the New York Evening Sun, who had attended the first meeting at the Taplow Club, was named editor. The magazine was renamed PGA Magazine in 1977, and today is America's oldest golf publication.
The Ryder Cup, which first matched PGA Professionals and their counterparts from Great Britain, started in 1927 with a 9 1/2 to 2 1/2 U.S. victory at Worcester (Mass.) Country Club. The Ryder Cup has developed into one of the preeminent events in all of sports, and in 1979, underwent a key renovation, when players from Europe joined the former British team.
The Senior PGA Championship, which began in 1937 at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club at the invitation of course founder Bobby Jones, was moved to Dunedin, Fla., in 1945, and remained there through 1962. In 1954, Dunedin also became the home of the PGA Winter Tournament Program and the site of the PGA Merchandise Show.
The PGA Merchandise Show has since found a home in the spacious Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The Show is the world's largest golf exposition.
When The PGA of America was formed, there was no distinction between club and touring Professionals. As The PGA began to develop and promote tournaments, it became easier for the touring Professionals to devote their efforts to playing tournaments and exhibitions. In 1968, PGA tournament players, who comprised a small percentage of the membership, broke away from the Association to form a Tournament Players Division and acquire more control of the tournament schedule.
In 1975, the Tournament Players Division was renamed the PGA Tour. Today, the PGA Tour is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The PGA Tour and The PGA of America maintain a close working relationship, and most professional golfers maintain dual membership in the organizations.
The PGA of America staff moved into its present national office in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in February 1981.
In 1992, The PGA purchased the rights to the 13-year-old International Golf Show, the world's second largest golf exposition, from the Southern California PGA Section. Today, it is the PGA Fall Expo, featuring some 500 exhibitors and nearly 35 educational conferences. In 1998, The PGA sold its equity interest in both golf expositions to Reed Exhibition Companies of Norwalk, Conn., while maintaining a strategic alliance with Reed that would promote the growth of PGA Expositions into the 21st Century.
As part of its directive to acquire world-class sites to host the PGA Championship, The PGA acquired Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. The complete purchase was solidified following the 2000 PGA Championship. In addition, The PGA opened two of three 18-hole public golf courses in 1996 at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The North Course of The PGA Golf Club made its debut on Jan. 1, 1996, and the South Course on May 16, 1996. The Dye Course was opened on Dec. 10, 1999.
Following a multi-million dollar renovation, The PGA Golf Club reopens its newly renovated courses in October 2006. The North Course is renamed the Ryder Course, in honor of Samuel Ryder, namesake for the Ryder Cup. The South Course is renamed the Wanamaker Course, in tribute to Rodman Wanamaker, the founder of The PGA of America, creator of the PGA Championship and donator of the Trophy that bears his name.
The first PGA Learning Center, a 35-acre state-of-the-art practice facility, made its debut on Dec. 27, 1999. Expanding its educational vistas, the PGA Education Center was erected adjacent to the PGA Learning Center and opened on Nov. 8, 2001. The PGA Education Center, a 23,560-square-foot facility, features more than 11,000 square feet of classroom space and provides cost efficient education programs to serve both PGA members and apprentice professionals.
On Dec. 4, 2002, the PGA Historical Center was dedicated at PGA Village. Located between the PGA Education and Learning Centers, the 8,300-square-foot facility celebrates the growth of golf in the United States, as paralleled by the advancements of The PGA of America. The PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame, which honors PGA members who have made significant and lasting contributions to The PGA of America and the game, is located at the back portico of the PGA Historical Center.
The PGA of America conducts more than 30 tournaments for its members and apprentices. Through a network of 41 Section offices, the Association maintains a total commitment to the PGA Professional, helping the membership meet the demands of today's marketplace and addressing vital issues, such as pace of play, environmental concerns and accessibility.
Since 1916, The PGA of America has established new standards of excellence, by expanding educational opportunities, programs and services for its members. In its 90th year, The PGA stands firm and continues to flourish on the principles that were established by its founders.