PGA Tour Merging With PGA Of America?

The PGA of America’s appointment of Seth Waugh as their new CEO, replacing the out-going Pete Bevacqua, hasn’t done anything to slow down industry rumors of a possible merger between two of the game’s most influential entities. 

With Waugh’s new title, his close relationship with current PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan as well as the pending negotiations and deals set to to expire/re-up in the next few years, questions surrounding merger between the two have only gained steam in the days since Waugh’s announcement.

Golfweek.com’s Geoff Shackelford wrote, “Why is an executive of (Waugh’s) prowess, reputation, bank account and career arc taking on this position? Or, to put it another way, why would a 60-year-old with 10 club memberships, a net worth of $80 million, expensive homes in nice places and golf’s most glorious tan/hair combo want to hear from 29,000 members about their excessive dues?”

Shackelford goes on to point out that the climate is ripe for such a consolidation of powers. From the PGA Tour’s side, a merger means they finally get their own major championship (the PGA of America runs the PGA Championship, not the PGA Tour), they also get a chunk of the Ryder Cup and, as perfectly illustrated by the parenthetical in this sentence, the widespread confusion among casual golf fans between the Tour and the PGA of America would be solved.

All of this sounds too good to be true, right? That’s the company line that Waugh and the PGA of America are taking currently.

“Someone told me about an article about a potential merger,” Waugh told GolfDigest.com’s Dave Shedlowski, likely referring to Shackelford’s piece. ““I certainly haven’t had any conversations about that, and I asked around and no one has,” Waugh said. “No one in the PGA (of America) headquarters has had any inkling of a conversation about that. I think it’s fun for people to speculate about things, but that’s all it is. There’s no substance to it at all.”

While Waugh publicly denies the possibility, Shackelford makes a compelling point about someone of Waugh’s stature coming out of semi-retirement to take on a seemingly day-in, day-out job and the tedious tasks that accompany it.

“Does Waugh really take the PGA job to quibble with (television executives) over commercial breaks-per-hour and then have a celebratory dinner when the deal is done? When he could be playing Cypress Point or Seminole or National Golf Links?

“Probably not. But stranger things have happened. And does a CEO of Waugh’s stature take a day job at this point in his life to fly to Texas to hear about the amazing millennial-friendly townhouses they’ll be building and to help pick out LED lighting for a headquarters building?

“Probably not. But stranger things have happened. No, Waugh taking the PGA of America job screams eventual merger. Or, ‘enhanced partnership.'”

It should be an interesting next few years for the PGA of America and the PGA Tour. 

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