The History of the American PGA
Dedicated to the promotion of the game of golf everywhere, the American Professional Golfers Association can trace it's origins to January 17, 1916, when a group of New York area golf professionals, accompanied by several prominent amateur golfers, attended a luncheon hosted by department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker at the Taplow Club in New York City. 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 professional.

Wanamaker, who viewed the public's growing enthusiasm for golf as the beginning of a national trend, promoted the association idea to help accelerate the growth of the game. Little did Wanamaker or his guests realize that they were laying the ground work for what would become the world's largest working sports organization. When that first meeting ended, James Hepburn, a former British PGA secretary, had been named to chair a seven-member organizing committee.

Meetings were held over the next two months, and on April 10, 1916, with constitution and by-laws firmly in hand, 82 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 the 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 which today still bears his name.

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 Matches, pitting PGA of America professionals against their British counterparts, were inaugurated in 1927 with a U.S. victory at Worcester (Mass.) Country Club, 9 1/2 to 2 1/2. The Matches have since become one of the great spectacles in all of sport, and in 1979, the British team incorporated players from Europe.

In 1933, George Jacobus became the first American-born president of the PGA of America. A dynamic and innovative leader, Jacobus was the first PGA officer to rise from the caddie ranks and was the first president to use the pages of The Professional Golfer to communicate directly with PGA members through a column in every issue.

The onset of World War II in Europe cancelled the Ryder Cup Matches in 1939. By 1941, when the PGA of America celebrated its 25th anniversary, membership had grown to 2,041.

The PGA Seniors' Championship, which began in 1937 at Augusta National 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.

Relocating the national office to Dunedin was discussed at the 1946 Annual Meeting, but the move didn't take place for another 10 years when the second floor of the Dunedin First National Bank Building became the PGAof America Headquarters.

The Association celebrated its 40th anniversary with 3,798 members and 31 sections. PGA members flocked to Dunedin in the winter, and the Association continued to grow. By 1961, the PGA had moved the national office to larger quarters in Baywood, Fla., six miles north of the PGA National Golf Club.

The Winter Tournament Program had grown to four events, and the PGA Merchandise Show - started in the parking lot of PGA National Golf Club by salesmen working out of their cars - now was being staged in large tents. The need for more office space and additional playing facilities for even more PGA events created the need for another move. 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.

PGA officials focused on the dynamic Florida east coast and began talking with Palm Beach County developer John D. MacArthur. At the time, MacArthur wanted the impact of the PGA name to help sell his Palm Beach Gardens development. It took several sessions for both parties to finally reach the agreement that was finalized on October 30,1964.

In March 1965, the Association moved into 10,000 square feet of office space in the east wing of the clubhouse in MacArthur's new country club, which for the next eight years would be known as PGA National Golf Club.

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 just playing toumaments 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, Fla. The PGA Tour and the PGA of America maintain a close working relationship, and most professional golfers maintain dual membership in the organizations.

In 1971, the 53rd PGA Championship, the first major golf championship ever held in Florida, was played at PGA National Golf Club. Two years later, the PGA's relationship with MacArthur ended and the national office was moved to a two-story office building in nearby Lake Park, Fla.

For the next eight years the PGA of America searched for a permanent home, one which offered enough space for an expanding staff and the golf facilities to accommodate a growing tournament program.

An agreement eventually was reached with developer E. Llwyd Ecclestone Jr. Ecclestone built a multi-course development on which the national office of the PGA of America is located, on a 2,300-acre complex known today as PGA National.

The PGA of America staff moved into its present national office in February 1981, with a staff of 63 that has since expanded to 125. The building was expanded in 1990.

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. The PGA International Golf Show has expanded by more than 59 percent after being acquired by the PGA.

As part of its directive to acquire world-class sites to host the PGA Championship, the PGA acquired the option to purchase Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., in 1993. In addition, the PGA opened the first of two 18-hole public golf courses at PGA Golf Club at The Reserve in St. Lucie County, Fla. The North Course opened Jan. 1, 1996, and the South Course is scheduled to open in the spring of 1996. In January 1995, the PGA purchased St. Lucie West Country Club, two miles from PGA Golf Club at The Reserve.
Valhalla Golf Club
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 club 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. However, the Association stands firm and continues to flourish on the principles that were set down by its founders.

(Courtesy of The Professional Golfers Association of America)


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