It was January 17, 1916 and assembled together in the Taplow Club department store in New York City was a group of golf professionals meeting to talk about a dream that would change the landscape of the golfing industry forever. The idea that brought them together was a shared interest to enhance the sales of golf equipment by forming an association. Then, shortly after on April 10th, 1916 with thirty-five members, the association was formed and named the Professional Golf Association of America.
At the time, the PGA of America had not only sewn the seed for an entire industry to blossom, it had paved the way for a community of passionate golfers to channel their love for the game into an established career. Over the course of the next one hundred years, the PGA of America would grow into the world’s largest sports organization, comprised of just over twenty-eight thousand men and women golf professionals, all whom are recognized experts in educating and growing the game of golf.
During the years of expansion, some of the most compelling facts are those that are stitched in the fabric of this community’s history, which engendered a sense of progress while also proving to be adaptable and relevant in times of social adversity.
It is widely known that during World War I and II the PGA Championships were cancelled, and although the Association encountered steady growth throughout the years, the PGA had to rebuild after losing members and players serving in the armed forces. It was not abnormal in that time span for the PGA to purchase and maintain ambulances for the Red Cross nor to head to military bases to distribute clubs and balls.
It was responsive actions like this that brought enjoyment to a community who was otherwise preoccupied with more serious issues. This passion for the game had time and again has brought people together. And although the circumstances societally were precarious, the values and goals of the PGA of America went unwavering.
In the 1970s an effort to grow the game of golf was made and the Association created programs for the game to be more inclusive, diverse, and family oriented. The PGA launched initiatives such as the Play Golf America, which aimed at attracting new golfers to the sport and the movement inspired the community to embrace programs like Women’s Golf Month and Patriot Golf Day. One of their most notable initiatives is The PGA Reach, which has aimed to empower youth, military and minority golfers with affordable equipment and meaningful events.
In their most recent years, they have teamed up with the LPGA and the KPMG to create the first ever women’s major conducted by the PGA of America, which commenced in 2015 at Westchester Country Club in New York.
As the PGA of America continued to build a shining organization for the development of golf professionals, the Association’s ability to recognize the greater needs of a worldwide community have strengthened their mission to inspire players to enjoy the game more, which has beautifully reinforced their legacy in the past century. That is a cause worth celebrating. Cheers to another hundred from 18Birdies!