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Florida Couldn't Save PGA of America, Loses It to Texas

December 6, 2018 - 12:30pm

Palm Beach County tried hard to keep it, but in the end Frisco, Texas made PGA of America an offer it couldn't refuse.

 So, after 50 years in Palm Beach Gardens, the nation's premier professional golfing organization with its 29,000 members, is moving to the Dallas suburb and bringing with it some big-time tournaments. The move, which will happen in 2022, was formally announced Tuesday.

PGA of America has said it will invest in the more than $500 million project that includes a hotel, convention center, retail space and two golf courses on 600 acres.

Seth Waugh, CEO of PGA of America -- who has lived in Palm Beach County for more than 30 years -- told The Palm Beach Post  what sold him on the deal was the potential of turning Frisco into what he terms “the Silicon Valley of golf.”

The newspaper claims the PGA Board of Directors decided some three years ago the organization had outgrown its current site. Waugh was "the point man on a committee that began reaching out to a dozen communities about two years ago to solicit proposals for a new headquarters ..." 

The two new golf courses, which Palm Beach Gardens was unable to provide, will host two PGA Championships -- in 2027 and 2034 -- and possibly even a future Ryder Cup.

Waugh said Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach County, Enterprise Florida and even Florida Gov. Rick Scott were involved in proposals that would keep the organization in the area.

Kelly Smallridge, CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, said everybody leaned into the retention project, but ultimately “it simply was very hard to compete with the Frisco package.”

"Our move to Frisco will be transcendent for the PGA of America," the CEO explained in a written statement. "Everything great starts with a dream. This is the beginning of a bold, new journey as we bring together world-class partners in a world-class location -- to deliver innovative and differentiated experiences for our nearly 29,000 PGA golf professionals, golfers of all abilities and our staff."

Here is what future PGA Championships will now look like in terms of venue, according to CBS Sports

  • 2019: Bethpage Black (Bethpage, N.Y.)
  • 2020: Harding Park (San Francisco, Calif.) 
  • 2021: Kiawah (Kiawah Isand, S.C.)
  • 2022: Trump National (Bedminster, N.J.)
  • 2023: Oak Hill (Pitsford, N.Y.)
  • 2024: Valhalla (Louisville, Kent.)
  • 2025, 2030 (undetermined): Southern Hills (Tulsa, Okla.)
  • 2026: Aronimink (Newtown Square, Penn.)
  • 2027: Frisco (TBD)
  • 2028: Olympic Club (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • 2029: Baltusrol (Springfield, N.J.)
  • 2031: Congressional (Bethesda, Md.)
  • 2032: N/A
  • 2033: N/A
  • 2034: Frisco (TBD)

The Ryder Cup backup is even deeper because U.S. venues are slated through 2036. 

"For years, the PGA of America has served its membership all across the nation where they engage their local communities, and help to raise over $4 billion annually," Texas governor Greg Abbott said. "The decision to relocate their headquarters to Texas because of our business-friendly climate is a welcome one. I thank the PGA of America for the new jobs and investment that they will bring to the City of Frisco, wish them continued success, and welcome them to the Lone Star State, the home of champions."

Waugh told the Post PGA of America will demonstrate its ongoing commitment to Palm Beach County by making a “significant investment” in the building it owns down the road from PGA National Resort.

“This all started because our facilities are aged, so we’re going to make it a great home for the 100 or so folks who are going to stay (in Palm Beach Gardens),” he said. “We want it to be world class and we’re starting to look at the plans for that.

“It’s not like we’re staying for a little while and then moving everybody to Frisco. It’s meant to be a permanent home here.”

He said PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, a facility owned and operated by PGA of America, "will continue to function and serve as the home of what is known as the Winter Series, competitive tournaments set up for club pros from the Northeast during the time their courses are closed." But in time, its expansive Port St. Lucie teaching facility likely will move to Frisco, too.

CBS sportswriter Kyle Porter who studies the golfing scene calls Palm Beach Gardens-to-Frisco a big shift in the power structure of professional golf. "Coupled with the PGA Championship's move to May and the landscape looks a lot different today than it did two years ago," he said. "The PGA of America is a power player at the highest level, and a relocation for them affects everything."

The last time a major came to Texas was the 1969 U.S. Open.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith


I wonder what that will do to the local housing market.

Kelly Smallridge is one of the best Economic Development professionals in the country . I'm sure she and her team did everything possible to retain the PGA in Palm Beach . Unfortunately these type relocations often fueled by incentive packages ( think Amazon ) are part of the economic development process . It's why locales need professionals like Kelly BTW Texas ain't Palm Beach ... they will regret the move down the road FNero

Bye, bye!

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