Seth Waugh Steps Down as CEO of PGA of America

Seth Waugh, who has served as CEO of the PGA of America for six years, has announced his decision to step down and transition into a senior advisory role. His tenure saw a significant increase in golf participation and membership, as well as the relocation of the PGA headquarters from Florida to Texas.

Accomplishments and Legacy

Waugh, previously the CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, joined the PGA of America board as an independent director before being appointed CEO in 2018. Under his leadership, the organization experienced unprecedented growth:

  • Golf participation reached an all-time high, with notable increases among women and people of color.
  • Membership satisfaction and the average salary of professionals both hit record levels, with over 30,000 members and average salaries exceeding $100,000 for the first time.
  • He spearheaded the creation of a deferred compensation retirement plan for PGA of America members, a first in the organization's 110-year history.

Waugh's Reflections

Waugh expressed a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with the progress made during his tenure. He emphasized the importance of diversity in the sport and the generational growth among younger golfers, with nearly half of all golfers now under the age of 35.

“The game has never been in better shape. Participation is at an all-time high. It’s growing in all the ways we hoped it would,” said Waugh. “The fastest growth is women and people of color. We try to make the game look like the rest of the world, and maybe have the world behave more like our game.”

Future Plans and Transition

Waugh will continue to be involved in golf through his advisory role, attending key events such as The Open Championship, the Paris Olympics, and the Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black next year. The PGA of America has initiated a search for a new CEO, with Kerry Haigh, the current chief championships officer, serving as interim CEO but not as a candidate for the permanent position.


John Lindert, President of the PGA of America, praised Waugh's leadership and his ability to navigate challenging times. Fred Ridley, Chairman of the Masters, commended Waugh's steady and influential voice during a period of significant change in the golf world.

Looking Ahead

Waugh has no immediate plans post-Olympics but remains committed to the sport and its positive impact. He reflected on the purpose and mission behind his role, highlighting the long-lasting benefits of promoting golf to younger generations and its role in making lives better.

“I have often said that golf is one of the great engines of good on Earth,” he remarked. “I am perhaps the biggest all-time beneficiary of that good and I want to thank the membership, my colleagues, all the various board members, past presidents, our extraordinary partners, my peers at all the other golf bodies, as well as everyone who plays and loves our beautiful game for all the support and friendship during this journey.”

Waugh's departure marks the end of a transformative era for the PGA of America, with his impact likely to be felt for years to come.