It’s hard to describe the magnitude of this week for me personally. On Saturday afternoon in Baltimore, my name will be placed in nomination for the President of the PGA of America. Barring unforeseen circumstances, it will be a situation that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would have cherished as I will most likely run unopposed.
That wasn’t the case in 2006 when I first decided to embark on this PGA Officer’s journey. I entered the race for Secretary as a new candidate. I chose to run against four men who had each lost in the 2004 election for PGA Secretary. In the history of the PGA, most Officers had to run more than once to get elected.
In 2006, I set a record that may never be broken. I became the only candidate to have more than 40 votes in the first ballot, lead after two ballots and lose the election on the third ballot. Traditionally there are approximately 110 ballots cast at our Annual Meeting. Each of the 41 PGA Sections has two votes for a total of 82. There are 14 National Directors; 3 Officers and usually about a dozen living Past Presidents who all vote.
Allen Wronowski, the current President, is the guy that won that ’06 election. He hails from Phoenix, MD and has been at Hillendale Country Club for over 30 years as an assistant and head golf professional. Wronowski worked for former PGA President Bill Clark and Allen was himself a loser of a tough election in 2004, which was decided on the seventh ballot.
I returned in 2008 and was opposed by Ted O’Rourke from New Jersey. He and I served on the PGA Board of Directors together. I won the ’08 election on the first ballot. PGA Officers serve two years as Secretary; two as Vice President and then two as President. Following that, an Officer serves a two-year stint as the Honorary President which means you are on the PGA Board of Directors and you serve in an advisory role when called upon by the Executive Committee.
As President my duties will include presenting the championship trophies at the PGA Championship, Senior PGA, PGA Grand Slam of Golf and I will represent the United States delegation at the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland. More importantly each day of my life for the next two years, I will represent our 27,000 PGA members and apprentices. The PGA of America is the largest working sports organization in the world today.
On Saturday, Derek Sprague from Malone, NY should be elevated to PGA Vice President and one of seven candidates will become the new PGA Secretary. Assuming I get elected on Saturday, I will become the 38th President in the history of the PGA of America. Considering the PGA was founded in 1916 and it has had thousands of members since, it’s pretty daunting to think that I will be only the 38th man in its history to be President.
I now serve on the PGA Tour Policy Board with Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Paul Goydos and Harrison Frazar. That term will last for two years and then I will serve on the Champions Tour Policy Board. I will work closely with Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA Tour over the next couple of years. I will do the same with Mike Davis with the USGA as well as the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland.
My first order of business on Saturday will be to announce our new Chief Executive Officer to the delegation. Our current CEO, Joe Steranka, is retiring after a 25-year career with the PGA. That same night I will swap PGA golf bags for a Baltimore Ravens jersey. John Harbaugh, Cam Cameron and Jim Caldwell will make the presentation. I was in Cameron’s wedding and had a close relationship with Caldwell when he was with the Colts. Those three will be my guests at The Masters next spring.
Next week I will head to our headquarters to do media training and introduce our CEO to PGA Staff. On Wednesday, we will be involved with some Ryder Cup planning before I return home to Franklin, IN.
Thanksgiving Week I am off to Augusta National on Monday and Tuesday. We have a meeting scheduled with the tournament operations staff and then a round of golf on Tuesday morning. Can’t help but remember those Thanksgiving weeks when I rabbit hunted with my dad outside of Logansport. I could have never dreamt I would someday be playing Augusta National that same week.
The next week I will be hosting approximately 25 PGA Committee Chairs and PGA Staff at The Legends. We will be involved in a summit meeting of sorts trying to set the direction of the PGA. Right after that in early December, it’s onto the South California PGA meeting and then to Florida for more Officer Planning with our CEO and Staff.
Finally, it will be a week in New York City doing more media training and spending time with our broadcast partners from NBC, CBS and Turner Sports. That same week we hope to announce our next Ryder Cup Captain. After that, I look forward to heading home for the Holidays and taking a deep breath before the PGA Merchandise Show in late January.
I can honestly tell you that this phase of my life was not pre-meditated. It just evolved. When I got started with the Indiana PGA back in the 1980’s I would never have guessed where it would take me. After Saturday, I will join Mickey Powell and Don Padgett as the Hoosiers who have been PGA Presidents. It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as those two. Indiana is one of a handful of PGA Sections to have three Presidents.