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PGA of America faces scrutiny on growing the game


Welcome to the party of saying fact-based but unpopular things. We're an information provider for the golf industry that has challenged much of the existing industry wisdom and facts primarily provided by NGF to date. Keep publishing truth backed up by facts. Time will eventually prove these positions to be correct and all the people who yelled and screamed will fade into the background like cockroaches into the darkness as light is shined into previously hidden places.

Jim Koppenhaver, Pellucid Corp.

Obviously the PGA of America is a trade association with the primary objective of promoting its members professional interests. That it has done many good things for golf is the result of its secondary focus on the good of the game. This is the primary reason the USGA, however flawed, not the PGA of America or, for that matter, the PGA Tour, is the better guardian of the best interests of the game.

Randal P. Reed, Maryland State, GA.

As a PGA member, I take exception to many of Mr. Berner's observations and find them to be a personal rant about nothing in particular. The PGA as an organization is far from perfect, but when Mr. Berner makes the assertion that "...in reality most of what these PGA sections do is run dozens of tournaments for their own members and work on ways to get green grass pro shops to make a profit," has he really been to these sections to see how they operate and see what they do for golf in their areas, or is he just speaking of his limited experience with sections in the midwest. If it is the latter, then at best he is irresponsible as a journalist and his commentary on this and other subjects is suspect of containing any merit at all.

The only thing I believe the PGA is guilty of here is being a little slow to react and failing to be pro-active a couple of years ago. Five years ago "growing the game" was not a concern in most areas, but I feel the PGA is adapting and is willing to be dynamic in such unusual times. Does he remember how carefree we as Americans were before 9/11/01, and how the events of that day changed everything. The economy, the golf industry and the world are still feeling the effects, and we will for the rest of our lives. My point is that the decline of the greatest game and it's failure to bounce back "yesterday" can not solely be attributed to the PGA.

Some of your sponsors and golf facilities themselves also share much of the blame because of prohibitive prices. If Mr. Berner did some research, he would find that 98% of PGA Professionals do not own facilities. We work for them and do the best we can to promote the game and support our families. As individuals, we can revive the game on a personal level, 1, 10, 50, 100 golfers at a time. We are as an association, however, charged with the task of reviving this great game on the national level, and I for one look forward to my part of the challenge.

Tom Stone, via email

I think you are very misguided about what you think the PGA is all about. The PGA was designed to promote the PGA member. Think about it. We pay annual dues of around $400 to our national and state organizations to promote and support us. That is their job. A secondary goal would be to grow the game of golf and give back to our communities. The PGA is no different than any other professional organization. If you are looking for a "pure" promoter of the game, about as close as you can get is the USGA. Some may say it would be the single best promoter of the game of golf. But that is the mission statement of that group.

To think for one second that the PGA has ONLY one purpose and that is to promote the game for the average golfer is simply unfair. We as PGA professionals spend each day running leauges and tournaments for the average golfer. That is 95% of our jobs. I only play in one or two PGA events per year. Much fewer than my weekend counterparts. I guess I could be like you and make the same sterEotypes about anyone or anything. News reporters for one. I could go on for days about some of you guys and the conflicts I have had. But that wouldn't be FAIR, would it?

Scott Roth, Ames, IA

Mr Berner, YOU GOT BALLS! and congrats for not being afraid to verbally bare them for the golf world to see. You are right on in your statements regarding the many arrogant so called PGA members that absolutely DO NOT have time to converse, help or deal with a high handicapper unless they are willing to drop a grand or more in thier pro shop for an over rated golf set and sign up for a two year contract of lessons. I'm willing to bet 90% of those that wrote in to cancel their subs fit those described in the article, and for sure saw the potential for dollars slipping thru their fingers. If I want to be around arrogance, I'll go pick up my mother in law and drag her to the course...no contracts, and it won't cost me a few grand!

Laurence Tozzi, Granada Hills, CA

One of the great things about the USA is that we are all entitled to have an opinion about anything and everything. In an attempt to be consistent I salute your opinions and conclusions. However, I understand you are a golf writer of some renown and as such I find it difficult to fathom that you didn't research Golf 2020 and/or PGA2011 prior to writing your story.

As a direct result of Golf 2020, The PGA Tour, LPGA, USGA GCOA and a consortium of Golf Manufactures, Distributors and Associations have entrusted The PGA of America to Grow the Game and insure it's future. Might I suggest that you go to pga.com and click on Play Golf America or go directly to Play Golf America.com for the inside story on the PGA's efforts to Grow the Game. It's not what happens in the halls of a Section's homesite but what truly is taking place in hundreds of PGA facilities from coast to coast. Great things will kick off in the Midwest early in April. I hope you follow them and include them in future articles.

Kenneth F. Devine, Chief Executive Officer, Michigan PGA

After reading your article, I don't understand your position. Have you any idea what happens on the National Level of the PGA of America? It appears not. The National Officers, and Section Boards, do a tremendous job in promoting programs and opportunities for it's members, which in turn, promote the game of golf. It is true however, as in any profession, yours included, there are some professionals who do not take advantage of these opportunities and remain status quo. However, there are many who make the effort to better themselves and therefore make golf a better game for their members or clientele to the facilities in which they are employed.

Growing the game is not just about free lessons, group programs, or special events. It is about providing an atmosphere, an enjoyable experience of golf. It is about making an impression with the player, at whatever level, that they are welcome and this is a place they want to be. When you go and visit these fantastic courses and facilities around your area, what impressions are you left with? How were you treated? Was it enjoyable? Did you want to return?

Those experiences are provided to you from the direction of the PGA Head Professional at that facility! Much of that training comes from the programs provided by the PGA National and Sectional Boards! Look in the mirror, did you actually do the homework and research necessary to publish an article about the PGA of America's direction towards the business of golf, and the education of it's members, or are you just venting over the fact that there isn't a sponsor available to you for your self serving, self promoting radio show.

I challenge you to do some research and discover the truth about the educational programs, the certification levels and the grass root programs that are being offered. Again, not every PGA Professional will make the effort to better themselves, but those that do, will truly make golf a better game!

Michael Medeiros, PGA Head Professional, Concord, Mass.

It's good to hear a writer take a stand against the PGA. I Produce 'Golf Chicago," a weekly TV show that runs during the summer on Fox Sports Net Chicago. The Illinois PGA did some advertising with us for the first two years of our show with a "promise" of spending more dollars with us in 2004. But they turned our back us, and will not do any advertising this year. They claimed their board shot it down and could not afford to do any sponsoring of our program. Plus, over the two years we told the IPGA that they had our ear on various, or interesting stories within the section, but they never came up with anything. All they would say is "promote & cover" the Illinois Open. I really don't understand the PGA, other than they like to pat themselves on the back. Dave
Berner's article sure struck a chord.

Dave Lockhart, Chicago

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