Seth Waugh: A Quiet Pragmatist on Ball Changes

by | May 16, 2024 | News

PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh is nothing if not pragmatic. After all, he didn’t become CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas by fighting every fight to the death. That’s why – even when it comes to a divisive issue such as the USGA/R&A decision to roll back golf ball distance beginning in 2028, Waugh comes across as a quiet voice of reason, despite the fact he’s on record as being against the roll back.

This past August, Waugh wrote that the proposed rollback changes “could seriously interrupt the current momentum in the game and be fundamentally damaging and detrimental in the long run,”

Fast-forward to this week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY. Waugh hasn’t changed his stance, but his language is a bit more measured.

“We totally understand what the USGA and R&A are trying to do, which is protect the game for the next 50 years, and respect that,’’ Waugh said. “We also don’t always have to totally agree on everything. We are very thankful that they went from bifurcation, which we thought would be a disaster, particularly for our — for the game. It would have created chaos, and our 30,000 (Pro professionals) would have been on the frontline of trying to police that, which is, you know, a very tough position.

“You don’t want your head pro to be checking people’s balls on the first tee. It’s just not a very pleasant thing to have to do right.

We are thankful that they went to one rule for all, which we agree with. We are thankful that they reduced the speed at which they were testing and we are thankful that they pushed it out. We would have gone less, and we also probably would have extended the comment period, in a perfect world, so we have a ”hard issue’’ that’s still generating conversations within the golf industry.

“Nobody really knows if we are reaching human limits at this point or not or whether we are reaching technology limits or not. But our perspective was, anything that would make the game harder and less fun is probably not something we are for, while we are finally having the moment of growth that we have begged for forever.’’


About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Steve Pike</a>

Steve Pike

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career covers Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World, and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the website for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa, and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California.