Seth Waugh’s Numbers Game

by | May 17, 2024 | Business

While admitting that professional golf is “little messy right now – or the tour game is a little messy for sure,’’ PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said this week the game as a recreational sport “has never been better.’’

Speaking at this week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY., Waugh said the recreational game is growing in the “right ways.’’

Although he didn’t give attributions, Waugh said the U.S. game currently is at 45 million players, thanks in large part to female players, who he said comprise 30 percent of the game.

“Sixty percent of the on-course growth has come from females, whether it’s girls or women and people of color, which has also been the other fastest-growing cohort, and it’s almost 25 percent of it for the game,’’ said Waugh, again without citing sources.

“And really importantly, the game has gotten a lot younger – it’s happened very quickly. But almost 50 percent of the game now is under 35 years of age, which is an extraordinary change, and any other sport would kind of kill for those demographics, I think. I think about baseball in that regard.’’

Maybe…but I doubt Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred goes to work each day worrying about golf.

More Waugh: “A lot of great things are going on, and that’s because of, again, our 30,000 (PGA professionals). We are basically at 31,000 now and we are also getting younger as a membership. Our associates are the highest since 2009. Our average pay is over $100,000 now.’’

Yeah… let’s see the breakdown on that.

“So we really feel like a few years ago,’’ Waugh said. “Our biggest concern was not a lack of demand, but a lack of supply in terms of people that would be on the front line of the game. There’s no question that they have put their thumb on the scale in terms of this growth. We are really proud of where we are and frankly our membership sort of scores have never been higher. So we are in a good spot.’’

If you buy the numbers.


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.