Recently, Mike Whan, Chief Executive Officer of the USGA, and Seth Waugh, Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of America, engaged in a conversation regarding the imminent dissolution of a 50-year relationship between the Colorado Section of the PGA (CPGA) and the Colorado Golf Association (CGA). They were lamenting that the two sides were too far apart such that a resolution was unlikely.
Members of the CPGA have been the principal resource selling to golfers who play at their facility the USGA Handicap Index for the benefit of the Colorado Golf Association. Annually, the Colorado PGA Section generated for CGA over $1.5 million in revenue. For their efforts, the CGA reimbursed the PGA Section $200,000.
It is hard to believe, after decades of collaboration and mutual efforts to better the game of golf and enhance the player experience, including the joint formation of the Colorado Junior Golf Alliance a decade ago, that the cooperative efforts between these Associations is being dissolved.
What is going on?
On December 31, 2021, the long-standing agreement between the Associations was scheduled for renewal. The Colorado Golf Association offered to renew the contract with the Colorado PGA Section for five years for a maximum reimbursement of only $150,000.
The position of the Colorado Golf Association is that they are expanding their benefits from merely a handicap to offering a GPS phone application, the opportunity to play in non-competitive one-day events at top courses, and discounts on various retail offerings provided by commercial sponsors of the Colorado Golf Association.
There is a clear push amongst many organizations to try to enhance customer loyalty through offering a membership, i.e., ESPN, Golf Magazine, USGA, etc. The USGA set a goal of having one million members over two decades ago and has yet to cross that threshold.
The Colorado PGA Section was seeking a longer-term renewal with an annual commission based on its funding-raising efforts for the Colorado Golf Association. As one Colorado Section PGA member stated to me, “I have yet to have a golfer enter my shop to ask to become a member of the Colorado Golf Association. The golfer merely asks, “How do I buy a golf handicap?”
Here is what we know so far. The Colorado Golf Association is abandoning all junior golf activities save for conducting three tournaments for this segment. The PGA will continue to be active in introducing new juniors to the game and may organize events comparable to what the North Texas PGA Section successfully operates.
It will be interesting to see what evolves. Here is hoping the two leading golf associations in Colorado can resolve their differences and work in unison for the betterment of the game.
What are your thoughts regarding who should sell golf handicap indexes and should both organizations be actively involved in introducing new players to the game?