Earlier this week, Pete Bevacqua, the CEO of the PGA of America spoke at the 4th Annual Sports Diversity and Inclusion Symposium on Citi Field. Bevacqua noted the fundamental need for changes within the organization to make it a much more inclusive sport as a whole. Last year, the PGA elected Suzy Whaley for the role of secretary, marking the arrival of the first female officer in the organization’s history.
This fact highlights one of the criticisms that the PGA of America faces regularly, the idea that the sport is exclusively intended for wealthy white men. While unfortunately this stereotype is often supported by the sport’s history within this country, it’s clear that the PGA is making inclusion and institutional changes a part of the organization’s new mission. The CEO exclaimed, “If we’re not more diverse in the next 25, 50, 100 years, the sport’s in trouble. So instead of hiding from that, we’re embracing that, and we’re trying to institute those changes at every aspect of our organization.”
The CEO recognized that while the organization has made strides in terms of including a more diverse roster of young stars today than in the past, the PGA needs to incorporate more diversity throughout the organization to more accurately reflect the fans.
Bevacqua acknowledged that many of the golf clubs that host the organization’s famed championship have a history of exclusivity and that the PGA may not have the power to change these membership policies in a direct way. However, he did acknowledge that the PGA has the power to not do business with clubs that stay set in their exclusive ways and to instead support clubs that have more inclusive business practices when it comes to their membership policies.
The PGA is only one of a number of sponsors of the event, some of the others include, MLB, US Paralympics, RISE, US Olympic Committee, WNBA, NASCAR, Minor League Baseball and the USTA.