For decades, the official tourism corporation of Palm Beach County has used the trademarked slogan: The Palm Beaches - Florida's Golf Capital. Tonight, however, this swanky South Florida region lost a lot of golf currency now that the PGA of America officially decided it will relocate its national headquarters to Frisco, Texas.
While rumored for some time, news of the PGA of America's departure was officially announced early this evening after votes by the Frisco City Council, its Economic and Community Development Corporations and the Frisco Independent School District (FISD) board of trustees sealed the deal.
As part of the move from its current Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., location, the PGA of America will help anchor a 600-acre, mixed-use development with an initial investment worth more than $500 million dollars. The PGA of America, comprising some 29,000 PGA Professionals around the world, will initially employ at least 100 people at the Frisco-based headquarters.
Part of the agreement also encompasses hosting two PGA Championships, two KPMG Women’s PGA Championships and potentially a Ryder Cup in this part of North Texas - situated about 30 minutes from Dallas.
This groundbreaking agreement is estimated to have an economic impact of more than $2.5 billion over the next 20 years based on a city commissioned tourism feasibility study. The study considered the economics of golf course activities, including tournaments, plus the additional impact from the new conference center.
The PGA of America is teaming with Omni Stillwater Woods (OSW), a joint venture led by Omni Hotels & Resorts with Stillwater Capital and Woods Capital; the City of Frisco, as well as its Economic and Community Development Corporations; and the Frisco Independent School District.
“Our move to Frisco will be transcendent for the PGA of America,” said Seth Waugh, who was named the PGA of America's new CEO last August after being a top executive at Deutsche Bank. . “Everything great starts with a dream. This is the beginning of a bold, new journey as we bring together world-class partners in a world-class location – to deliver innovative and differentiated experiences for our nearly 29,000 PGA Golf Professionals, golfers of all abilities and our staff.”
Among the ambitious plans for the new golf-centric mixed-used Frisco development: two new championship golf courses, a short course, and practice areas totaling 45 holes; a clubhouse; Class AA office space; a 500-room Omni resort and 127,000-square-foot conference center; a technologically advanced retail village; parks and open space plus several miles of trails.
The PGA’s Northern Texas Section will also move to PGA Frisco, where state of the art connectivity will provide opportunities to pilot promising new growth-of-the-game programming for all 41 Sections of the PGA of America.
Interestingly, this isn't the first time the PGA of America had eyes on Texas. Back in 2001, the organization was courted by a San Antonio developer to create an ambitious new PGA Village, but the proposed development never got off the ground after three years of bitter debates among city officials and opposition groups in the region.
For Florida's greater golf community it's a sad end to a nearly 50-year run in the Sunshine State for this 101-year-old golf organization. The PGA of America got its start in Palm Beach County in 1963 at BallenIsles Country Club. That's when Chicago-based banker/land tycoon John D. MacArthur commissioned BallenIsles' original three courses as the centerpiece of his new master-planned community called Palm Beach Gardens and the new national headquarters for the PGA of America.
At the time, the PGA of America was based on the other side of the state in Dunedin, but MacArthur, one of America's leading philanthropists, had bigger plans for the PGA. Within a year, BallenIsles’ newly opened East Course was awarded the Senior PGA Championship.
In the 10 years that followed, BallenIsles’ Dick Wilson and Joe Lee-designed courses played host to more than a dozen major golf tournaments, including numerous Senior PGA Championships, the World Cup event won by Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus in 1971 and, later that year, Florida’s first-ever major - the PGA Championship.
BallenIsles also was the site of the original Qualifying School where players such as Bruce Fleisher and Tom Watson earned their PGA Tour cards and celebrities like Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason went to play.
“For years, the PGA of America has served its membership all across the nation where they engage their local communities, and help to raise over $4 billion annually,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott. “The decision to relocate their headquarters to Texas because of our business-friendly climate is a welcome one. I thank the PGA of America for the new jobs and investment that they will bring to the City of Frisco, wish them continued success, and welcome them to the Lone Star State, the home of champions.”