PGA of America CEO: "Golf needs to look more like the face of America"

Pete Bevacqua explains diversity is the No.1 issue confronting golf, and there no quick fixes.

Andy Roberts's picture
Thu, 9 Aug 2018

Outgoing CEO of the PGA of America, Pete Bevacqua, has revealed how diversity is the number one issue facing golf and that there are no quick fixes to change that.

PGA of America CEO: "Golf needs to look more like the face of America"

Scrolling through the 156-man entry list ahead of this week's US PGA at Bellerive and Tiger Woods remains the sole African American with no fewer than 20 Asian players in the lineup. 

"The biggest challenge is, I think, the challenge that everyone in golf shares, which is how do you grow this game?" said Bevacqua. "How do you make this game more accessible and more diverse?

"How do you bring more women into the game? "How do you bring more minorities into the game?

"I think we would all agree, or most of us would agree, that the face of this game has to change if it's going to grow. It needs to look more like the face of America."


Bevacqua makes a valid point. When Woods burst onto our TV screens as a fresh-faced youngster winning the first of his 14 majors at the 1997 Masters, his record 12-stroke victory march was expected to become the catalyst for change. 

But some 20 years on and golf's top level still appears similar - albeit with a plethora of young superstars keeping things entertaining as they vie for honours and bragging rights each week.

According to stats provided by the PGA of America, among those who played on a golf course for the first time in 2017 roughly one-quarter were non-Caucasian while the minority makeup of golfers overall is 18%.

On a junior level, 2.7 million aged six to 17 played on a golf course last year, while 33% of those were girls compared to just 17% back in 1997.

Furthemore, 25% of those juniors are non-Caucasian as opposed to just 6%. 

As typically appears the norm for any golf survey these days, the PGA of America reiterated that the cost of playing golf remains the biggest barrier to increasing participation.

Bevacqua also explained how the PGA of America is developing programs designed to open doors in the industry both on and off the golf course. 

"That's not something you can do in a year, six years, or more," said Bevacqua, who next month will step into his new job as president of NBC Sports Group.

"That has to be a constant pursuit, a generational pursuit. Whether it's the PGA of America, the PGA Tour, the USGA, the LPGA, I think all the key entities in this game understands that we need to make this game more diverse."