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Deane Beman
Former PGA TOUR Commissioner

 

 

HISTORY OF THE WORLD GOLF FOUNDATION

In the late 1980s, PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane Beman began to consider the benefits of having a PGA TOUR Hall of Fame near the TOUR's headquarters in northeast Florida and adjacent to the heavily-trafficked I-95 corridor.

A few years later, after land for the project had been secured, Beman called LPGA Commissioner Charlie Mechem and invited the LPGA to join with the TOUR in the project; the LPGA had had a Hall of Fame for years on paper, but never a place they could appropriately honor their great players.

Once the LPGA agreed to participate, the TOUR reached out to other major golf organizations; the USGA and the R&A agreed to contribute to the project, and the PGA of America subsequently decided to close the former World Golf Hall of Fame in Pinehurst and consolidate it with the new project. The new World Golf Hall of Fame, at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, was born.

When it became obvious that this was no longer a PGA TOUR project but rather something beneficial for the entire world of golf, Beman and his associates at the TOUR determined that a new management organization was required, an ecumenical entity that would have no other agenda than the promotion and honoring of the game's most significant contributors. In 1994 the World Golf Foundation was formed, with an independent Board of Directors. New PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem was named Chairman, and the other major golf associations had representation on the Board as well.

It was always assumed that a significant charitable outreach program would emerge from the Hall of Fame and the World Golf Foundation. It was Finchem's vision to find a way to bring the game of golf to youngsters who would never otherwise have the chance to experience the benefits and assimilate the values inherent in the game. Through his leadership, and the powerful support of Honorary Chairman President George H.W. Bush, The First Tee was announced in 1997. Today it stands as the most successful youth outreach program in the history of golf.

The third initiative of the World Golf Foundation was launched in 2000. The golf industry was not growing as it had in the 1990s even though interest in the game had never been greater. Industry leaders approached Finchem about having the World Golf Foundation oversee an initiative to focus on the future vitality of the game. GOLF 20/20 was created for that purpose, and the first annual 20/20 conference was held in November of 2000, in conjunction with the annual Hall of Fame Induction.

In 2008, Steve Mona was named the World Golf Foundation's first CEO, and through his leadership the Foundation has embarked on new global initiatives to foster the growth and promotion of golf worldwide.