PGA of America’s Waugh targets TV, HQ deals
Newly hired PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh steps into his new job with a critical early agenda topped by negotiating a new television deal and deciding on a new headquarters for the 29,000-member organization.
Waugh replaces Pete Bevacqua as the PGA of America’s top executive. His tenure officially begins Sept. 24, but he’s already been involved in TV talks, along with PGA of America Chief Commercial Officer Jeff Price.
The PGA of America’s deals with CBS and Turner Sports for the PGA Championship expire at the end of 2019 and the exclusive negotiating window between the incumbents expired at the end of August. At press time, the PGA of America and CBS were considering an extension to that window, sources said.
“When Pete [Bevacqua] stepped down, they asked me to step into the negotiations,” Waugh said. “I am pretty well up to speed. … The window will close sometime soon and if we get a deal, great. If we don’t then it will turn into a different dynamic.”
Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, would not comment last week on the negotiations but said renewal talks have been productive. “It’s a great property,” he said. “We have a great relationship with them. The hope would be to extend the agreement. That’s the plan and that’s the expectation.”
NBC Sports Group, which hired Bevacqua, has made it known that it wants to pick up both the broadcast and cable rights to the PGA Championship, a source said. NBC has said that Bevacqua will recuse himself from those negotiations. It’s not clear whether Bevacqua’s presence will help or hinder NBC’s efforts to land the major golf tournament. Even if he recuses himself from negotiations, Bevacqua still has detailed knowledge of the inner workings of the PGA of America. On the other hand, the PGA of America may want to avoid appearances of an “inside deal” where it leaves a partner of nearly three decades in favor of one that hired its former CEO.
A source said ESPN also is in the mix to land the PGA Championship’s cable rights.
Evolution Media’s Alan Gold is representing the PGA of America in negotiations. McManus and CBS Sports President David Berson are handling negotiations for CBS; Turner President David Levy and Turner Sports President Lenny Daniels are heading up negotiations for Turner.
While Waugh deals with television matters, he also is involved in the potential decision to move the PGA of America headquarters out of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to Frisco, Texas, or another city.
Before Bevacqua left the PGA in early August, he said that while talks to move to Texas were underway, no final decision had been made.
Waugh emphasized the need to decide on a new headquarters quickly. “These are generational decisions,” he said. “In the next month we will absolutely need to have a final decision on it.”
Waugh, former CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, comes to the PGA of America from the investment firm Silver Lake where he was a managing director. Before signing on as CEO of the PGA of America, he was an independent director on the group’s board.