Palm Beach Gardens, United States: Former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman, the guiding force in elevating the profile of the Tour while expanding golf’s global charitable reach and interest in the game, has been named the recipient of the 2015 PGA Distinguished Service Award.
Beman, 77, will receive the PGA of America’s highest annual honour on November 13, at a ceremony in conjunction with the 99th PGA Annual Meeting in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
A native of Washington, who attended the University of Maryland, Beman became one of the country’s foremost amateur golfers. He won the 1959 British Amateur before capturing the 1960 and 1963 US Amateur Championships. He competed in 11 USGA international events, including four Walker Cup teams. He turned professional in 1967 and went on to win four times on the PGA Tour.
Beman succeeded Joe Dey in 1974 as the Tour’s second Commissioner, beginning a 20-year term that took professional golf to new heights in popularity.
He nurtured television’s connection to the game, which resulted in increased tournament purses, and ushered in the creation of the Senior PGA Tour (now Champions Tour) and the Ben Hogan Tour (now Web.com Tour) to develop tomorrow’s stars and contributing to playing opportunities for PGA professionals.
Through the course of his tenure as Commissioner and to this day, Beman is a true friend to the PGA of America. He worked closely with the PGA to grow the game and benefit the membership.
Beman also remains a vocal supporter of the key role the PGA member plays in serving as the tangible connection between the game and those who play it in the United States.
“Deane Beman’s vision and leadership helped drive professional golf to the forefront of the sporting public’s consciousness and become a staple for viewers throughout the world,” said PGA of America President Derek Sprague.
“Deane’s leadership extended the careers of Tour professionals and benefited PGA members as well, while also ensuring that golf remains one of sports’ leading catalysts for charitable endeavours. For his career of remarkable achievement in our industry, the PGA of America takes great pride in presenting Deane Beman with the 2015 PGA Distinguished Service Award.”
Under Beman’s watch, the PGA Tour’s Board instituted a policy requiring all tournaments to support a charitable initiative. During Beman’s two decades at the Tour helm, charitable contributions grew from less than US$1 million to than US$30 million in 1994. Today, the golf industry generates an estimated US$3.5 billion annually to charity.
“I am extremely honoured to receive this prestigious award. The PGA professionals in my golf life have been the bedrock of the development of golf in America,” said Beman. “I have enormous respect for those individuals who nurture the enthusiasm for those who quest for the ultimate challenge of becoming an accomplished golfer.”
Beman also was called by some ‘the Father of Stadium Golf’, a concept that became a standard in a spectator-friendly golf experience. His vision took bloom in 1982 as designer Pete Dye opened the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
In 1998, Beman also saw another of his dream projects reach fruition, with the opening of the World Golf Village near St Augustine, Florida, which is the home of the World Golf Hall of Fame and where he was inducted as a contributor in 2000.
Prior to stepping down as Commissioner in 1994, Beman capped his legacy with the PGA Tour by opening the Presidents Cup, a biennial international competition matching the best American golfers and international players outside Europe.
Beman and his wife, Judy, live in Ponte Vedra Beach. They have five children and 10 grandchildren.
Begun in 1988, the PGA Distinguished Service Award honours outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf.
Previous honorees include Bob Hope, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Patty Berg, Jack Nicklaus and former Presidents Gerald Ford (1991), George HW Bush (1997) and Bill Clinton (2014).
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