PGA of America chief Seth Waugh on President Trump, the Ryder Cup and advising golf courses on next steps

PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh

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Good morning, people! Today the curtain goes up on Part I of a three-part mini-series, and it has nothing to do with the 10-part series so many people are talking about, The Last Dance.

A quickie: The Last Dance, for anyone who doesn’t know, is an ESPN documentary about the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls, the first two parts of which aired Sunday. It takes its name from a playbook the Bulls coach, Phil Jackson, made for the 1997-’98 season. But the actual title of that playbook was The Last Dance? It ended in a question mark.

Today’s subject, Seth Waugh, of the PGA of America, will tell you: Questions marks are doing a boffo business in golf. On Sunday afternoon I spoke with Waugh, the PGA’s CEO, and that interview is the basis for this three-part GOLF.com event. Come back for more tomorrow and again on Thursday for the exciting conclusion.

Waugh said the PGA Championship will be played in August. But will it be at Harding Park in San Francisco? He can’t say for sure. Will it have fans? He can’t say for sure. “Could you have a Ryder Cup without fans?” Waugh asked rhetorically. He hopes, of course, by September that will not be an issue. But he’s asking the question because the question needs to be asked.

Waugh, it happens, has that knack, for ending sentences with blah blah blah, a quick pause, and then, “Right?” Donald Trump, who called Waugh recently for a golf chat, does the same thing in a different way. He once said to me at his course in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. “Are these not the most beautiful cart paths you’ve ever seen in your life?” Waugh said that Trump is eager to see golfers back in action, at every level. They talked, he said, about “the public private partnership that’s coming out of this, that people are heroes when you need them to be.”

ryder cup with fans
Would the Ryder Cup be the Ryder Cup without fans? PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh reflects
By: Michael Bamberger

Waugh went out of his way to say that the PGA of America does not want to be preachy and try to tell governmental agencies whether the courses should be open now. (Close to half are, according to the National Golf Foundation.) “We’re not trying to talk any locality into permitting golf, we’re saying if you want to play golf, here are the ways to make it safe,” Waugh said. He then went through the whole litany of sensible protocols. Tee times every 15 minutes. One person per cart, or (better yet!) walking. Don’t touch the flagstick. “The safe-sex version of golf,” Waugh said. He’s funny.

Somehow, we went from that to the TV Waugh watched on Saturday night, the One World Together at Home concert.

“Did you see The Stones?” Waugh asked. “It was awesome.”

He thinks you’ll see Tiger Woods and others playing golf on TV before too long here, “creating some content, a needed distraction.”

In the meantime, there will be more of The Last Dance. It’s so good, right?

Michael Bamberger welcomes your comments at Michael_Bamberger@golf.com.

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Michael Bamberger

Golf.com Contributor

Michael Bamberger writes for GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. Before that, he spent nearly 23 years as senior writer for Sports Illustrated. After college, he worked as a newspaper reporter, first for the (Martha’s) Vineyard Gazette, later for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He has written a variety of books about golf and other subjects, the most recent of which is The Second Life of Tiger Woods. His magazine work has been featured in multiple editions of The Best American Sports Writing. He holds a U.S. patent on The E-Club, a utility golf club. In 2016, he was given the Donald Ross Award by the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the organization’s highest honor.