2008-2009 Season

Golf: America's $76 Billion Economic Engine

 Joe  Steranka

Joe Steranka
Chief Executive Officer
The PGA of America

View Biography

The Detroit Economic Club was pleased to host Joe Steranka, chief executive officer of The PGA of America. The meeting was held at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, which will host the 2008 PGA Championship August 4-10.

The PGA Championship will be seen worldwide in more than 150 countries and territories, reaching more than 500 million households. Major golf championships hosted by the golf industry's leading organizations generate approximately $954 million each year. Golf is a $76 billion annual industry that employs more than 2 million people and raises more than $3.5 billion annually for charity. Steranka discussed the economic impact of this beloved sport, based on recent figures showing that the golf industry grew by 14 billion dollars per year from 2000 to 2005.

“We are bigger than the motion picture and video recording industry, we’re bigger than the newspaper publishing industry. A lot of people don’t think about that when they think about their average round of golf, but the way all of the economics roll up into 16,000 courses nationwide, it really makes us a powerhouse. When you look at the growth from 2000 to 2005, the majority of it comes from golf operations. It’s courses like Oakland Hills, it’s the people that they employ; it is the people they serve, it’s the food they serve, the shirts that Pat sells in the golf shop, the outings that they have, the membership dues that are paid – all of that rolls up into 28 billion dollars a year. Now think about that. If you took all of the professional and semi-pro sports combined, golf at 28 billion dollars – just the golf operations segment of that – is larger than all those pro and semi-pro sports combined.”

Steranka addressed the mission of the PGA to make its economic impact and relatively small environmental footprint known to policy makers.

“If you look at 16,000 golf courses, you’ve got 2 million people that put food on the table for their families because of the golf industry. That rolls up into 61 billion dollars of wages, makes our induced economic impact 195 billion dollars. So, yes, it is a game, and we’re not asking you to think about all of that when you go out to play with your friends and your family, but we do want governors, and city council people, and congressmen and senators, and agency personnel – whether they’re making the decisions on legislation or writing a law for this country – to recognize that we have a very good economic model, and a very good game in terms of its values and ethics.”
  • Meeting Date: Monday, July 21, 2008
  • Time: 11:30 a.m.
  • Location: Oakland Hills Country Club


 Sandy  Pierce

Sandy Pierce Vice Chairman
FirstMerit Corporation


Speaker Biography

Joe Steranka   
A veteran staff member of The PGA of America, Joe Steranka was named as The PGA’s Chief Executive Officer in October 2005. He is just the second CEO in the storied golf Association’s history, which dates back to 1916. Steranka, who joined The PGA in 1988, was The PGA’s Managing Director of Communications and Broadcasting before his selection to succeed the long-tenured Jim Awtrey, who retired as CEO of The PGA of America in 2005.

He maintains an exceptional track record in creating and marketing a wide variety of programs and services for PGA members and the golf industry. Under Steranka’s leadership, The PGA of America forged invaluable partnerships within the golf community, the sports business and television industries. As Managing Director, Steranka guided relationships formed between The PGA of America and top-tier television networks to broadcast the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, Senior PGA Championship, PGA Grand Slam of Golf and the PGA Club Professional Championship to unprecedented worldwide audiences.

In addition, Steranka steered the development of the Association’s member-only Web site, PGALinks; on-site business merchandising at The PGA’s major championships; the formation of The PGA’s interactive media alliance with Time Warner for; and the marketing and programming of Play Golf America, the Association’s industry-wide player development program, specifically designed to grow the game.

As The PGA moves into the second half of its 10-year strategic plan and initiates a decade-long countdown to a Centennial celebration in 2016, Steranka brings to his position a vision to guide the Association’s staff in their dedication to the 28,000 men and women PGA Professionals.

The keys to his three-part mission for taking the Association to new heights includes maximizing the value of membership for golf professionals, exerting and expanding The PGA’s leadership role in the industry, and protecting and growing the PGA’s revenue-producing assets, such as the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.

A 1979 graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, Steranka has 27 years of sports management, marketing, public relations and television experience. His business career began in 1979 in the marketing department of the NBA’s Washington Bullets. Two years later, he would serve as Director of Public Relations for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In 1983, Steranka joined ProServ, the renowned sports management firm, based in Washington, D.C. Through his efforts with legendary sports agents Donald Dell and David Falk, Steranka worked to create public relations and marketing programs for leading sports celebrities including Michael Jordan, Jimmy Connors and the late Arthur Ashe. Following a five-year tenure at ProServ, Steranka joined The PGA of America in April 1988. He would quickly ascend to Senior Director of Communications and Broadcasting. By 2003, Steranka was named Managing Director of Communications and Broadcasting.