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April 10, 1916: The Day The PGA of America Was Born

Walter Hagen, pictured during a match in 1920, was one of 35 original charter members of the PGA of America. (Allsport Hulton/Archive/Getty Images)

Walter Hagen is pictured in 1920 during a game. He was one of the original charter members of PGA of America. (Allsport Hulton/Archive/Getty Images)

How did PGA of America begin?
Lunch, of course.
The Professional Golfer’s Association of America (PGA) was founded in New York City in January 1916. A group comprised of New York-area professionals and prominent golfers, such as five-time PGA Champion Walter Hagen (1913 U.S. Open Champion Francis Ouimet) and famed architect A.W. Tillinghast attended a luncheon in New York City hosted by Rodman Wanamaker, the department store magnate.
A plaque at the Hotel Martinique recognizes the momentous day in 1916.

A plaque at Hotel Martinique commemorates the historic day in 1916.
Tom McNamara, a former caddie turned accomplished golfer turned talented salesman for Wanamaker – and
someone who cared about the welfare of the
club professional – provided the spark toward
organization. He told Wanamaker to organize the event, arguing that it would be beneficial for both Wanamaker and the U.S. professional golfers. Locked into a retail battle with
rival A.G. Spalding & Bros. for the sale of golf
balls, Wanamaker enthusiastically approved
the initiative.
The second-floor boardroom of the Hotel Martinique in New York City was the site of the PGA of America's founding.

The PGA of America began in the second floor boardroom of Hotel Martinique New York City.
The luncheon agenda included a discussion on giving golf professionals their say in regards to tournament organization and staging, among other employment-related issues.
The response was positive and more meetings followed.
April 10, 1916, in the second-floor boardroom
of the Hotel Martinique on 32nd and Broadway,
the Professional Golfers’ Association of
America was established. On that day, 78 members were elected, including 35 PGA charter members.
Walter Hagen's application to become a charter member of the PGA of America.

Walter Hagen’s request to become a charter PGA of America member.
The Association was founded with seven PGA Sections, including Metropolitan, Middle States (New England), Southeastern, Central and Northwestern. The PGA of America had begun, destined for a hundred years of excellence.

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