Silver Lake's Waugh to Lead Pro Golf Association of America

(Bloomberg) -- Seth Waugh, a senior adviser and managing director at Silver Lake, will lead the PGA of America as chief executive officer.

Waugh, who’s in the middle of a three-year term as an independent director for the golf organization, will take over as CEO on Sept. 24, it said Tuesday in a statement.

“Leaving Silver Lake has been the hardest decision of my career,” Waugh, who will remain a senior adviser at the technology-focused buyout firm, said in the statement.

His new role makes Waugh a top executive in a sport that’s declining in popularity across the country. The U.S. counted 23.8 million golfers last year, down from a peak of 30.6 million in 2003, according to the National Golf Foundation. The number of courses in the U.S. fell by 190 last year to 14,794.

Waugh spent 10 years as CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, and also was non-executive chairman of Raymond James Financial’s Alex. Brown private-client services unit. Before his stint at Deutsche Bank, he was CEO of Quantitative Financial Strategies and spent 11 years in various leadership roles at Merrill Lynch & Co.

“We are gaining a leader who is respected across multiple industries for his vast strategic management experience and vision,” PGA President Paul Levy said in the statement.

McIlroy, Spieth

Waugh takes over as interest in professional golf remains heavily correlated to the performance of Tiger Woods, a 42-year-old with a bad back who’s gone winless on tour since 2013. Woods’s mini resurgence this year sparked a surge in TV ratings, with viewership for the final round of the PGA Championship -- which the PGA of America operates -- earlier this month up 69 percent from 2017. But it also highlighted how the next generation of young stars, like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, have been unable to move the needle like their predecessors.

The PGA of America is attempting to lure younger fans with digital and social-media offerings. When it comes to TV, golf’s audience skews oldest in sports. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the average age of television viewers for the PGA Tour -- a separate organization led by Commissioner Jay Monahan -- was 64 in 2016, up from 59 a decade earlier.

Golf betting generates an estimated $2.8 billion every year, and the PGA Tour was one of a handful of leagues that argued for a cut of all wagers placed on their events. In addition, the PGA Tour two years ago asked a handful of data companies to submit bids for the rights to package real-time data into feeds for gambling houses.

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