Honoree: Deane Beman
Recipient of the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach's 2019 "Rock of the Community Award"
Few individuals have had as monumental an impact on a professional sport as Ponte Vedra Beach resident Deane Beman.
The four-time PGA Tour champion and former PGA Tour commissioner is widely credited with transforming professional golf into a billion-dollar sport with an international following. Along the way, Beman changed the face of Ponte Vedra and Northeast Florida through the tour’s charitable giving and economic impact.
Growing the game
When Beman became the PGA Tour’s second commissioner in 1974, the tour’s assets were estimated to be approximately $700,000. By the time he retired in 1994, Beman had grown those assets to an estimated $800 million, largely through television contracts resulting from his astute repackaging of tournaments to better accommodate TV coverage. Beman’s 20-year tenure as tour commissioner was also highlighted by the creation of the Senior PGA Tour and Ben Hogan Tour (now known as the Champions Tour and Web.com Tour, respectively) as well as the development of World Golf Village and its signature attraction, the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Yet perhaps Beman’s most significant achievement as tour commissioner was set into motion in 1978 with the purchase of 415 acres of land in Ponte Vedra Beach for $1. That miniscule investment would become TPC Sawgrass, the foundation for the TPC network and whose Stadium Course signaled a concerted effort to make professional golf more spectator friendly.
Central to Beman’s vision for the TPC tournament network was the mandate that each tournament would be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, with tournament proceeds donated to area charities in recognition of the vital role local volunteers played in making the tournaments happen. To date, total charitable donations made from the PGA Tour, the PGA Champions Tour and the Web.com Tour total more than $2 billion.
Such are the philanthropic fruits of Deane Beman’s vision. And nowhere is the impact of that vision more visible than in Northeast Florida where it all began: Since The Players Championship began in 1977, local charities have received more than $100 million – with more than half of that total going to organizations focused on children’s health and education.
Add to that total the estimated $3 billion economic impact of THE PLAYERS on Northeast Florida over the last forty years, and it's clear that Deane Beman has made a lasting impact not only on the sport of golf, but on his community.