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PGA Of America Names Craig Kessler As Its New Chief Operating Officer

Kessler previously worked as the COO and head of emerging concepts at Topgolf from 2016-2021
Craig Kessler
Pga of america names craig kessler as its new chief operating officer Credit: Photo courtesy of PGA of America

This week, the PGA of America has announced that former Topgolf executive Craig Kessler will be the professional golf organization's newest chief operating officer (COO).

Kessler, who will be beginning his new role on March 6, will be stationed in Frisco, Texas — where the PGA of America's headquarters reside.

Kessler has an extensive history with golf, having previously worked as the COO and head of emerging concepts at Topgolf from 2016-2021. While he was with Topgolf, Kessler served as the main point of contact between the recreational golf organization and the PGA, in addition to helping the company with both venue and employee growth.

“I always admired Craig's knowledge and love of the game, appreciated his partnership while he was at Topgolf and was thrilled when his name surfaced through the search committee,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh. “We are all grateful that he is excited to bring his passion and expertise back to the game and our Members. For the first time in history there are now more off-course golfers than on-course, so his track record of innovation and growth has never been more relevant or welcome."

“PGA Professionals have had a significant impact on my life,” said Kessler. “They’ve taught me, my wife, and our boys how to play the game we love. The opportunity to play a part in helping the PGA of America serve our Members and grow the game is both exciting and meaningful.”

Kessler graduated from both Harvard Business School and Georgetown University, earning himself an MBA and an undergraduate degree respectively. He would then begin his career journey at global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Following his stint at McKinsey & Company, Kessler worked as an operating partner at a couple of private equity firms before getting the job at Topgolf. Kessler's role during this phase of his career was to evaluate potential investment opportunities and work with management teams to boost company performance.

Most recently, Kessler had served as the chief executive officer for Dallas-based retailer Buff City Soap. While he was there, the company had grown exponentially from 100 locations to 260, with stores located throughout 32 U.S. states.

“The search process was thorough and inclusive with nearly 200 candidates vetted,” said former PGA of America President M.G. Orender, who chaired the search committee.

“Each of the finalists was exceptional, but Craig uniquely possesses all the elements we were looking for. He had been COO and presided over the exponential growth of Topgolf. He then gained valuable experience at Buff City Soap bringing multiple operating teams across several office locations together under one roof while launching a very successful culture rebuild. He also committed to go through PGA Education to fully understand what our Members experience. Craig brings the total package.”