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March 22, 2018
Five Questions with Bill Walker, Executive Director of the IAGA
What excites you the most about your recent appointment as the Executive Director of the IAGA?
This question is an easy one and it’s two words, the people. After working in golf administration for 20 years I have come to the biased opinion that the people who make up this game, whether they are players, volunteers, or golf administrators, are simply the best. My time in golf administration has hardly felt like work. The people, in the case of the IAGA, are comprised of nearly 80 golf associations that represent 700 staff members and over three million golfers.
What was the big break of your career?
My big break came when I met my wife Lisa in 2009. The golf industry can be demanding on your time. With many “zero dark thirty” wake-up calls and nights away from home, missing family functions can be challenging for a golf admin widow. I can say unequivocally that her support of my career has been my big break.
Who do you consider a mentor in the golf industry?
There are so many individuals who I’ve looked up to and who have mentored me throughout my career that it would be tough to name them all. I would like to recognize Steve Timms, President and CEO of the Houston Golf Association and Mark Passey, USGA Regional Affairs Central Region Director (retired) as two individuals who have made a significant difference in my career.
I had the good fortune to work for Steve from 2001 until 2011 at the Houston Golf Association. Steve was able to think big and deliver on many new programs that not only improved the Houston Open, but laid the groundwork for many grassroots initiatives. The First Tee of Greater Houston and the renovation of the Gus Wortham Golf Course have both improved the game of golf in the region.
Mark Passey has been a crucial part of my growth in golf administration ever since I started in the business as USGA P.J. Boatwright Jr.’s intern in 1998. When I first started in the golf business, he told me to raise the bar, think beyond the status quo and to continue to strive to make both myself and the organization that I represent better.
You have been on the job with the IAGA for roughly three months. What are your takeaways so far?
I have enjoyed working with and getting to know more organizations and individuals whose goals are geared to boost the health and growth of golf. Whether it is a governing body, professional golf tour, trade organization, or others, they are all passionate about making the game better on all levels.
What are your expectations for the future of the IAGA?
The short answer is A LOT! The IAGA’s mission is to “advance the game of golf and serve those who play it, by representing and developing those who lead it.” In 2015, the IAGA outlined a strategic plan to fulfill our mission and to enhance the benefits of our membership. With that in mind, two main areas of focus, in the short term, will be the development of a comprehensive education plan as well as collaborating with allied organizations and industry partners to increase benefits to member associations.