'It’s been a lot of fun overseeing golf courses and managing these world-class facilities like TPC Sawgrass.'
Bill Hughes recently retired as a 22-year veteran of the PGA Tour and TPC Network, the past 12 years as chief operating officer and general manager of TPC Sawgrass. He will be honored Nov. 3 by the JDRF North Florida Chapter at its 18th Annual JDRF Miracles Gala at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa. JDRF formerly was known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
For just over 22 years, I’ve been the general manager of one of the PGA Tour golf course properties around the United States. The PGA Tour owns and operates a number of high-end golf facilities around the United States called Tournament Players Clubs.
I’m proud to be a PGA golf professional. I played high school and college golf. I grew up in northwest Ohio with a dream of playing on the PGA Tour. I chased it as far as I could chase it and it just didn’t turn out for me. I was not able to make a living playing the game of golf.
I decided to follow my passion for the game as a career and I’ve been in it now for 38 years. At 61 years old, I’m transitioning out of the day-to-day, 24/7 responsibilities of an executive in the golf-hospitality industry. The game has been good to me and my family.
It’s been a lot of fun overseeing golf courses and managing these world-class facilities like TPC Sawgrass. The PGA Tour is a multibillion dollar a year industry. Ponte Vedra Beach is the home of the PGA Tour. It’s the home of professional golf worldwide and it’s also the home of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
I grew up in the Midwest. My mother, father and family shared a passion for open-wheel racing in the Midwest, particularity the United States Auto Club series, which took drivers to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That is the ultimate goal of every kid that drives race cars, just like kids who play golf want to play on the PGA Tour. I got to follow both dreams as a child.
I was driving Quarter Midgets as a young man from 5 years old until I was 13 years old and I was paving my way to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
By mistake, after a racing accident that sidelined me for a few months, I found the game of golf at 13 years old. Bored out of my mind one day at home, I saw these two kids my age on a baseball field near my home. They had a stick and a ball. I walked over, and they introduced me to the game. The next thing I knew, I was out at a local public golf course and started playing the game. It was magical, really.
I was the starting quarterback from the sixth grade up until the time I decided to play golf seriously. I was going into my senior year in high school. Golf became a fall sport. I had to decide whether I was going to continue to play football or I was going to play this game called golf. I made the decision to play golf.
There probably is not a professional golfer that I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know of my generation — the greats from Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. I’ve watched the young men come up from junior golf, college golf and amateur golf. Some I’ve known since they were born.
I have had a career that few could imagine. I’ve also been married for 32 years to the most beautiful woman on the planet and have two children that I adore. Now that I have some time for maybe the first time in my life to take a deep breath and relax, I can’t wait to spend time with my family and those that have been most important to me. They deserve it. And just maybe, I do too.