In surprising news announced Tuesday, PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua is leaving the association to become president of NBC Sports Group, where he will oversee programming, marketing, digital content, as well as the NBC Regional Networks and all aspects of the network’s golf business, including Golf Channel.
The CEO of the PGA since 2012, Bevacqua was not a PGA member and, in fact, played college football for Lou Holtz at Notre Dame before earning his law degree from Georgetown. In July, he told The Post that Holtz was one of his major life inspirations and that the two continue to talk regularly.
He began his legal career in New York before venturing into golf as in-house counsel for the USGA. A few years later, the USGA created a new position for him as chief business officer. He also served as the global head of golf for Creative Artists Agency Sports before moving to the PGA.
During his time in Palm Beach Gardens, he and LPGA commissioner Mike Whan created the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, regarded by players as the premier major championship in the women’s game. Bevacqua negotiated a new television contract with NBC for the Ryder Cup and spearheaded the process of moving the PGA Championship from August to May. He also has been instrumental in the PGA’s reported search for a new headquarters, likely outside of Florida.
But Bevacqua is leaving the PGA healthier than he found it. The PGA Championship’s move to May has received near universal praise and the organization is operationally as efficient as it has ever been.
“The opportunity to join NBC Sports Group, and the larger company of Comcast NBCUniversal, which holds media rights to the world’s biggest events and an incredible assortment of assets, was too good to be true,” Bevacqua said in a written statement. “I am also deeply grateful to the membership, leadership and staff at the PGA of America.
“Personally and professionally, for me and my family, these have been the best six years of my life. Leading the PGA of America and the 29,000 PGA golf professionals will always mean a great deal to me.”
NBC chairman Mark Lazarus said: “With the expansion of NBC Sports Group over the last seven years, and our continuing investments in new and existing businesses, adding Pete to our already strong management team will help us organize for future growth. We are thrilled to have someone with his experience and reputation join our organization.”
The PGA simultaneously announced that its chief membership officer, John Easterbrook, will assume the role of interim CEO while a search for Bevacqua’s successor is conducted.
“We are grateful to Pete for his nearly six years of visionary leadership,” said PGA president Paul Levy. “Under Pete’s guidance, we advanced our mission to grow the game and serve our members in many ways. Pete departs with our gratitude and best wishes for continued success in this new chapter at NBC Sports.”