Former PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka to lead Honda Classic host organization

honda-classic2-logoJoe Steranka, who was the Chief Executive of PGA of America for seven years before his 2012 retirement, has been appointed to lead Children’s Healthcare Charity, the charitable arm of The Honda Classic, which has as its primary beneficiary the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.

“I have long described Barbara Nicklaus as the First Mom and Grandmom of golf. It is an honor to work with her and son Gary in guiding The Honda Classic in its service to our community,” Steranka said of his new post. “No other event combines the commitment to family health, extraordinary entertainment and sponsorship, and global promotion of the Palm Beaches quite like The Honda Classic.”

Steranka will serve as President of the Board of Directors, in addition to remaining a member of the Executive Committee of Children’s Healthcare Charity. He replaces Paul Bremer, who retired after holding the position since the foundation was established eight years ago. Bremer will remain on the Board and serve on the Audit and Grants committees. Barbara and Gary Nicklaus will remain Co-Chairs of the Board and Executive Committee.

The new Honda Classic role adds to Steranka’s record of impacting lives through the game of golf. He was a broadcast executive for 18 years with PGA of America before he was appointed CEO in 2005. During his tenure, Steranka grew the PGA of America into an organization with more than 400 employees and a budget of $227 million, and also cultivated programs designed to attract new players to the sport such as “Play Golf America.” A major initiative of The Honda Classic is to promote the game of golf to young players.

As he departed the PGA of America, Steranka said that he would be “available to golf in the future.” That path has taken him to the lead position in Children’s Healthcare Charity, for which he has served as a Board member the past eight years.

In addition to his volunteer role with The Honda, Steranka also is presently Chief Global Strategist for Buffalo Communications and is on the Advisory Board of the South Florida PGA.

“We’ve been fortunate to have had Paul Bremer as our Board President for the past eight years and in that time, The Honda Classic has become one of the premier events on the PGA Tour,” Honda Classic Executive Director Kenneth R. Kennerly said. “We are forever grateful to Paul for his tremendous commitment and support.

“Now as we look into the future, we are extremely fortunate that Joe Steranka has agreed to become Children’s Healthcare Charity’s next president. Joe has been one of golf’s most influential leaders over the last 30 years, most recently as the CEO of the PGA of America. Joe’s knowledge and respect within the industry is paramount, and his vision for growing our charitable message will become a driving force in our success.”

Proceeds from The Honda Classic benefit Children’s Healthcare Charity, which awarded a record $2.55 million to 136 different children’s charities in 2014. That exceeded the previous record of $2.13 million, which was given to a wide roster of local causes last year. The Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation once again was the primary beneficiary.

It is the eighth straight year the event has increased its charitable distribution. When the tournament moved to the Jack Nicklaus-designed Champions Course at PGA National Resort & Spa in 2007, it awarded $430,000. By 2010, it had eclipsed the $1 million mark ($1,018,961) and it broke through the $2 million barrier in 2013.

The continued rise in giving reflects the steady growth of Palm Beach County’s largest sporting event that has been made possible by player, sponsor and spectator support. Players such reigning British Open and PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy, U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer, Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, and Graeme McDowell and have made The Honda Classic part of their regular schedules. The star power has led to increased ticket sales, parking revenues, concessions and sponsorships.

The growth also is a testament to American Honda’s 33 years as the longest-standing title sponsor on the PGA Tour, as well as partnerships with PGA National Resort & Spa, PGA of America, Palm Beach County, the City of Palm Beach Gardens, and the PGA Tour, along with support from major local partners such as Tire Kingdom, United Technologies, and FPL.

The 2015 Honda Classic will be played February 23–March 1, 2015, when Russell Henley will look to defend his title.