News & Opinion

L.A. pro to PGA: Clean up Levy mess

Patrick Casey wants to be a proud member of the PGA of America, like his father before him, who was a club professional and has been a PGA member for more than 50 years.

But because of the actions of the organization’s president and the lack of action of the PGA officers and board of directors, Casey and his father – and many other PGA members across the country – are finding themselves suffering from a severe lack of pride.

On June 7, PGA of America president Paul Levy was arrested on suspicion of DUI after police say he lost control of his car and hit a traffic sign at 11:22 p.m. in Palm Desert, Calif. (“In the news,” June 14). The PGA officers and board have chosen not to remove Levy from his position (“PGA applies double standard in Levy case,” June 17). And that prompted Casey to take action.

Casey, the director of golf at Brentwood Country Club in Los Angeles, has filed a code-of-ethics complaint directed at Levy for refusing to resign and another directed at the officers and board for refusing to remove Levy from office. Levy, 57, was scheduled to appear today in an Indio, Calif., court on the misdemeanor charge.

“I initiated this action because of the lack of transparency of the PGA leadership for quite some time,” said Casey, a past president of the Southern California PGA Section. “This is just another instance. There has been a double standard in the way they handled membership issues at all levels, particularly at the highest level.

“In addition, the fact that my father and his mentor don’t have pride in their organization is very disheartening to me. I don’t want to go out that way. I don’t want to go through my career and not have pride in the organization.”

In October 2014, then-PGA president Ted Bishop was ousted one month before his two-year term was to end for an ill-timed, gender-insensitive tweet and Facebook post. Bishop was removed from office within 24 hours. Casey believes a double standard is being applied in Levy’s case.

The PGA officers and board steadfastly have stood behind Levy for this serious offense. Casey wonders why. Especially in light of an e-mail that Casey received from PGA vice president Suzy Whaley, who will become PGA president after Levy’s term expires in November.

“All of us in leadership share your disappointment in Paul and concern for the judgment he showed last week,” Whaley said. “We made the decision to stand by Paul after substantive discussion among the officers and executive leadership, and lengthy deliberations with the board. I assure you we carefully considered all factors, including protecting the reputation of the PGA of America.

“We decided to stand by a person we’ve known for many years who is getting help for a personal issue and needs our support at a difficult time. We believe Paul is sincere in his remorse and that he fully understands how irresponsible his actions were. 

“While I understand and respect your point of view, in the collective judgment of the board, we believe supporting Paul is the right course for the PGA of America.”

The PGA of America did not respond to a question from Morning Read as to whether Levy will appear at next week’s PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup in September in his capacity as the organization’s president. But Levy was quoted in a news release announcing the resignation last week of PGA chief executive officer Pete Bevacqua (“Bevacqua’s exit leaves questions for PGA,” July 25). Casey has been looking for another statement.

“What’s really irritated me about this process is that Paul Levy has made no public comments about what he did,” Casey said. “He’s not said he’s sorry; he’s not addressed the membership. He might have addressed the officers and the board, but for the 29,000 members and apprentices, how can you not address them in some way? That’s the biggest failing so far.”

Casey also points to a fact he believes not many PGA of America members have been made aware. Levy has been without a job since May 2017, when he lost his position as CEO and general manager of Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, Calif. The official line at Toscana is that Levy resigned. But Casey has been told that Levy was terminated, under such conditions that more than one non-disclosure agreement has been put in place surrounding the incident. Levy has not held another club job since he left Toscana.

John D. Hobbins, the founder and teaching professional at Greenside Golf Academy in New York City, said many of his colleagues have refrained from public comment because of potential repercussions within the PGA.

“The section officers aren't saying anything because many of them might have national office ambitions and they don't want to rock the boat,” said Hobbins, a 35-year PGA member who is part of the Met Section. “The officers and the board are just in a race to November, trying to avoid doing anything about Levy before his term ends.”

Said Casey: “Our board and our staff has let us down by not standing up and making the right decision. They’re protecting Paul and making him bigger than the association. That’s wrong. It sends the wrong message as to what the PGA is about, and we shouldn’t tolerate it.

“He should resign or the board should remove him. And then we can get him the help he needs. But you can’t rehabilitate and run the association at the same time.”

Mike Purkey has written about golf for more than 30 years for a number of publications, including Golf Magazine and Global Golf Post. He lives in Charlotte, N.C. Email:; Twitter: @mikepurkeygolf