Transparency is a term that has been used a lot during the past election cycle in the U.S., and for good reason.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote, a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite to democracy. But a well-informed electorate is a requirement beyond elections. It also is a necessary part of the relationship between corporations and shareholders, and associations and their members.
The PGA of America is holding its annual meeting this week in Palm Springs, Calif. The gathering is being conducted in a bubble, with the media excluded from all aspects, including the likely election of the association’s first female president, Suzy Whaley.
The PGA of America issued the following statement about the absence of media coverage:
“The PGA Annual Meeting is primarily about governance and the discussion of Association matters. While there may have been a handful of exceptions over the years based on a specific element of the program (Hall of Fame announcements and celebrity guest speakers, for example), we don’t consider the Annual Meeting to be a media event. In fact, there have been several Annual Meetings with no media in attendance at all. We do invite some media to attend our National Awards Dinner and to interview our leadership immediately following the conclusion of the meeting. We believe this is the best way to manage any media interest without disrupting the governance process of our Association.”
On its face, the statement seems disingenuous.
First, how is it that the anticipated election of the PGA’s first female president doesn’t eclipse a Hall of Fame announcement or a celebrity guest speaker?
Second, as one former president told me, the PGA of America would have killed for press coverage in the past at annual meetings. So, why is this year in Palm Springs different?
The U.S. Golf Association allows media into its annual meeting.
What is the PGA of America trying to hide?
During the past year, Morning Read has written about issues concerning the PGA’s outgoing president, Paul Levy (“PGA applies double standard in Levy case,” June 17). We also have written about PGA members’ concerns and questions about the board’s actions involving Levy before and during his presidency (“L.A. pro to PGA: Clean up Levy mess,” Aug. 2).
The issue was the same for those members as it is today: transparency.
Being transparent and being well-informed work in tandem. Open access to information allows voters, shareholders or members the best opportunity to make educated decisions.
The PGA of America’s 29,000 members need to be shown some respect by the organization that purports to serve them. They work in an industry that is difficult but rewarding. They look toward the PGA of America for help and assistance.
To make their lives a little better. To make their annual dues worth more than free admission to the Masters each year.
Leaving the media out of the annual meeting might appear to be a small matter, but it shows a lack of respect for those who cover golf as well as the PGA members who could not be in Palm Springs. Those members might want to read an unfiltered view of the festivities through a free press versus a constrained, biased account from the PGA of America weeks later.
When former bank executive Seth Waugh was named president on Aug. 28, the news was received as a breath of fresh air. Hopefully, Waugh will make the decisions that allow for more access, if not total transparency.
It’s time to let the members know what’s happening in their own organization.
Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli