The PGA of America has named Craig Kessler as chief operating officer. Kessler, who served as COO and Head of Emerging Concepts at Topgolf from 2016 to 2021, will report to PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh, effective March 6. He will be based at PGA Frisco, the new home of the PGA of America.

Most recently, Kessler served as CEO of Buff City Soap an experiential retail company based in Dallas, TX. Buff City has grown from 100 to 260 locations since Kessler joined as CEO. Today, the brand has stores in 32 states.

“I always admired Craig’s knowledge and love of the game, appreciated his partnership while he was at Topgolf and was thrilled when his name surfaced through the search committee,” said Waugh. “We are all grateful that he is excited to bring his passion and expertise back to the game and our Members. For the first time in history, there are now more off-course golfers than on-course, so his track record of innovation and growth has never been more relevant or welcome. His proven success as a culture builder and broad operating experience across the game and varied businesses will bring a fresh perspective to the enormous strides we have made on behalf of our Members and the game at large over the past few years. I am grateful to M.G. (Orender) and the search committee for surfacing and vetting such an impressive group of extremely talented executives and settling on such an ideal choice from a very long list.”

Said PGA of America President John Lindert, “On behalf of the Officers and Board of Directors, we are pleased to welcome Craig to the PGA of America team. We would like to thank the members of the search committee and look forward to working alongside Craig as we continue to grow the game and impact the lives of our Members.”

Kessler brings a passion for golf and an extensive operating and financial background to the PGA of America. Kessler served as the primary point of contact between Topgolf and the PGA. He began his career with the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. From there, he became an operating partner at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and Providence Equity Partners, two private equity firms, before joining Topgolf in 2016 working to evaluate potential investment opportunities and with company management to improve performance.

Photo courtesy PGA of America