PGA CEO to Retire at End of the Year

Joe Steranka has announced he will retire at the end of the year as chief executive of the PGA of America.

"I love golf, I love the PGA and I think the game is in a good spot right now," Steranka said Wednesday. "It's the biggest decision of my life."

By the time of his retirement, the 53-year-old will have served seven years as the CEO of an organization that serves 27,000 PGA club professionals. The PGA of America, which celebrated its 96th anniversary Tuesday, also oversees the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.

Steranka has a full plate for 2012, including the American effort to regain the Ryder Cup. The U.S. squad will attempt to win on its home turf at Medinah Country Club near Chicago in September. A month prior, the PGA Championship will be held at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.

"We still have a lot of work to do this year," he told The Associated Press. "I'm going to work hard to make sure this is not a distraction. This is an important time in golf."

Steranka, a graduate of West Virginia University where he got a degree in Journalism, took over the CEO position from Jim Awtrey in 2005. Among his accomplishments were the "Play Golf America," "We Are Golf" and "Golf 2.0" programs, initiatives intended to grow the game.

He wants to retire while still reasonably young. "I want to take time to reap the rewards of 35 years of hard work," Steranka told the AP. "I'm at a point in my life where I'm still young enough to look at new challenges. Golf does so many good things."

Steranka's successor will be selected before he leaves office December 31.