Hughes to step down as CEO of NGCOA

Michael Hughes is stepping down at the end of the year as CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association, after 25 years at the helm. While the association has struggled in recent years, Hughes oversaw significant expansion from what was a small organization that was not professionally run prior to his arrival in 1990. 

"There were a few pre-existing state associations when I arrived," Hughes said. I started picking up the phone, getting multi-course operators on board and visiting people, telling them what I thought it could be." 

The organization grew from 250 members to more than 6,500 worldwide, and revenue grew as well. The NGCOA added a conference, which was eventually merged into the Golf Industry Show. That brings in 34 percent of the association's revenue. It also added the magazine, Golf Business, which Hughes said has been an important marketing vehicle for the NGCOA. Its purchasing program also helped attract memebers. 

But in recent years the organization has struggled. Revenue dropped from $4.9 million in 2007 to $3.3 million in 2012, according to tax returns. Hughes’ salary has also dropped — from $363,055 in 2007 to $322,680 in 2012.

Membership revenue dropped 30 percent from 2007 to 2012, when it was $632,086. But Hughes said membership has grown steadily during the last few years. There was also a publicized split with the Ohio Golf Course Owners Association last year. The NGCOA maintains affiliations with regional associations in which membership dues are split. But the Ohio association wanted to make membership in the NGCOA optional. It ceased the affiliation when the NGCOA declined to allow that. 

"Hughes said the NGCOA lost members with that split, but many remained and it even may be ahead of the game in terms of revenue. 

Membership dipped in recession but has grown domestically the last two years," Hughes said. We have been very stable and we have long-term sponsorship deals."

Hughes said he has no career plans at this time, but he hopes to stay involved in the golf industry. He graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School and was a litigation attorney in Charleston for nine years. But he said he will not return to law. He left law to earn a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Ohio University, and interned for the USGA. That introduced him to people in the golf business, which prompted his hire at executive director of the NGCOA.

The NGCOA Board has established a search committee to identify potential CEO candidates and anticipates completing the process several months prior to Hughes’ departure to ensure a smooth transition.

“The NGCOA remains focused on continuing to keep member interests at the forefront of our mission,” Galvin said. “We are committed to executing our strategic priorities during this time of transition.”


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