Not all multi-million dollar deals are born behind paneled boardroom doors. Now and then, one begins in a small neighborhood diner with only a paper napkin to record the historic moment. Such was the genesis of an idea that ultimately resulted in the PGA agreeing to move its headquarters from Florida to Frisco.
And, as with many such plans, it originated from one man’s concern that his neighbors’ needs weren’t being fulfilled. He began searching for a solution when his own golfing sons were just 12 and 8 years old.
The Idea: PGA Headquarters, Frisco TX
With his boys showing a strong interest in and talent for golf, Frisco attorney David Ovard was keenly aware of a problem his sports-minded city had failed to address. For all the high-dollar franchises blooming inside the city limits, and with all the attention being showered on Frisco’s youth, golf had been overlooked. There were a limited number of courses available and they could spare minimal time for pre-teen players and members of the local high school teams to practice. Moreover, there was the matter of green fees too expensive for many to regularly afford.
Ovard began campaigning for a solution, talking with his sons’ legendary golf coach, Cameron McCormick, and with Mark Harrison, executive director of the North Texas PGA. Finally, one day at lunch, the three agreed on a plan and put it in writing on that napkin.
After that, things began to move forward. Frisco’s leadership, including the City Council, Economic and Community Development corporations, and the Frisco Independent School District, warmed to their idea. The next stop was to send word out to Palm Beach County, Florida, and detail the plan, then dispatch a blue-ribbon delegation to attend the PGA Championship tournament and extend a more formal invitation to one of sports’ most powerful governing bodies.
The reality: The PGA Headquarters is a $500 million project
The rest is history. Today, the City of Frisco and its newest partner are looking at a $500 million project now underway on 650 acres that was once an almost worthless flood plain. On it, two championship courses are scheduled to open this summer, then the PGA’s headquarters as well as an Omni resort and conference center. Soon to follow will be a calendar of PGA championship tournaments, leading up to the 2040 Ryder Cup.
There will also be a 10-hole short course and practice plus instruction areas available to local youngsters. Ovard’s golf dream is indeed coming true.
“For something of this magnitude to become a reality,” he says, “everybody had to get on board.” He points to City Manager George Purefoy as a prime example. “He told me early on that he had never been a golfer, but understood it is a sport that creates strong relationships–families and friends playing together, business deals being made on the course. He saw the need for that kind of addition to the city’s social environment and quickly gave the idea his approval.”
Among the upcoming events that Ovard is most excited about is the Boys and Girls Junior PGA Championships, teeing off in 2026. With television rights already in place, he predicts it will become golf’s equivalent of baseball’s famed Little League World Series.
Insisting that he is a “horrible” golfer himself, Ovard is nonetheless a proud champion of the sport. Son Dawson, he points out, is now a member of the SMU golf team and Davis, a junior at Frisco High School, is already being widely recruited by colleges. Both are two-time state champs for their age groups.
Others, Ovard predicts, will soon have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps.
This story was originally published as part of the cover story of the Mar/Apr edition of Local Profile magazine.