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Original Issue

Deane Beman, Golf Visionary September 11, 1961

Don't look now, but Deane Beman has his thousand-mile stare
going again. This time Beman, the visionary former PGA Tour
commissioner, has his eyes set on Fredericksburg, Va., where he
and a local developer are building a moderately priced 54-hole
public golf playground (greens fee: $50) not far from the hills
where Lee's Army of Northern Virginia thrashed a charging Army
of the Potomac. "You'll be a five-minute drive from Civil War
battlefields and 40 from the monuments in Washington," says the
62-year-old Beman of the resort that's scheduled to break ground
next year. The project, called Celebrate Virginia, will be a
rarity in these days of pricey private golf communities and
soaring greens fees.

Beman, a former Tour player and two-time U.S. Amateur champion,
was five years into his tenure as commissioner in 1979 when the
previously skeptical Tour players overwhelmingly approved his
plan to have the PGA Tour build a course to host the
five-year-old Tournament Players Championship. Beman had found a
4,000-acre piece of swampland in Ponte Vedra, Fla., and
persuaded the developer to sell the Tour 415 acres for $1 and
the promise that Beman's dream course would make the surrounding
land valuable. Under Beman's guidance, the Tour then borrowed
$3.5 million and raised another $1 million through membership
fees to finance the building of what is today the TPC at
Sawgrass, the first of 17 existing TPC courses. (Three more will
open this summer.) "I've always tried to see things the way they
could be," says Beman.

Beman also helped create the Senior and the Ben Hogan (now tours, but he wasn't a beloved commissioner. Known for
his brusque manner and obsessive leadership style, he was
vilified in the press for greatly expanding corporate
sponsorship of golf and was criticized by top players for doing
away with Monday qualifying and instituting the all-exempt tour
in 1983. "I'm not particularly close with a lot of players," he
says. "Still, I'm proud that golf is the business powerhouse it
is today."

Beman, who has five children and 10 grandchildren, lives in
Ponte Vedra with his second wife, Judy. He infrequently competes
on the Senior Tour, but since resigning as Tour commissioner in
1994, other than an occasional motorcycle odyssey with Judy, his
focus now is on golf-business-related consulting, including
Celebrate Virginia. "I worked with Pete Dye on the TPCs," says
Beman, who will design one of the three new courses. "Now I want
to try it myself."

--John O'Keefe



"I'm not close with a lot of players. Still, I'm proud that golf
is the business powerhouse it is today."