Norton, MA (July 10, 2013) -- After six years serving as the executive director of the Massachusetts Golf Association (MGA), Joe Sprague announced that he will be stepping down at the end of the month and joining the staff of the United States Golf Association (USGA).
Effective in August, Sprague will serve as the USGA’s Director of Regional Affairs for the Northeast Region. In that capacity, Sprague will work directly with the USGA executive team to further the USGA’s strategy to deliver value to the state and regional golf associations. He will serve as a liaison with regional and state golf associations from Maine down to Pennsylvania. He will be based out of the USGA’s headquarters in Far Hills, New Jersey.
"Although we will miss Joe here at the MGA, we feel that it is a great fit for Joe and a true honor to be selected by the USGA," said Dr. Paul Burke, Jr., the MGA's president. "The MGA has always enjoyed a strong relationship with the USGA and this new development will certainly help to continue to strengthen that partnership."
Sprague brings an unmatched knowledge and nearly 22 years of experience in golf administration to the USGA. As executive director of the MGA, Sprague was responsible for managing the 501(c)3 organization that services more than 350 Member Clubs and 84,000 golfers across the Bay State.
“It has been a privilege for me to work for the MGA these past six years,” said Sprague. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the MGA has the most dedicated and loyal group of volunteers of any golf association I know. I look forward to continuing my relationships with the many friends and colleagues I have here in the Northeast.”
In addition to operating the USGA’s GHIN Handicap and Course Rating systems for its members, the MGA – which ranks as the seventh largest state golf association in the country – also runs a highly successful championship program and oversees all USGA Championship local and sectional qualifying rounds held in Massachusetts.
The organization has also taken a lead role – in recent years – in serving players of all ages and playing levels. Under Sprague’s direction, the MGA launched the MGA Member Day program in 2010.
Aimed at bringing the “MGA Championship” experience to all, any golfer who holds a current and active MGA/USGA handicap index is eligible to participate in these one-day fun events. Due to its growing popularity, the program has grown from three to 13 events since 2010.
“I am extremely proud of the MGA Member Day program,” said Sprague. “The response that we have received from the participants has been overwhelming and the growth of the program since its inception proves that it serves a need for golfers in the state.”
The First Tee of Massachusetts (TFTM) program is another feather in Sprague’s cap as it is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2013.
“The First Tee programming teaches important values that can positively impact the lives of all who play golf, especially children,” says Sprague.
More than 65,000 Bay State youth – ages 5 to 18 – have already participated in The First Tee curriculum since 2003 through programming run at the four TFTM sites (in Norton, Lynnfield, Springfield and Cape Cod) and The First Tee National School Program.
After spending two years as a caddie on the PGA Tour, Sprague got his start in the golf administration business when he was hired by the Rhode Island Golf Association in 1992, serving eight years as tournament director and seven as executive director. Part of his stint at the RIGA was spent working under the tutelage of his father, Joe Sr. Sprague. In 2007, he succeeded Tom Landry as MGA executive director
Sprague also served as the president of the International Association of Golf Administrators (IAGA) in 2012 and has – over the years – been named to several USGA Committees, including the Regional Associations Committee, the Joe Dey Award Committee, and the Herbert Warren Wind Book Award Committee.
In the 110-year history of the MGA, Sprague was only the sixth person to serve as executive director. Fred Corcoran was the first to serve (1927-36) and he was succeeded by his brothers John (1937-45) and Bill (1946-69). From 1969-1998, Dick Haskell served the prestigous post before handing over the reigns to Landry.