After succeeding Joe Dey as commissioner in 1974, Beman grew the tour’s assets from approximately $500,000-$700,000 in 1974 to an estimated $500 million-$800 million when he retired in 1994. Much of this new profit and growth was due to television. A direct result of the popularity of golf on television was the escalating tournament purses that made players millionaires many times over and raised the profile of professional golf to new heights.
During his tenure, Beman ushered in the creation of the SENIOR PGA TOUR (now called the Champions Tour). No sport has bottled nostalgia as successfully as golf’s SENIOR TOUR, considered by many the sports success story of the 1980s. The SENIOR TOUR arrived just in time to encompass the magnetism of Arnold Palmer. What started as a gathering of old friends blossomed into a circuit with seemingly limitless potential. Two tournaments and a total purse of $250,000 evolved into a schedule of 45 events with prize money in excess of $54 million. “When we started, the players didn’t want to play more than 10 tournaments a year. They wanted to play a little bit to get out of the house. Then, when they started playing, they found out how much they missed it-the competition, the camaraderie. They said, ‘Let’s play more,’ and here we are,” Beman said.
In 1989, Beman created the Ben Hogan Tour (now called the Web.com Tour) as a proving ground for young professionals that also took the sport into 30 additional markets and created a launching pad for the careers of John Daly, Tom Lehman and David Duval, just to name a few. Beman is also referred to as “the Father of Stadium Golf.” The TPC Stadium Course at Sawgrass was the first product born of Beman’s dream to build a network of spectator-friendly courses to accommodate the growing popularity of professional golf. As the permanent home of the PGA TOUR’s PLAYERS Championship, it was the first of its kind, featuring mounds, high banks and earthen amphitheaters specifically designed to handle larger crowds. “That first concept was routed literally on the back of a placemat where he (course architect Pete Dye) first sketched out the layout of the holes,” Beman fondly recalls.