Derek Sprague, managing director at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, the past two years, has been named the new general manager at TPC Sawgrass.
Sprague will replace Bill Hughes, who is starting his new role as regional director of operations for the TPC Network, a promotion that was announced in July. Hughes served as TPC Sawgrass general manager for 11 years.
“With the ongoing evolution of TPC Sawgrass as we strive to deliver an unparalleled experience throughout the year and during THE PLAYERS Championship, it was incumbent upon us to find the right person to succeed Bill and continue our progress,” said John Hugghins, Senior Vice President of TPC Operations. “Bill did a wonderful job of getting us to where we are today. With Derek’s outstanding reputation and professional history, including our own experience with him at Liberty National, we are confident that he will help TPC Sawgrass achieve its goals.”
Sprague was employed by the PGA TOUR at Liberty National, the result of an expanded operational relationship between Liberty National and the tour. During his time there, Sprague oversaw the club’s preparation for the recently contested and highly successful Presidents Cup.
“I’m grateful to Paul and Dan Fireman for two great years at Liberty National,” Sprague said. “It’s a special place, and hosting a successful Presidents Cup was the perfect capstone to my experience there. The opportunity to lead a talented team at the PGA TOUR’s flagship property and help host THE PLAYERS Championship each year is an extraordinary one, and I’m eager to get started.”
Sprague came to Liberty National from Malone Golf Club, in his hometown of Malone, New York, where he was general manager/director of golf for 27 years and earned numerous awards. Since 1998, he has served in a number of leadership roles at the PGA section and national levels, including his two-year term as the 39th PGA of America president (ending in 2016). Sprague is now the honorary president of the PGA of America.
Prior to Sprague’s election as the PGA’s president in November 2014, he served 23 months as PGA vice president. He also served as PGA secretary for two years. Sprague turned professional in 1989, beginning his career at Malone Golf Club. He was elected to PGA membership in 1993.
His awards include being named Northeastern New York PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 2005 and 2008; receiving his PGA Section’s Bill Strausbaugh Award four times (2000-03) for his leadership, serving the PGA and mentoring fellow PGA professionals; being named Section Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities in 1998-99; and winning the 2006 Section President’s Plaque for outstanding contributions to player development.
Sprague is a 1988 graduate of James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he competed on the golf team and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing. He became the fourth inductee into the School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management Hall of Fame at James Madison University in 2014.