One of Us

Lee Smith


Lee Smith is executive director of THE PLAYERS Championship and is experiencing his first tournament week since being named to the position with the tournament in April 2023. He was born in Illinois and has decades of experience working with the PGA Tour and within the TPC family of golf courses. Although he is new, he is aware of the history of the championship and the importance it has in the fabric of the local community, and he is striving to do everything he can to make sure that legacy of excellence continues.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I was born and raised in east central Illinois and after playing golf in college, I got right into the golf business as a PGA professional at Urbana Country Club.

I eventually started working with the PGA Tour in 2003 at TPC Scottsdale as an assistant golf professional and then moved on to three-year stops at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas and TPC Sugarloaf in Atlanta, before heading back to TPC Summerlin as general manager, where they hosted the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Shortly after the President’s Cup in 2017, I went to work at Liberty National Golf Club.

The 18th green there was about 700 yards from the Statue of Liberty in New York City, so that was a pretty cool office to go to every day.


How do you hope to use those previous experiences as executive director of THE PLAYERS?

I think utilizing some of those previous experiences, especially when it comes to hosting different tournaments will allow this to be a great opportunity.

I’ve really looked forward to getting engrained in the community and meeting everyone.

My time with the TPC Network and Liberty National Golf Club was a wonderful chapter of my career, and I cannot thank those teams enough for their unwavering support of this opportunity.

Have you made any changes that fans can look forward to since becoming executive director?

For those of you who know the grounds forward and back, will notice that we did a lot of earth moving in the offseason.

We used that dirt to fill in a couple of the holding ponds in and around the clubhouse to create a little bit more landing space in what we call Sawgrass Square.

How does the tournament look to feature the 50th anniversary during this year’s event?

What we’re excited about from the 50th standpoint is to explore some of the unexplored stories and continue to talk about the fact that we’ve never had a back-to-back champion, but also Jack Nicholas won three out of the first five.

We’re obviously going to have some on-site branding and a retail capsule built into the fan shop.

It is a story that we’re really leaning into for sure. We went to Atlanta Country Club where the first event was held and we’re going to host their leadership down here during the tournament.

Recognizing those things is what we’ve been really having a fun time with, and the fans will get a glimpse into the history.

What have some of your goals been during your first year?


“We’re certainly focused on 2024 and have already had some meetings for 2025, so we’re always looking down the road at what the future looks like.

As a vision and an objective, my first role is not to mess it up and secondly continue to expand the profile of THE PLAYERS Championship community wise and globally.

Last year, there were 51 million hours of our broadcast consumed worldwide, so that’s a pretty darn nice commercial for Northeast Florida, St. Johns County and Ponte Vedra Beach, and we’re proud to be a part of that.

How has it been since moving to the North Florida area?

It has been an exciting transition to Ponte Vedra Beach to help build on the tremendous momentum THE PLAYERS Championship has established in recent years.

We will continue to elevate the experience for our players, partners and fans, while ensuring the Northeast Florida community benefits immensely from those efforts.