‘A transformational gift’: Howard Milstein’s $1 million donation to the PGA of America promises to have major impact

November 8, 2018

Howard Milstein is a New York banker and philanthropist with a rapidly growing footprint in the golf industry. On Thursday his worlds converged when he appeared in a video with new PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh to announce a gift of $1 million to PGA REACH, the PGA of America’s nonprofit foundation. The video aired at the 102nd PGA Annual Meeting, in Indian Wells, Calif.

Milstein’s gift, made in honor of his longtime friend and business partner Jack Nicklaus, aims to inspire others to give to PGA REACH, the mission of which is to enrich the lives of youth, military and diverse populations via access to PGA professionals, PGA Sections and golf itself. It’s an initiative that Milstein, now a trustee for PGA REACH, has long bought into figuratively, and now literally.

“I deeply believe in the game of golf and its positive impact on participants of all ages,” said Milstein, who is the owner and publisher of GOLF.com and GOLF magazine and executive chairman of the Nicklaus Companies. “Through this donation and my involvement as a PGA REACH Trustee, I hope to give back to a community, and a game, that has been so important to Jack and given me so much.”

Howard Milstein and PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh pose for a photo.
PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh, left, with Howard Milstein, who donated a $1 million gift to PGA REACH, the PGA of America’s nonprofit foundation.

It was the Golden Bear himself who introduced Milstein to the efforts of PGA REACH several years ago. Milstein spent the past year working with the foundation to learn more about its efforts, highlighted by attending the Trustees’ meeting at the PGA Championship in St. Louis; after time spent with Waugh at the Ryder Cup, Milstein decided to champion the nonprofit in a major way.

“Through this commitment, I cannot think of a better way to honor my partner and friend — there is no one who better embodies the values and traditions of golf than Jack Nicklaus,” Milstein said. “I’m hoping that this contribution stimulates others. I feel very happy and fortunate to be in a position to make it.”

Waugh, who replaced Pete Bevacqua as PGA of America chief in August, said, “This is a transformational gift, not only in the amount but also in setting an example for so many to come along and realize that golf isn’t just a game. It’s something that can and does change lives every day.”

The aptly named PGA REACH seeks to expand the game’s reach in several ways. Its flagship youth program, PGA Jr. League, strives to be accessible to every child interested in the game, both in the U.S. and abroad. PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) seeks to improve the physical, mental, social and emotional well-being of veterans with disabilities by introducing them to golf, while the PGA WORKS Fellowship provides valuable entry-level employment opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to gain a foothold across all facets of the golf industry.

Howard Milstein in his New York office.
“I deeply believe in the game of golf and its positive impact on participants of all ages,” Milstein said.

Diverse also describes Milstein’s golf-industry holdings. In addition to his leadership roles at the GOLF properties and The Nicklaus Companies, he also has stakes in Miura Golf, the high-end, Japanese-designed golf club brand; TrueSpec Golf, a leading, brand-agnostic club-fitting company; and GolfLogix, the game’s most downloaded GPS app. These entities, unified in their focus on amplifying golfers’ enjoyment, are overseen and operated under the umbrella of the recently-formed holding company 8AM Golf.

Outside of the golf space, Milstein is the chairman, president and CEO of New York Private Bank & Trust and its operating bank, Emigrant Bank, the country’s largest family-owned and -run private bank. He also chairs and operates his family’s real-estate companies. How does he find time for his many duties — his day jobs, his philanthropic efforts, even the occasional round of golf?

“There’s a reason why the old saying is, ‘If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person,’” Milstein said. “I always find time for causes and people I want to help.”