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The man putting The Concession Golf Club on the elite level

Bruce Cassidy has used his coal industry work ethic to bring major golf events to the Lakewood Ranch area.

Owner Bruce Cassidy has turned The Concession Golf Club into a major player on the world stage.
Owner Bruce Cassidy has turned The Concession Golf Club into a major player on the world stage.
Photo by Jay Heater
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It wouldn't be a stretch to say The Concession Golf Club, the way it stands today, was formed by a lump of coal.

Of a lot of them.

Club owner Bruce Cassidy, who is currently awaiting word on whether his club's bid to host the 2031 PGA Championship has been accepted, built his portfolio in the coal mining business.

More than anything, he learned his work ethic from his father, a coal truck driver who was paid by the truckload. Cassidy, who grew up as one of six siblings in Steubenvillle, Ohio, wouldn't see his father in the morning, because he was up long before the break of day to get in line for that first load.

"Dad wasn't educated, but he was a smart man," Cassidy said.

The work ethic that was ingrained into him served him well. By the age of 25, he already was a plant manager in the production of underground mining products. He worked his way up through management and by 35 had become the CEO of Advanced Mining Systems.

On Memorial Day, 1990, he founded Excel Mining Systems in Cadiz, Ohio, and by 1991 was in production.

It was an upward trend that never stopped.

Is PGA championship on the way?

Now 73, Cassidy said he should hear in the next couple of weeks whether The Concession has landed the 2031 PGA Championship. It would be a major achievement for the Lakewood Ranch-area course and a major economic boon for the region.

Cassidy's bid included a commitment of $6 million from Manatee County. He also said Sarasota County has had discussions with him about a $3 million commitment, but that has yet to be confirmed.

Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. hosted the 2023 PGA Championship and the Greater Rochester Enterprise group estimated its economic impact to the region at $190 million.

Florida has hosted just two of golf's Majors, the 1971 PGA Championship (Ballenisles Country Club) won by Jack Nicklaus and the 1987 PGA Championship (PGA National Resort & Spa) won by Larry Nelson.

It would be a long wait, but as Cassidy said, "I would rather have it next year, but if you want to host (a Major), that's the deal.

"The positive is that you have eight years of marketing. It would give us a chance to get the course perfect, and learn how to move people through the area, move without harming the course.

"And this would be a big deal for the whole state of Florida."

Former Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, Concession owner Bruce Cassidy, PGA Tour Champions President Miller Brady, Intersport founder Charles Besser and former PGA Tour star Peter Jacobsen announced the new World Champions Cup in April.
Photo by Jay Heater

The Concession began building momentum in 2021 when it hosted the World Golf Championships, which had been canceled in Mexico City due to COVID-19. With only six weeks to prepare, the Concession wowed PGA Tour professionals, who gushed about their love of the course.

That momentum continued to build when it was announced the course would host the World Champions Cup, a new event sanctioned by the PGA Tour Champions that will match U.S., European, and international teams. The event will be held Dec. 7, Dec. 8, and Dec. 10.

While the 2021 World Golf Championships drew 47 of the top 50-ranked players in the world, fans were not allowed on the course due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only invited guests and those who lived at The Concession were allowed to attend.

Cassidy said the "best-guess" estimate for attendance at the World Champions Cup will be about 5,000 fans a day. Parking will be at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch with shuttle service to the course.

If The Concession is awarded the PGA Championship, that total could expand to 25,000 a day.

Although the course itself is remote in nature, Cassidy said the submitted plan detailed how fans would move around the course. 

"The plan was put together down to where every tent would be put on the property," he said of hosting a PGA Championship. "We could bring in 25,000 to 30,000 people without a significant impact. We have gone through the site map, and opened things up, clear for hospitality."

The Concession Golf Club will once again receive worldwide attention when it hosts The World Champions Cup in December.
Photo by Jay Heater

He said few changes would need to be made to the course itself.

"Some holes would have a different look," he said.

Late start in golf

Cassidy is OK with the fact he might have a different look than most golf course owners. He didn't start playing the game until he was 35, and didn't even know anyone who played golf while he was growing up. Football and baseball were sports, not golf.

But as he traveled to coal mining conferences on business, he found he was one of the only executives who didn't play golf. He finally decided to pick it up for business networking, and within a year he was beating all the other executives who had played for years.

He became a golf enthusiast, but he wasn't consumed by the sport.

"I don't want to do anything I love every day," he said.

He never planned to become financially involved in the sport, but he moved with his wife Cindy to the Polo Club in 2006 because his daughter Sherry was involved in showing horses.

In 2008, he decided to invest in The Concession, which had been crowned the Best New Private Course in America when it opened in 2006. In 2009, he took it over, having his son, Bruce Cassidy Jr., run the club operations.

He decided to run The Concession the way he would any of his other businesses.

"We made a five-year plan," he said. "I got it stabilized. A lot of golf clubs are not run by real businessmen."

He built a par 3 course and added more cottage housing for the members.

"You just use common sense," he said. "You don't succeed in life without working hard and having common sense."

Cassidy was hoping to host a Ryder Cup, but late September and early October is hurricane season in Florida.

"I'm a black and white guy," Cassidy said. "Just tell me yes or no."

So he moved to the possibility of hosting other events. The 2034 Presidents Cup is a possibility. He said members of that event's board will visit The Concession to do an analysis.

"I've always believed this course is worthy of hosting major events," he said



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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