Padgett served as President of the PGA of America from 1977-78 during which the Ryder Cup matches were expanded, professional education programs were established and the Junior PGA Championship was created.
'Don Padgett was an inspiration to a generation of golf professionals including myself,' said PGA President M.G. Orender. 'He was a teacher, player, merchandiser, facility manager, businessman and an ambassador of the game. His shared vision helped secure the future of the Ryder Cup in the format that it is known today and has enabled the PGA to improve the education and promotion of our members and provide the funds to Grow the Game.'
Padgett began his career as a professional in 1949 at American Legion Golf Course in New Castle, before moving to Green Hills Country Club in Selma, Indiana. He was elected to PGA membership in 1955, and in 1961, he was named the PGA Golf Professional of the Year.
Padgett served three terms as president of the Indiana PGA Section (1959-61, 1966 and 1969-70). He was a 1971 inductee into the Indiana PGA Hall of Fame and 11 years after being named director of golf at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in North Carolina, Padgett was inducted in 1998 into the Carolinas PGA Hall of Fame.
'The PGA of America has lost a wonderful friend and major contributor to our Association,' said PGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Awtrey. 'Don Padgett's PGA career spans more than a half-century of making the game of golf better for everyone. And, anyone who came in contact with Don was better for the experience.'
Padgett is survived by his wife, Joanne; son Don II, who is director of golf and general manager of Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio; and two grandchildren, Don III and Jennifer.