Joe Steranka will retire at the end of the year as chief executive of the PGA of America.

"I love golf, I love the PGA and I think the game is in a good spot right now," Steranka said Wednesday. "It's the biggest decision of my life."

Steranka, 53, will have spent seven years as the CEO of an association that serves 27,000 PGA club professionals and runs events that include the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf for the four major champions.

This year, the Americans will try to win back the Ryder Cup at Medinah in September, and the PGA Championship goes to Kiawah Island in South Carolina for the first significant event in more than 20 years.

"We still have a lot of work to do this year," he said. "I'm going to work hard to make sure this is not a distraction. This is an important time in golf."

He said a search committee would be formed in the new few weeks, and a successor is expected to be in place when he leaves Dec. 31.

Steranka was a broadcast executive for 18 years with the PGA of America when he was appointed to replace Jim Awtrey in 2005 as chief executive. He cultivated programs such as "Play Golf America" and "We Are Golf," designed to attract more people to the sport.

The latest initiative launched this year was called "Golf 2.0," which involves other organizations in golf to grow the game. The PGA tapped the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of America to become its official youth developmental partner.

Steranka, who graduated from West Virginia with a degree in journalism, said it was time for him to find a new challenge while he is still young.

"I want to take time to reap the rewards of 35 years of hard work," he said. "I'm at a point in my life where I'm still young enough to look at new challenges. Golf does so many good things."

He did not say what other interests he might pursue, but that "I'll be available for golf in the future."