A RISE UP THE RANKINGS?
Will a change of date bring the US PGA a little more respect?
In August 2017, the PGA of America announced it was moving its flagship event from August to May, beginning in 2019. So what difference will that make? The US PGA Championship has been played in nine different months since its inauguration in 1916, and four times in May – the last Sam Snead’s win in 1949.
The primary reason for the shift in dates was golf’s return to the Olympic Games which meant that once every four years the tournament would be severely disrupted. Moving to May necessitated the Players Championship reverting from May to March, and means the US PGA will now be the second major in the season rather than the fourth – a reordering that could conceivably enable the event to elevate its status, or people’s perception of it at least. Though it will probably never reach the heights of the Masters, US Open or Open Championship, it could at least be a better US PGA Championship.
Since 1972, the US PGA has been the fourth of the year’s majors and hasn’t generated as much excitement as an event with its history and honours board should. Last and probably least would be apt. Some recent tournaments have done much to halt the trend, but the US PGA was for a long time associated with sweat-drenched pros labouring round a rather monotonous series of parkland courses.
One slight concern is that by May, few courses in America’s Northeast and Midwest have fully emerged from winter, and would be in suitable shape to host a major championship which means the event is likely to be confined to the southeast, Texas, and the southwest. The number of potential championship venues may therefore be somewhat limited. It will be interesting to see how Bethpage Black on Long Island, New York (2019) and Oak Hill in upstate New York (2023) – both awarded the event prior to the date change – cope with a limited growing season.
Unmoved by the probable loss of host venues, PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua insists he is ‘excited’ about the move to May. “It provides our PGA Championship a strong landing spot on the calendar and a consistent major-championship rhythm that golf fans can embrace,” he said last year.
Another negative consequence of the rescheduling is that an overseas US PGA Championship now seems an unlikely prospect.