Yesterday the PGA of America made the worst kept secret in golf official. Starting in 2019, the fourth major of the year will become the second. The PGA Championship will move to May and The Players will return to March. The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive:
As discussed before here on From The Hazard, this move is about more than just trying to shift the lagging PGA Championship into a more favorable position on the annual schedule. Other positives from this reshuffling will include making more room for Olympic Golf, the Ryder Cup, and the President’s Cup late in the year. It will also assist in enhancing the attention available for the season-ending FedEx playoffs. And, downplayed by some but critically, the changes will permit moving the end of the PGA season as far away from the beginning of the NFL season as possible.
It may not be romantic, but, these are all issues revolving around money. It takes a great deal of it to drive all of these events. Sponsors who invest in these events expect attention in return for that support. This move will trigger a series of changes that will enhance the ability of numerous events to attract that attention.
Along with the moving of the PGA Championship and The Players, other tournaments are expected to begin moving as well. Already the European Tour has announced that their BMW PGA event will be moving from May to September. Other rumors include the possibility of the WGC Dell Match Play moving out of March to a late-season date. Perhaps allowing it to serve as a warm-up event for the Ryder Cup and President’s Cup. Expect several announcements to begin rolling in as other events scramble to best position themselves within this new schedule before the preferred dates are taken.
Personally, I think the changes are tremendous for golf. About the only real concern I’ve heard about the move is the limitations it will place on what parts of the country would be ready to hold the PGA Championship in May. Northern courses simply may not be able to have their courses in major championship condition in time. However, I would argue what might be lost for northern courses will be gained by courses in the south that are too hot come August so there's a give and take balance. I would expect, once everything is finessed, we will look back and wonder why the PGA schedule didn’t look like this decades ago.