The PGA Championship Should Return to August Date on Calendar
View From The Fairway - There was much to like about this year's PGA Championship, but Golfshake's Derek Clements believes that the event has lost a degree of spark following its move to May and that should be addressed by the PGA of America.
AND so the season’s second men's major has come to an end. The quality of the golf we saw was superb and Oak Hill proved that it remains a brute - miss the fairways or find the wrong part of a green and you can start thinking in terms of marking a cricket score on your card.
However, as good as this tournament was, there is one issue that needs to be addressed. The PGA Championship was staged in August until 2019. It was moved because the back end of the season was so heavily congested. It is a major, for goodness sake! It’s the other tournaments that should be moved.
If the PGA of America insist upon staging their tournament in May then they need to have a serious rethink about where in the country it is held. Another one of the reasons it was moved was because holding it in the southern states in August meant that golfers were subjected to sweltering conditions.
Before the event it was widely predicted that there could be problems with the weather and that is exactly how things turned out. Oak Hill is located in Rochester and at this time of the year icy-cold weather and frost are common-place. And so it proved.
The start of the first round was delayed by frost, it rained throughout and the temperatures were so low that most of the field felt the need to dress like they were playing in the UK in the middle of January.
Tournament professionals often complain about courses and conditions and the truth is that the world’s very best are a pretty pampered lot, but when playing in a major they surely have every right to expect to be able to play in warm weather. It’s not just the players who felt the chill - what about the spectators who spent their hard-earned cash on admission tickets? By the way, those same fans were also charged an outrageous $18 for a beer!
Oak Hill is one of the toughest golf courses in America under any circumstances, but all the more so when the rough is saturated with rain and the field have to wear so many layers of clothing to keep warm that they can barely move.
As club golfers in the UK we know all about playing in freezing conditions, but the PGA Championship is one of the world’s four most important tournaments. Choosing Rochester as a May venue was a mistake that could and should have been avoided.
Weather delays are part of the game - we have seen them at Augusta, they regularly have an impact on the US Open and the weather makes The Open Championship the tournament that it is. But frost delays? Really?
It seems to me that the tournament is now suffering an identity crisis, something that Rory McIlroy alluded to before the action began this year.
He said: "I always liked it in August that this was glory's last shot and there was a real identity there. Not saying that it's lost any of that identity in terms of its still a major championship, but I feel like having it be the last major of the year maybe just gave it a little bit of something that it doesn't quite have right now.
"Do I like it in May? Look, the only thing about May is that, maybe in the future it'll start to exclude places like this in the north-east from hosting this championship, so that's a shame," McIlroy added. "The north-east is sort of my favourite golf to play in this country.
"I love the golf courses up here and I love the tradition, and a lot of the historic golf course architects started their journeys up here and have built some amazing golf courses. It would be a shame if we weren't able to come back here.”
The time has surely come for the PGA of America to admit that they got it wrong and move the PGA Championship back to August.
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