The PGA’s quest for a new identity
How is moving the PGA Championship to May going to "give it an identity"? Though most consider it the least in prestige, it is still a major championship (“Earlier date for PGA ripples worldwide,” Aug. 8, http://bit.ly/2vfo4Wx). Think of how much Arnold Palmer would have liked to have won it. The weather at Bethpage State Park on Long Island, the site of the 2019 PGA, might be interesting. I guess they didn't think that one out. The PGA should have stayed in August as "glory’s last shot."
Lee Westwood thinks the majors should be moved around the world. Really? Should the British Open be moved to Dubai? How about the Masters to Japan? Yes, three of the four majors are in the U.S. because of long histories as majors and the other is, well, the Masters.
I do agree that the "World" Golf Championships should be moved around more: one in the U.S., one in Europe, one in Asia and one in the Southern Hemisphere.
Grow the love for the game
I have a hard time understanding how moving the PGA Championship to May will grow the game, and in fact believe it may very well have the opposite effect.
I attended my first professional tour event as a teen: the 1979 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. That experience solidified my love for watching tour golf. Like most who experience a tournament first-hand, I remember being in awe of how far and high the pros could hit their shots, then seemingly will them to stop where they wanted on the green. You do not get this appreciation or experience watching golf on television. It must be experienced first-hand. Using Jack Nicklaus’ statement that Louisville is the line of demarcation for May weather (“PGA, Ryder Cup belong at Valhalla,” Aug. 2, http://bit.ly/2uk1bgK), moving the PGA to May eliminates the opportunity for young people in the most populous portion of the country (Northeast and upper Midwest) to experience professional golf in person so that they can fall in love with and appreciate this difficult game of golf.
To imply that competing with the NFL for viewership is the reason the game isn’t growing seems a red herring to justify moving the date of the PGA Championship. The NFL plays in the fall, when the weather and daylight drive an TV audience inside; golf is played in the summer, when the weather and daylight drive us outside to play golf. The NFL has been tailored for a casual, armchair TV audience which is spoon fed the rules and nuances of the game; golf appeals to those who already understand the difficulties and challenges (self-inflicted and otherwise) of the game.
The only way to grow the game is to grow the love for the game, and appreciation for the professional game is what will drive viewership, not the absence of an NFL game on a different frequency.
Moving to May will present a different TV-watching quandary: Do I watch golf or the Stanley Cup playoffs?
Let Players stand on its own, without hype
The move to May of the PGA will reduce the talk by NBC and Johnny Miller of The Players Championship being the “fifth major.”
The Players is a great event at a great course with a strong field. The tournament quality speaks for itself. I don’t enjoy hearing Miller, Jimmy Roberts and others on NBC tell us how important this tournament is. Golf fans know it’s a superb event.
When NBC brings up the fifth-major talk, it is trying to elevate the importance of the event. Just let the golf speak for itself.
Just the way Pete Dye had intended it
Way back in the early ’80s when Pete Dye built TPC Sawgrass, he designed it to be played with the prevailing winds of March, which are still primarily from the northeast, off the Atlantic Ocean. He was counting on those winds, and some occasional squally weather to test players’ skills, as a factor in scoring at The Players Championship. Moving the date to May changed the winds to the southwest and west, making a hole such as the 18th play downwind most of the time.
It’s great to see the tournament going back to March.
A rough crowd
That setup at Kingsbarns for the Women’s British Open was a joke for an alleged major. Female pros have so much skill as golfers, and this was the best the Brits could do in preparing a course for a venue?
It was pitch and putt, regardless of weather and conditions. Much too easy, as scores showed.
With the PGA this week, the talk is for a tough setup, but I’ll bet they will eat it up. The deepest rough is only 2 inches, and that will be no problem at all for these guys. The course is supposed to be 7,600 yards, but any knowledgeable golfer and fan knows they will never play from the tips every day. Tees will be up, and tee shots will run for many yards.
These so-called 500-yard par 4s will be hit in regulation with no more than a mid-iron. Of course, they will have a drivable par 4 and short par 3 set up, and tees up on the par 5s. Look for double-digit under-par scoring for the winner.
When will they tighten fairways to 35 yards wide and deepen rough to 5 inches? Get rid of the first cut of rough, which is merely an extension of the fairway, so that tee shots are so important as to not miss fairways.
Port St. Lucie, Fla.
An opening for Arizona
The USGA and the PGA of America owe Arizona. We have never hosted a major championship. The fan base and enthusiasm is unchallenged anywhere. We produce one of the most exciting and highly covered events in golf, the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open. Nowhere in the country is the weather as well suited for golf than in metropolitan Phoenix in early May.
If the floundering PGA Championship wants a welcome recovery, this is the new beginning and a breath of fresh air. Bring it on.
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