News & Opinion

Making the case for West Coast majors

2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park
TPC Harding Park, a municipal course in San Francisco, is playing host this week to the 102nd PGA Championship. It is the first time in 22 years that the PGA of America has staged its biggest championship on the West Coast.

The bottom line always prevails for the PGA of America and other governing bodies, John Hawkins contends, but Mike Purkey says that the Western U.S. deserves its share of golf's premier events

Hawk & Purk Podcast Hero Article

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the weekly Hawk & Purk podcast on MorningRead.com, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.

Should the PGA of America and USGA hold more of their major championships on the West Coast?

Hawk’s take: Not since 1998 has the PGA Championship ventured anywhere near the shores of the Pacific. And while the USGA seems to have made a concerted effort to go west in recent years, there are two reasons why both organizations remain partial to the northeastern portion of the country: more corporate revenue – a reminder that business comes first – and a larger number of quality layouts with the infrastructure to host such an event.

You’d think the PGA and U.S. Open would spend more time on the Left Coast because of the prime-time television window, but these days, the corporate dough represents greater potential for growth because the TV contracts for both tournaments are already locked in. Should they play more majors out west? Maybe, and with two U.S. Opens and a PGA scheduled for California over the next seven years, that’s about as frequent as those visits will get.

The bottom line is the bottom line, if you get my drift. And given all the coronavirus-related issues that will stunt the generation of income this year, specifically the lack of ticket sales and subsequent losses from the merchandise tents and concession stands, it’s hard to envision a philosophical change just around the corner. In a perfect world, the two roving majors held in the United States would provide an opportunity for golf fans everywhere to witness pro golf’s most important gatherings.

As we’ve learned in 2020, however, this world is far from perfect.

Purk’s take: When it comes to Left Coast majors, the choices are few and predictable. California has hosted the U.S. Open 13 times, but 11 of those were split between Pebble Beach Golf Links (six) and Olympic Club (five). The Open goes to Torrey Pines for a second time in 2021, to Pebble in 2027 and the PGA Championship to Olympic in 2028.

But there are more worthy West Coast venues. The famed North Course at Los Angeles Country Club will host the Open in 2023, and if that membership can be convinced to host a major, the members at San Francisco Golf Club might consider one, since it happens to be the best course in the city.

The U.S. Amateur is sometimes a test event for a venue that wants to host a U.S. Open. This year’s Amateur is at Bandon Dunes Resort on the Oregon coast. A windswept Pacific Dunes would leave people talking about the Open for years.

Riviera showed its teeth in February at the Northern Trust Open, and now that the PGA Championship is in May, Riviera deserves another shot. How about a PGA at Spyglass Hill? It’s the toughest course on the Monterey Peninsula, and under the right conditions, it could be a beast. Yes, Chambers Bay was a disappointment in 2015, but it wouldn’t be the worst idea for the Open or the PGA to give the Tacoma, Wash.-area muni another shot, if the right changes were made.

Besides, don’t you really like majors in prime time?

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