ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - The PGA Championship celebrated its 100th anniversary on Sunday before heralding a new era in which golf’s neglected major will no longer to be known as “Glory’s Last Shot”.
A reshuffling of the calendar which will be rolled out next season with the PGA Championship, traditionally the last of the four majors, moving from August to the mid-May slot following the U.S. Masters.
While not exactly a makeover, the shift will give the PGA a new look in a slot where fans are gearing up for the golf season rather than gearing down.
“We’re excited about the move to May,” PGA of America’s Chief Commercial Officer Jeff Price told Reuters.
“But the opportunity to start next year at Bethpage in May from a golf calendar perspective being the second major on the schedule is a wonderful opportunity.
“We are heading into the core of the golf season so for getting people inspired to play the game the timing of that couldn’t be better so on any number of levels we are thrilled about what the opportunity in May will bring.”
From Walter Hagen to Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods many of golf’s greats have hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy but it has never carried the same prestige as slipping into a Green Jacket or kissing the Claret Jug.
Ask any golfer which major he would want to win and the cliche answer would be any but push them and the PGA Championship tops very few lists.
Sports Illustrated asked 50 professionals in 2012 which major would they most like to win and half said the Masters (50 percent) followed by the British Open (25), U.S. Open (23) and PGA (2).
Not much has changed over the years.
Thesandtrap.com did a similar survey in July with the Masters (43 percent), U.S. Open (29), British Open (24) and the PGA holding steady at 2.
For much of its 100-year existence the PGA Championship has been the orphan of golf majors.
Since it was established in 1916 it has been played in nine different months and for two lengthy stretches from 1959-70 and 1972-2018 rounded off the major season.
Golf’s return to the Olympics has also been problematic for the PGA of America which once every four years has its flagship event bumped into July to accommodate the Summer Games.
Aside from the fact the PGA is a major it brings nothing unique to the table, making it in many eyes little more than a glorified PGA Tour event.
The Masters is always played at Augusta, the British Open is golf’s oldest major with a course rotation that includes the sport’s spiritual home St. Andrews and the U.S. Open has successfully promoted itself as golf’s toughest test.
With a venue rotation widely viewed as uninspiring the PGA Championship has tried to trade on the fact that it is the season’s last major, marketing itself with the slogan “Glory’s Last Shot”.
The move to May alone will not suddenly elevate the PGA Championship’s stature but it could bring it more attention.
Price says statistics show television viewership is 25 percent higher in May than August and more eyes, if nothing else, mean more money.
The move to May also comes at an opportune time with the PGA of America’s television deal with CBS and Turner expiring.
“We are the only major championship in golf coming into the market from a television standpoint for the next nine years,” said Price. “It will be nine years before another major championship comes back into the market.
“We are in the process of negotiating or renegotiating our next deal, hopefully a long term deal and we look forward to that May window being something that will add real value, certainly with 25 percent households with television usage during the month of May and advertisers who don’t really spend in August are active in May.
“We look forward on capitalizing on that.”
Editing by Ed Osmond