Now on the Tee… The PGA Championship

Golf’s fourth and final major of the year has always been the step-child of the majors in my eyes.

The Masters, US Open, and Open Championship all have prestigious histories. If you asked a professional or any golfer which major they would want to win if they had the chance, I’d be surprised if any of them said the PGA as their first answer.

My dream would be to win the Masters or the Open. To me, the PGA doesn’t have that strong history or sense of tradition. The Masters has a tradition of not only honoring the game but growing the game, as well as constantly reviewing and reconstructing Augusta National to be a harder test for its participants. The US Open always pushes the limits of the host course to be as tough of a set up as possible. The Open is naturally grueling due to links style courses and the ever unpredictable British weather.

And the PGA Championship? Uh… I don’t know. They have club and teaching professionals play in the tournament? That’s pretty cool?

I say this, yet I know the facts about this year’s four majors…

Winning score:
US Open: -16
British: -12
Masters: -9
PGA: -8

It was great to see Quail Hollow playing tough this week. Players said that the greens were some of the fastest they had ever played on, and speculated they were only going to get faster and firmer. (This was somewhat squandered by the rain mid-tournament) All-time, the PGA is tied with the Open for lowest major 72-hole record, at -20 (Masters being -18 and US Open being -16).

It was also interesting to hear Jordan Spieth say in one of his press conferences that the PGA is going to be the hardest for him to win ‘based on how it sets up for him’. A weird thing for him to say after winning the, in my opinion, harder majors which are always more commonly seen as the hardest to win.

It is hard to figure out what sort of identity the PGA Championship should have to make it stand out from…

Masters: Immaculate conditions
US Open: HARD (well, except for Tiger in 2000, Rory in 2010, and Koepka this year)
Open Championship: Old school golf and horrible weather
PGA Championship: ?

Well, maybe the best way to start is to not have it be the “FINAL CHANCE AT GLORY AND GOLF IMMORTALITY”…AKA the last major of the season. This step has already been taken. Starting in 2019, the PGA Championship will be held in May.

This puts golf’s oldest major in the four spot, a position the Open Championship will have no problem holding. It also brings a more consistent flow to the timing of each year’s majors. Now, there will be one major every month; instead of April, then a month gap till June, July, and a short two and a half week break till August.

So, how do you make the PGA unique?

You could make the courses harder, but that’s sort of the Masters/US Open’s thing. What about more of a focus on the club/teaching professionals who qualified to play in the major? Maybe emphasize that they present a medal/trophy for lowest finisher? Well, I feel that it comes off as insulting. Basically saying that they are no different than the amateurs that play in the US Open, who get their own medal for finishing lowest out of all the Am’s.

I think the best option is to look to the courses the PGA is played at. I would love to see this major contested at new, exciting, and unique courses. There have been some examples in the past: Whistling Straits, Whistling Straits, and Whistling Straits (it has hosted three times). Besides Whistling, the PGA has played very nice, but somewhat unexciting courses. It would be awesome to see the PGA be contested at some of the newer and more unique courses in the US. A PGA Championship would be perfect redemption for Chambers Bay (A kid can dare to dream right?).

The next five PGA Championship host courses have already been selected…

2018: Bellerive CC (hosted before in 1982)
2019: Bethpage Black (Cool! but come on, US Open has did it first)
2020: TPC Harding Park (I’m down with this, actually)
2021: Ocean Course at Kiawah Island (Return to the site of Rory’s domination in 2012)
2022: Trump National Bedminster (If it’s still called that)

TPC Harding Park is promising, but besides that two of the five sites have already hosted (Bellerive and Ocean Course). As I already mentioned, I think Chambers Bay would be a great course for the PGA especially because they will have five plus years to prepare for it. An even more unlikely but amazing course would be Bandon Dunes. This might become possible when humanity decides to colonize where ever in the Oregonian wilderness Bandon Dunes is hiding.

Time will tell, but the change to the tournament being held in May is a great start.

So, about this weekend…

After fully expecting to see Justin Thomas hoisting up the US Open trophy at Erin Hills, it was great to see JT pull through at Quail Hollow. His final round had some great moments: The long putt he made on nine, the Tiger-esque putt he made on ten (and the Jordan shrug after it fell in), and just watching him rip the ball off the tee all day.

It was an exciting weekend because this means we are half way to SB2K17 boys major wins bingo. I can only hope Smylie Kaufman pulls off a win at The Masters and Rickie closes out at the US Open next year.

For now, we look forward to the President’s Cup. But man, this was such a satisfying way to end what was a very fun and exciting major season.

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