Jordan Spieth hits a bunker shot on the sixth hole during the Monday practice round of the PGA Championship golf tournament on Aug. 6, 2018, at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.

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Liguori: Moving PGA Championship To May Has Pros, Cons

Weather Up North Could Be Problematic

Ann Liguori
August 08, 2018 - 3:40 pm

ST. LOUIS -- Rain pummeled Bellerive Country Club most of Tuesday morning, interrupting the practice round at the 100th PGA Championship and causing electrical shortages in the area.

Heavy rain could be the least of the PGA of America’s worries when the major moves from August to May next year. The PGA Championship is being staged for the final time in the month of August. It will go from being the last of the four majors each season to the second on the calendar. New York’s own Bethpage Black will be the first venue to host the PGA Championship after its switch to springtime.

As New Yorkers know, May is quite early for golf courses in our area to be in pristine shape to host any tournament, let alone a major championship. A long, brutal winter, like the one New York experienced this year, delayed many courses from being in prime shape that early in the season.

Preparing for the major in May, fighting against the elements and remnants of wintry conditions, could be a concern and put additional stress on the superintendents and crews of the courses up north that are slated to host the PGA Championship in the future -- and there are many. The major is headed to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, in 2022; Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York, in 2023; Aronimink Golf Club in Philadelphia in 2027; and Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield Township, New Jersey, in 2029.

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It was an interesting time to make the schedule change to May given the fact that so many courses in the North were selected to host.

Pete Bevacqua, PGA of America's CEO, who will become president of NBC Sports Group after this PGA Championship, said Wednesday, "We’re about as close to 100 percent confident in that decision as possible."

"That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be difficult situations, but there’s difficult situations whenever you conduct a major championship," he said. "You can have the best plans in the world, but to have a great major, you need a little bit of luck, too. Whether that’s the weather, whether that’s traffic, everything has to come together and has to come together as perfectly or as close to perfectly as possible.”

Renown golf course architect Rees Jones -- who redesigned Bellerive, the host of this week’s PGA Championship, and made design improvements to Bethpage Black prior to the 2009 U.S. Open -- said he thinks the courses in the North will be OK to host in May.

“I’d rather have the PGA Championship in the month of May," he said. "It’s usually beautiful and everything is blooming, whereas in August, it’s dreadfully hot and the grass has turned brown.”

Jones is in favor of the schedule change for many reasons, one being that “more fans have access to the championship in May. They’re still at home. In August, everyone goes on vacation.”  

Many in the golf industry feel that having the PGA Championship in May, as the second major on the calendar after the Masters, makes it more relevant. The main reason for condensing the tour events is so golf doesn’t have to compete with football.

With the Masters in April, the PGA Championship in May and the U.S. Open in June, the final major on the calendar will be the British Open in July.

“I think it’s great that the Open Championship will now be the final major because they don’t care about that,” Jones said. “Their tournament is a singular event. It’s been going longer than any other event. They don’t even think of any other event in terms of comparing themselves. And I agree with them. They are an entity into themselves.”

Jordan Spieth pointed out that the move to May “opens up a lot more venues that you can go to. You can move further south. You can go to really anywhere in the country in May and have an opportunity to play.”

Spieth likes the flow of having four straight months of majors.

“If you can get on a nice run playing some good golf there, starting at the Masters, you can really let it run through the entire major season," he said.

Follow Ann on Twitter at @AnnLiguori. Listen to "Talkin' Golf With Ann Liguori" on Sundays at 7 a.m. on WFAN.