CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA | What PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua called the worst-kept secret in golf – moving the PGA Championship from August to May beginning 2019 – may have lacked the element of surprise when it was announced Tuesday, but the impact is profound.
It’s not just the game that’s changing. The traditional PGA Tour schedule is changing.
It was actually a dual announcement Tuesday at the Quail Hollow Club:
Bevacqua confirmed reports that the PGA Championship will have a mid-May date, beginning in 2019 when the event will be played at Bethpage Black on Long Island, while PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan moved the other big piece in the puzzle, announcing the Players Championship will return to March, also in 2019.
Both moves had been chewed on in the court of public opinion and vetted through various constituencies to make sure the shift was justified. It sounded so good to the PGA of America that Bevacqua pushed for the change as soon as possible. If tickets and corporate hospitality packages hadn’t been sold already for the PGA Championship at Bellerive in St. Louis 12 months from now, Bevacqua would have been ready to jump next year.
Playing northern venues in mid to late May? Not a concern, Bevacqua said.
There are many more details to be worked out by the PGA Tour – be ready for a three-event FedEx Cup playoff series with potentially dramatic changes to the Tour Championship ending by Labor Day weekend – but change is coming.
“(It) made sense for us and made sense for the PGA Tour, and we think it made sense for the overall golf calendar,” Bevacqua said.
“And there becomes an unbelievably powerful and comfortable cadence with this change; when you think about the Players Championship to the Masters to the PGA to the U.S. Open to The Open Championship to the FedEx Cup and the Playoffs, and ending the year in such a fashion, depending on what year it is, with The Ryder Cup or The Presidents Cup.”
For Bevacqua, the shift makes sense on three levels: It’s better for the championship, better for the players and better for the PGA of America to have its centerpiece set when golf season is coming fully alive in the United States.
It also helps Monahan restructure the PGA Tour schedule. The commissioner declined to specify about how the 2018-19 Tour schedule will look but a few things are clear. The Florida swing will regain its former hold on March with the Players joining the Honda Classic, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Valspar Championship.
It’s also no secret the FedEx Cup playoffs are likely to be reduced from four to three events with the intention of providing a big bang finish to a season that can end before football takes the stage. It’s possible the Tour Championship will rotate to different venues as well.
The impact isn’t lost on the European Tour which announced Tuesday that the BMW PGA Championship, its glossiest event, will move from May to September in 2019.
FROM THE LATEST ISSUE: Support is Strong for PGA Move to May