Exclusive: PGA Of America Looking At Taking Major Overseas

By Ron Sirak Photos by J.D. Cuban
October 14, 2013

Jason Dufner hoists the Wanamaker Trophy at the 2013 PGA Championship.

The PGA Championship, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016, the year golf returns to the Olympics, may be played outside the United States sometime in the next decade, sources have told Golf World. The sources say a committee is well into a study of what impact holding the event around the world would have on the 27,000 club and teaching professionals who are PGA of America members and on the overall growth of the game.

"This is an exercise we are going through, an analysis. It is far from a fait accompli that we are going to take the PGA Championship international," PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua said when asked to comment on information obtained by Golf World. "When we sat down to map our strategic plan to service our members and grow the game the question arose as to what impact it would have to take the PGA Championship to an international location once or twice a decade."

The earliest an overseas PGA Championship could happen is 2020, after the current television contract with CBS and Turner Sports expires with the 2019 competition, which was awarded last month to New York's Bethpage State Park. Bevacqua said the PGA of America's TV partner would be one of many organizations that would need to buy into the idea.

"It would be something we would only do if we had the cooperation of quite a few groups," Bevacqua said. "It would need to work for the PGA Tour, and it would need to work for the PGA Tour players. Another would be the PGA in the particular area we would consider. We would want the international PGAs to be a part of this and share in this. Many pieces would have to fall in place."

Bevacqua said many PGA of America members have expressed interest in expanding the organization's brand globally to increase job opportunities. He also noted that protecting -- even if it is to the point of subsidizing -- the 20 PGA club professionals who qualify for the 156 spots in the PGA Championship would be essential.

"It wouldn't happen unless it included them, that's how important those 20 spots are to us. That is part of the DNA, of the backbone, of the PGA Championship," said Bevacqua, who added that there is no timetable for a decision and no specific part of the world under consideration.

"We need to push ourselves to think outside the box," Bevacqua said. "What I have said internally is, 'Shame on us if we don't consider it and go through the exercise.' "