SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — PGA of America officials have been consistently upbeat when asked about moving this year’s PGA Championship up on the calendar from mid-August to late July to accommodate golf’s return to the Olympics. Any residual impact, they insist, has been minimal. If anything thing, the date change helped ticket sales given the habit of New York/New Jersey residents to taking summer vacations in August.
Whether the situation will work out quite as favorably in 2020, however, remains to be seen. The association faces a similar timing issue surrounding the Tokyo Olympics, which are slated for July 21-Aug. 9. That year, the PGA Championship will be played in San Francisco at TPC Harding Park, but currently there is no date for the tournament and likely won’t be for a couple more years.
“Nothing’s off the table. Nothing’s been decided. But we are considering many options,” said PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua.
Of course, the PGA of America doesn’t move its date in a vacuum, but must coordinate with various other golf organizations, most notably the PGA Tour. Bevacqua says the various groups have had early discussions and will continue to do so after the games.
Among the scenarios being discussed:
• Keep the PGA in August, but move it later in the month to give it some space from the Olympic competition.
• Move it ahead to March and play if for that year prior to the Masters in April. (There’s precedence for this, as the 1971 PGA was contested in February.)
• Move it back to October and play it after the Ryder Cup is held at Whistling Straits in September.
Bevacqua says that Harding Park offers the PGA of America flexibility in picking a date, as the weather can accommodate several alternatives. “It’s why we choose to go there in 2020 in the first place,” he said. “We knew we would be facing this issue.”
Whatever decision is made, ultimately it needs to happen no later than 18 months ahead of the championship, says Bevacqua, in order to have the time to properly sell tickets and corporate hospitality packages.
“This is a major championship,” Bevacqua It’s one of the most important events in sports. Certainly one of the most important events in golf. And we need to find a spot on the schedule that works not just for the PGA Championship but for the golf schedule as a whole. A rising tide lifts all ships, and that’s how we feel.”