The PGA Championship has been played in August every year save one since 1971, but this week’s Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte will be the next to last: Beginning in 2019, it’ll permanently move to May and become the year’s second major.
The change, in the works for a few years, is expected to be officially announced later today, but the news has been leaked to the AP already. And it’s going to mean a major shift to golf’s calendar. Now the four majors will take place in April (the Masters), May, June (the U.S. Open), and July (the Open Championship), rather than cramming the last three of them into a seven-week stretch in the height of summer.
There are a number of reasons for the change.
- The PGA tour intensely wants to finish its season before the NFL starts up, and that’s now possible. With the Open Championship wrapping up the majors in July, the FedEx Cup playoffs can be held in August and be done by Labor Day. So while the PGA Championship will now have a little increased competition from the NHL and NBA playoffs, that’s a small price to pay to no longer be competing with the NFL on fall Sundays.
- Golf is back at the Summer Olympics, starting last year, and getting the major season done by August, when the Games are typically held, will free players to travel and avoid having to tweak the calendar every four years (as it was last year, when the PGA Championship was bumped up to July ahead of the Rio games.)
- Moving a major to May opens up Sun Belt courses to host—they’re just too damn hot in August. As Golf Digest notes, a major hasn’t been held in Texas since 1969 or Florida since 1987. The potential drawback is that some northern courses might be a little chilly in May—the 2023 PGA Championship is scheduled for Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., for example.
All fine reasons to make the change. (It’ll kick in with the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black on Long Island, N.Y.) But I can’t help thinking we’re going to miss having a major in August, in the peak of the sports calendar’s dead zone. One whole extra weekend with nothing to watch but baseball’s slog.