Word is out today (mostly through Ron Sirak of Golf Digest/Golf World) that the PGA of America is thinking about playing its championship outside of the United States within the next 10 years or so.
You can ponder why the PGA of America would go outside of America to play its biggest event all you want. But it comes down to three things: money, recognition and the global nature of the game.
Let’s start with recognition. The PGA Championship is one of golf’s for majors. But it ranks pretty much fourth among those majors in most people’s eyes. It’s not the U.S. Open or British Open, and it’s not the Masters. So maybe you do a little thinking in the headquarters of the PGA and say, hey, we could get some good publicity by playing this event outside the United States.
Then there is money. There is some money floating around Asia, and some pretty golf-crazy fans over there, too. Do you think an Asian country would like to have one of golf’s four biggest events played there? And just how much would that county be willing to pay for the rights to have the event played outside the United States? Certainly more than the PGA is getting from Whistling Straits or Quail Hollow. So there is a monetary reason to play overseas.
Finally, there is the global nature of the game. Three of the four majors are played in the United States, even as the game grows around the world but is rather stagnant here.With an increasing number of top players from Europe and Asia, exposing a major championship to those countries would be a good thing for the PGA and for the game itself.
There would be issues, of course. What about America television, which pays a lot of money for such events. I can’t imagine CBS would be pleased with putting the event on at 3 a.m. eastern, midnight Pacific. I can’t imagine American fans would be thrilled, either. And in this day of instance knowledge through the internet, few people hang around to watch tape-delayed coverage because they already know the scores.
And what about the 20 club professionals from the PGA of America who qualify for the tournament? Wouldn’t playing overseas be a hardship for them? Or would the PGA of America step in a help with expenses for those players?
And another thing. The PGA of America has already awarded the championship sites for the event through 2019. So the earliest the championship could be played outside the United States would be 2020.
And remember, being played outside the United States could mean Vancouver or Montreal, not necessarily Beijing or Mardid.