Finally reading former PGA of America President Ted Bishop’s interview with Golf Magazine made me realize why the game struggles like it does…Bishop, while well meaning, comes off as another old white dude who doesn’t understand why you can’t say certain things, especially when you’re the head of an organization that pulls in upwards of $1 billion in annual revenue (according to their most recent tax forms). He came from the world of private country clubs, and yes, he was a teaching professional (which is what the PGA of America is for- please don’t confuse them with the PGA Tour which are two entirely different organizations who serve entirely different populations).
So over two scotches (or “thinkin’ juice” as I like to call it), I came up with a plan to help them move into the 21st century and bring some badly needed change to the two events that they’re best known for contesting (the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup).
Starting things off, I accepted the nomination from the PGA of America to be their CEO. Sorry, Mr Bevacqua but you won’t be needed. This idea of naming major championship venues 10-12 years out (especially given your choices) is, to put it politely, a pile of horseshit. I don’t need a 7-figure pay packet…I’ll take a third of that and the PGA of America can put that money into junior golf programs and turfgrass research (work on trying to find grasses that are more heat and drought tolerant).
Step one is fixing the PGA Championship. It falls in August, and despite this, the PGA of America has a hard-on for the mid-west and the north east portions of the country. They’ve held the championship on the West coast 7 times (8 if you count the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park), or less than 8% of the time. Insulting and short sided doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Having lived in both Southern and Northern California, you know what you don’t have to worry about in August? Rain. Thunderstorms. Humidity. Since August is usually a dead period for TV viewing, we’ll follow what NBC did with the US Open- have a finish during East Coast prime time. There you go, East Coast/Midwest golfers- enjoy your day and then come home and watch the final round over dinner.
So where would I look? I’d put Pebble Beach on a short list of courses to consider with Bandon Dunes (they have the land and they’ve already hosted a US Amateur), Torrey Pines, TPC Harding Park, Olympic Club, Riviera, Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon (hosted a US Amateur- some fella named Woods won it in 1996) and Shaughnessy Golf Club in Vancouver, BC. Before you start screaming and yelling, you can golf just about year-round in Vancouver and the course is a traditional classic that with no whistles and bells beat up the best of the PGA Tour a few years ago when it hosted the Canadian Open. If Riviera isn’t an option, I’d look at Trump National Los Angeles.
I’d also change the format. Not to drop history on you, but the PGA Championship used to be match play…or what the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup use. I understand CBS isn’t going to run the risk of having a final between two guys that the vast majority of casual sports fans have never heard of, so we’re going to make a couple minor tweaks.
Rounds 1 and 2 will be in threesomes in two waves off the 1st and 10th tee with guys either going early/late or late/early. Sounds simple enough, right? The cut will be the top 65 and ties. Period. Now here’s where the fun begins. We start a whole new tournament after the cut. Before you retire to your fainting chair or your chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssse or whatever, the US Amateur does essentially the same thing.
What I would do, however, is allow the top 20 finishers to pick their own tee time for the third round and then let the PGA of America do the rest. So let’s say you finished early and you like to play early…this is your reward (the fourth and final round goes out like it already does).
My overall thought is this (while watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs)- everything a team did in the regular season simply determines seeding in the playoffs. It’s not like they start with a lead or something. It also means that the guy in front can’t coast on their laurels, and the guy who gets in on the number starts with equal footing.
The Ryder Cup is already a great event, but it hasn’t seen the West Coast or the Rockies since 1959. It’s never been held at Pebble Beach. Bandon Dunes should also be considered. Cherry Hills CC in Colorado is another course I’d put up for consideration. The Olympic Club in San Francisco is another great option. The Europeans shouldn’t mind that much, and if they do, then let them pout.
Let’s hope the rain holds off tomorrow and everyone can enjoy a nice (albeit cool) day of golf. Hit ’em straight!