Played in its current time slot of August since 1969, other than in a one-off move to February in 1971, the PGA had been forced to consider its options due to, amongst other matters, the re-introduction of golf at the Olympics.
Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York will host the first staging of the event’s new date change between May 16–19, 2019.
PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan jointly held a Tuesday media conference at this week's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club and indicated that the Olympics had played the major role in the move.
"Our analysis began in 2013 and included an extensive list of factors, including having to shift the date every four years to accommodate the Olympic Games,” said Bevacqua.
“In the end, we determined that playing the PGA Championship the week prior to Memorial Day in May, making it the second major championship of the golf calendar, will achieve those objectives.
The announcement has caused a flow on impact in the time slots for other significant events with the PLAYERS Championship shifting back from May to its previous date in March and the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship moving to early September.
This will now mean that elite tournament golf has its most significant annual championships, four of them majors, on a staggered basis between March and September.
The PLAYERS in March, is followed by the Masters in April, the PGA Championship in May, the US Open in June, the Open Championship in July, the BMW PGA Championship in September and, every four years, the Olympics in August.
"The golf calendar is dramatically different, especially in the latter portions of the schedule, than it was in the 1970s when our PGA Championship took up residence in August," added Bevacqua.
“We are excited about this move to May. It provides our PGA Championship a strong landing spot on the calendar and a consistent major championship rhythm that golf fans can embrace. For nearly 85 per cent of our membership, May is also on the front-end of the golf season.
"This date change will allow them to engage new players and introduce various Growth of the Game initiatives entering the heart of the golf season across much of the country."
Commissioner Monahan was delighted with the move which will see the PGA Tour's flagship event, the Players Championship, moved forward in the schedule and become the first main target of the year for the game’s leading players.
“We are thrilled to announce these two significant changes, which will greatly enhance the professional golf calendar starting in 2019,” said Monahan.
“Our thanks to the PGA of America for its partnership in what will allow both organistions to meet our short and long-term objectives, while delivering incredibly compelling golf to our fans around the world.
“THE PLAYERS Championship has grown in stature since we moved to May in 2007 and, regardless of the date, is clearly one of the premier events in all of golf – the best players in the world and a premier venue in THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
“THE PLAYERS moving to March in 2019 will enhance an already strong Florida portion of our calendar and play a significant role in an overall improved schedule.”
Events such as the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup, the Olympics and the FedEx Cup finals will all add to the complications of making everything fit but the move appears, already, to be receiving player support with Rory McIlroy giving the decision the thumbs up when he spoke to the media today.
“I think it's great for the golf schedule," said the four-time major winner. “I think a May date for The PGA of America is a really good thing, and just from a player's perspective, to now have one really big tournament every month from March, THE PLAYERS, to the Masters to the PGA Championship to the U.S. Open to the Open, and to have the FedExCup most likely at end of August or start of September; it just has a better flow to it, I think.
“I've been a big supporter of it from the first time I heard about it, and the announcement today, I think has been very well received by a lot of the players in the locker room.
“Obviously it's still a couple years away, but I'm excited to play a schedule like that going forward. It should be good. Especially with Presidents Cup and The Ryder Cup now obviously every year, I think it just gives,especially the American guys who have to play a team event every year as well, it just gives them just a little bit more time. Overall, I think it's a great thing.”
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