Players are allowed to wear shorts during practice rounds at the PGA Championship. That won’t be necessary in two years when it moves to May.
The PGA of America is moving its major championship to May for the first time in 70 years when it goes to Bethpage Black on New York’s Long Island in 2019 as part of a long-term plan that involves a major shift in the golf calendar, including The Players Championship going back to its March date, The Associated Press has learned.
Two officials involved in the discussions say the PGA of America and PGA Tour will discuss details of the move as early as Tuesday at Quail Hollow Club, site of this year’s PGA Championship.
The change has been in the works for four years, one official said. The catalyst behind the movement was golf’s return to the Olympics, along with the PGA Tour’s desire to wrap up its FedEx Cup before the NFL begins.
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The move to May also puts the PGA Championship in the middle of the major championship season – after the Masters, before the U.S. Open – instead of being stuck at the end in August when sports fans have one eye turned toward football.
Still to be determined is the how the rest of the PGA Tour schedule is constricted to finish around Labor Day. One official said the playoff event in Boston is likely to go away after 2018. Another official said one plan is for the Greenbrier Classic, typically held in July, to move to the fall.
The PGA Championship has been in August since 1969 with two exceptions. Jack Nicklaus won in February 1971 when it was held at PGA National in South Florida, and last year it was held the final weekend in July at Baltusrol ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The PGA is scheduled for Harding Park in San Francisco in 2020.
The PGA of America was interested in building continuity, and a move to May could energize what has been looked upon as the last of the four majors. That also would allow it to go to some areas that were deemed too hot for August, such as Texas, Florida and parts of the Southeast. It already has said the PGA Championship would return to Southern Hills in Tulsa before 2030.
But it also eliminates other parts of the country from hosting the PGA.
One official said two traditional sites – Whistling Straits in Wisconsin and Hazeltine in Minnesota – would not be able to host the PGA Championship in May. Officials feel comfortable with the weather and agronomy for Bethpage Black, and they are hopeful for good weather in 2023 for Oak Hill in Rochester, New York.