The History of The PGA Championship



The PGA Championship (often referred to as the U.S. PGA Championship or U.S. PGA outside of the United States) is an annual golf tournament conducted by the Professional Golfers' Association of America. It is one of the four major championships in professional golf, and it is the golf season's final major, played in mid-August on the third weekend prior to Labor Day weekend. (It was rescheduled for 2016 to late July to accommodate golf's return to the Olympics.) It is an official money event on the PGA Tour, European Tour, and Japan Golf Tour, with a purse of $10 million since the 97th edition in 2015.

In line with the other majors, winning "the PGA" gains privileges that improve career security. PGA champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors (Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, and The Open Championship) for the next five years, and are exempt from qualifying for the PGA Championship for life.[citation needed] They receive membership on the PGA and European Tours for the following five seasons and invitations to The Players Championship for five years. The PGA Championship has been held at a large number of venues, some of the early ones now quite obscure, but currently it is usually staged by one of a small group of celebrated courses, each of which has also hosted several other leading events, including the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup.[citation needed]

History

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) In 1894, with 41 golf courses operating in the United States, two unofficial national championships for amateur golfers were organized. One was held at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island, and the other at St. Andrew's Golf Club in New York. In addition, and at the same time as the amateur event, St. Andrew's conducted an Open championship for professional golfers. None of the championships was officially sanctioned by a governing body for American golf, causing considerable controversy among players and organizers. Later in 1894 this led to the formation of the United States Golf Association (USGA), which became the first formal golf organization in the country. After the formation of the USGA, golf quickly became a sport of national popularity and importance.

In February 1916 the Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) was established in New York City. One month earlier, the wealthy department store owner Rodman Wanamaker hosted a luncheon with the leading golf professionals of the day at the Wykagyl Country Club in nearby New Rochelle. The attendees prepared the agenda for the formal organization of the PGA;[1] consequently, golf historians have dubbed Wykagyl "The Cradle of the PGA."[2] The new organization's first president was Robert White, one of Wykagyl's best-known golf professionals.[citation needed]

The first PGA Championship was held in October 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York.[3] The winner, Jim Barnes, received $500 and a diamond-studded gold medal donated by Rodman Wanamaker. The 2016 winner, Jimmy Walker, earned $1.8 million. The champion is also awarded a replica of the Wanamaker Trophy, which was also donated by Wanamaker, to keep for one year, and a smaller-sized keeper replica Wanamaker Trophy.[4][5]

Format

Initially a match play event, the PGA Championship was originally played in early fall but varied from May to December. Following World War II, the championship was mostly played in late May or late June, then moved to early July in 1953 and a few weeks later in 1954, with the finals played on Tuesday. As a match play event (with a stroke play qualifier), it was not uncommon for the finalists to play over 200 holes in seven days. The 1957 event lost money,[6] and at the PGA meetings in November it was changed to stroke play, starting in 1958, with the standard 72-hole format of 18 holes per day for four days, Thursday to Sunday. Network television broadcasters, preferring a large group of well-known contenders on the final day, pressured the PGA of America to make the format change.[7]

During the 1960s, the PGA Championship was played the week following The Open Championship five times, making it virtually impossible for players to compete in both majors. In 1965, the PGA was contested for the first time in August, and returned in 1969, save for a one-year move to late February in 1971, played in Florida. The 2016 event was moved to late July, two weeks after the Open Championship, to accommodate the 2016 Summer Olympics in August.[8]

Prior to the 2017 edition, it was announced that the tournament would be moved to May on the weekend prior to Memorial Day, beginning in 2019. The PGA Tour concurrently announced that it would move its Players Championship back to March the same year; it had been moved from March to May in 2007. The PGA of America cited the addition of golf to the Summer Olympics, as well as cooler weather enabling a wider array of options for host courses, as reasoning for the change. It was also believed that the PGA Tour wished to re-align its season so that it would be completed before the start of football season.[9][10][11]

Location

The PGA Championship is primarily played in the eastern half of the United States, only ten times has it ventured west. It was last played in the Pacific time zone 19 years ago in 1998, at Sahalee east of Seattle, and California's most recent was in 1995 at Riviera. (The Mountain time zone has hosted three, all in suburban Denver, in 1941, 1967, and 1985.) The 102nd edition in 2020 is scheduled for TPC Harding Park in San Francisco,[12][13] the first for the Bay Area and a return to California after a quarter century.

Through 2016, the state of New York has hosted twelve times, followed by Ohio (11) and Pennsylvania (9).

Promotion

The tournament was previously promoted with the slogan "Glory's Last Shot". In 2013, the tagline had been dropped in favor of "The Season's Final Major", as suggested by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem whilst discussing the allowance of a one-week break in its schedule prior to the Ryder Cup. Finchem had argued that the slogan was not appropriate as it weakened the stature of events that occur after it, such as the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs. PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua explained that they had also had discussions with CBS, adding that "it was three entities that all quickly came to the same conclusion that, you know what, there's just not much in that tag line and we don’t feel it's doing much for the PGA Championship, so let's not stick with it. Let's think what else is out there."[14][15] For a time, the tournament used the slogan "This is Major" as a replacement.[16][17]

Qualification

The PGA Championship was established for the purpose of providing a high-profile tournament specifically for professional golfers at a time when they were generally not held in high esteem in a sport that was largely run by wealthy amateurs. This origin is still reflected in the entry system for the Championship. It is the only major that does not explicitly invite leading amateurs to compete (it is possible for amateurs to get into the field, although the only viable ways are by winning one of the other major championships, or winning a PGA Tour event while playing on a sponsor's exemption), and the only one that reserves a large number of places, 20 of 156, for club professionals. These slots are determined by the top finishers in the club pro championship, which is held in June.

Since December 1968, the PGA Tour has been independent of the PGA of America.[18][19][20]

The PGA Tour is an elite organization of tournament professionals, but the PGA Championship is still run by the PGA of America, which is mainly a body for club and teaching professionals. The PGA Championship is the only major that does not explicitly grant entry to the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, although it invariably invites all of the top 100 (not just top 50) players who are not already qualified.[citation needed]

List of qualification criteria as of 2010:

All former PGA Champions. Winners of the last five U.S. Opens. Winners of the last five Masters. Winners of the last five Open Championships. The last Senior PGA Champion. The low 15 scorers and ties in the previous PGA Championship. The 20 low scorers in the last PGA Professional National Championship. The 70 leaders in official money standings on the PGA Tour (starting one week prior to the previous year's PGA Championship and ending two weeks prior to the current year's PGA Championship). Members of the most recent United States and European Ryder Cup Teams, provided they are in the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking as of one week before the start of the tournament. Winners of tournaments co-sponsored or approved by the PGA Tour since the previous PGA Championship (does not include pro-am and team competitions, but does include alternate events). The PGA of America reserves the right to invite additional players not included in the categories listed above. The total field is a maximum of 156 players. Vacancies are filled by the first available player from the list of alternates (those below 70th place in official money standings).


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