PGA's Big Decision: Should The Other 2022 Major Venues Matter?
With St Andrews And The Country Club Set To Host In 2022, Will Course Cachet Influence The PGA of America's Board?
Staff presentations have reportedly been made and the PGA of America’s board could vote as soon as Monday on a 2022 PGA Championship replacement.
From securing hotel rooms to ensuring politicians are on board, a lot goes into selecting a venue. But with only 488 days until the first tee shot—assuming a May 19-22, 2022 playing—the PGA is forced to prioritize logistics.
The ability to dust off site plans for previous or upcoming venues remains the most likely driving force besides the traditional bottom line. That’s why any recent or upcoming PGA of America championship site stands out as a favorite to fill the 2022 opening. (Think Bellerive, Baltusrol, Oak Hill, Valhalla, Southern Hills, Bethpage, etc.).
But should the distinguished nature of 2022’s other major sites force the PGA to pick a course worthy of standing with The Country Club (U.S. Open) and The Old Course at St Andrews (The Open)?
Concerns of an also-ran dynamic were not at issue when Trump Bedminster was selected in 2014 when PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua announced the Trump partnership. The USGA was still a year out from announcing a triumphant return to historic Brookline while The Old Course was expected to see the Open return in 2020 or 2021, depending on the R&A’s passion for celebrating the 150th playing in St Andrews. The anniversary ultimately prevailed. When the pandemic-cancelled 2020 Open was pushed back a year, the 2021 Open planned for Old Course subsequently moved to 2022.
Also factoring into this first of First World matters: the PGA Championship was played in August when Trump Bedminster was selected. Glory’s Second Shot now exits the stage for whatever powerhouse venue the USGA or R&A have planned (and they certainly sport formidable lineups for both the men and women over the next decade). The PGA of America made some rough August landings following a magical week in the Auld Grey Toon:
2015 - Chambers Bay, The Old Course, Whistling Straits
2010 - Pebble Beach, The Old Course Whistling Straits
2005 - Pinehurst, The Old Course, Baltusrol
2000 - Pebble Beach, The Old Course, Valhalla
1995 - Shinnecock Hills, The Old Course, Riviera
1990 - Medinah No. 3, The Old Course, Shoal Creek
1984 - Winged Foot, The Old Course, Shoal Creek
1978 - Cherry Hills, The Old Course, Oakmont
1970 - Hazeltine National, The Old Course, Southern Hills
1964 - Congressional, The Old Course, Columbus CC
You get the idea. Those August landings look better when a Baltusrol, Riviera, Oakmont or Southern Hills is waiting at the gate.
This time around the PGA could invoke a short-notice, must-stay-in-New-Jersey excuse to whittle their list down. The lack of time could justify something as architecturally terrible as Liberty National (installed as a 2/1 favorite), even though the much-renovated Bob Cupp-Tom Kite design was ranked the players’ least-favorite Tour venue in 2012. The course is set to host 2021’s Northern Trust (after just staging the 2017 Presidents Cup) and does have those spectacular Statue of Liberty and city views that have little to do with producing a great major. The PGA Tour’s Championship Management team could theoretically leave behind some signs, ropes and tents from this year’s Northern Trust and PGA officials could say they remained in the Garden State.
Placing Liberty National alongside historic sites would also be a blow to the PGA Championship’s positive trajectory and may not even work financially. The Five Families have oversaturated the New York market leading to non-sellouts at Bethpage (2019 PGA) and Shinnecock Hills (2018 U.S. Open). Early corporate sales for Trump Bedminster were not thought to be robust.
There is no predicting what 20 board members will do when they huddle on Zoom. But steering the PGA Championship to one of those trusty, architecturally-replenished stalwarts would make more sense given the supreme venues awaiting in 2022.