Blog
04
November
Will the PGA Championship go global?
By: Ross Starkey

If the PGA are sitting around the table and talking this idea through then it represents one of the biggest strategic changes since it switched from match play to stroke play 56 years ago.

Australian ears must have also been alerted, as quick to stake a claim was the head of Australia's PGA Brian Thorburn, stressing the infrastructure, successful Presidents Cup event, player preference and state funding. He's got a point to, Australia would be an ideal place for the PGA to go, its both a familiar and well developed sporting nation. It would also make for compelling late night views for Americans, much like how the Masters gets prime time night viewing figures in Britain.

It was all sparked by a GolfWorld interview when the PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua admitted that the discussion of whether to go global was brought up during a meeting reviewing its own strategy map. As Bevacqua says:

“We need to push ourselves to think outside the box...shame on us if we don't consider it and go through the exercise”

And when Americans think big they think bigger than most. The NFL visits Britain a few times a year, the NBA were playing regular season games in Japan as far back as 1990 and Major League Baseball has played in Sydney. Now admittedly, these are one or two games out of hundreds played each year. For golf, it would be its only event of the year being taken abroad and out of the hands of American TV.

Clearly it would be unmeasurably good for the game of golf itself to have a second major played out somewhere other than America. But the answer isn't as easy as this. More important is whether it is good for the PGA of America, its own professionals, the TV companies and sponsors.

Currently the sites and the television rights have been agreed and set until at Bethpage Black in 2019. But after this, there may be a real possibility of the PGA holidaying overseas once or twice in the following decade.

Trying to second guess this comment may well be dangerous. Firstly, the very fact that Bevacqua offered this information is revealing; either it is Bevacqua's idea or he strongly agrees with it. This may well have been on the table for a lot longer and by talking about it now it opens up the opportunity for the media and the public to court the idea too.

Secondly, a statement like this is akin to giving a dog a bone to play with. Just as Thorburn was quick to jump on it, so will the golfing heads of other countries, like South Africa, Japan, Korea, Malaysia or China. The PGA of America know they will now be persistently wooed on this in the next few years.

The PGA has already begun paving the way with sanctioned events such as the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and the Web.com Tour had visited Australia for the Moonah Classic as long ago as 2008. Much like the European Tour, heading East is becoming a viable economic decision, as well as a palatable one for the players too. Golf is a global game and its good to see the PGA looking to grow it there too.