First off, don’t pretend the PGA Championship doesn’t need saving. Because it does. I would say it’s not in the top four tournaments people look forward to watching each year – and there are persistent calls for it to have its major status handed to The Players.
So I’ve jotted down five things I think will save the PGA Championship and prevent us from years of major championships being won and lost on a par-3 island green…
1. Give it a new date
We’ll start with something that’s actually already been done. From next year, Glory’s Last Shot will become Glory’s, err, Second Shot as it takes up a new slot in May, giving the major season a focal point from April, at The Masters, and concluding at The Open in June.
But I would take it one step further and make it the first major of the year. Think how much more excited we would be if it ended our major drought.
Now, you aren’t going to move The Masters from April so I guess you move the PGA to March. Or February. It was played in February before, don’t you know?
2. Get it on the BBC
It doesn’t help when it gets tossed around the TV companies. Last year Sky lost the rights three weeks before the tournament, then the BBC stepped in – which upset a lot of people – and this year it’s not even on television, with online broadcaster Eleven Sports picking up the coverage.
What will normally be a subscription service, Eleven Sports will broadcast the PGA for free. Brilliant! Free to air golf! That’s just what we want! But can I watch it on my TV? Don’t be daft, you’ve all got laptops, haven’t you?
3. Revert to matchplay
One of the PGA Championship’s problems is that it doesn’t have its own identity, writes our regular columnist Colin Callander.
In his latest piece, Colin suggests the tournament reverts to its pre-1958 matchplay status. He goes on to suggest that to avoid losing the best players in the first round, which would make many switch off, we make the PGA 36 holes of strokeplay followed by two days of matchplay.
I’m all in on this idea.
4. Go global
Golf is much more a global game now than it ever has been – 22 of the European Tour’s 51 events this season are played in Europe – so why not take the PGA Championship around the world?
Take it to Asia, to Australia, to Scandinavia. Imagine how good that would be.
5. Make it an elite field
It’s wonderful that all these club pros can win prestigious events while simultaneously running pro shops or designing some of the best golf equipment in the world, or whatever it happens to be, but this is a major championship for goodness sake. I want to see the best in the world competing for one of golf’s biggest prizes – literally golf’s biggest prize in the case of the Wanamaker Trophy. There are 20 PGA club pros in the field this week. How many can you name that aren’t called Marty Jertson?
Also, the former champions love-in needs to stop. I get that golf enjoys saluting its former champions, and that’s wonderful. It works at The Masters and The Open, because the crowds there appreciate their former champions – you just have to look at the crowds that flooded to the 1st tee at Carnoustie to watch Sandy Lyle to appreciate this.
But does anyone really give a damn that Steve Elkington won the PGA in nineteen-ninety-whatever-it-was? Give them exemption for 10 years then let them bow out gracefully. It’s not like they don’t get to show up for a free dinner every year.
Make the field the top 100 in world rankings plus past champions from the previous decade that aren’t otherwise exempt.
Don’t @ me. Actually, do. It’s @AlexPerryNCG.
Anyway, some other bits and bobs from Bellerive…
Show us the money
This Eleven Sports malarkey isn’t turning out quite as well as we’d all hoped.
The website doesn’t even mention the PGA Championship. Oh, it’s .uk not .com we need. Well why didn’t you say?
Good grief, what is this? It looks like a GCSE art project.
And what’s that? You want my bank details to start a seven-day free trial? And if I don’t you’re going to charge me £5.99 a month to cancel it? And I bet you’ll make that a simple process, won’t you?
How many people will opt out when they see they want your bank details? My £5.99 a month would be on quite a few. If I didn’t have to do it because, well, it’s my job, I don’t think I would bother and instead rely on Twitter for updates and highlights. (Yes, I see the irony.)
The players are playing practice rounds in shorts! Look!
It’s an outrage! Except it isn’t, and I’ve already written about this at length before. Just let them play in shorts for crying out loud.
Just as long as their wearing proper golf shoes…
There’s only two Zach Johnsons!
It even fooled our equipment man James Savage…
— James Savage (@JamesSavageNCG) August 7, 2018
Still, recovered like a boss…
I was just checking you were all still awake ? pic.twitter.com/jA2FDAok2f
— James Savage (@JamesSavageNCG) August 7, 2018
And he even got a tweet from Johnson himself (Zach, that is, not Zach)…
— Zach Johnson (@ZachJohnsonPGA) August 7, 2018
That’s enough from me. Enjoy the PGA Championship – if you manage to watch it…