The Background

As we all know, and keep being reminded of, the PGA Championship will be played in May from 2019. However, it took place much earlier in the 1971 calendar and became the only one ever to be held in the month of February.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan gave the move the go ahead after hearing of the forecasted conditions in Florida at PGA National for the summer.

The 1971 PGA was played from February 25-28 at what was then PGA National – now Ballen Isles Country Club – and is just east of the current PGA National which hosts the Honda Classic.

The Scene

Jack Nicklaus romped to a two-shot wire-to-wire victory ahead of reigning Masters champion Billy Casper.

Nicklaus took home $40,000 out of the $200,000 purse and with it became the first player to complete two modern-day career Grand Slams. He completed a third in 1978.

He later said: “The 1971 PGA Championship was uniquely special.”

“I got to compete in a major on a course virtually in my backyard; it was the last time the PGA Championship was held in February, rather than in August; and, most importantly, the victory came on February 28, my wife Barbara’s birthday.

“Without her, I would have never been the golfer I was fortunate to become.”

The Legacy

What else is there to say about Nicklaus? No-one has surpassed his 18 major titles, while only Sam Snead and Tiger Woods have won more PGA Tour events.

Nicklaus’ is a true legend of the sport and will be forever remembered as one of the best to ever swing a club, if not the best.

The Golden Bear was also lauded for his fantastic sportmanship and this was recognised in 2014 when he was given the Congressional Golf Medal by the United States House of Representatives “in recognition of his service to the nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship”.