It appears Rochester golf fans won’t have to wait quite as long for major golf to return in 2023.
Assuming it returns at all.
According to the AP, the PGA of America is expected to announce Tuesday that the Championship will shift from August to May starting in 2019.
The move has been in the works for four years. It’s primarily due to a desire from golf’s governing bodies to avoid playing priority events during football season, but also because of golf’s inclusion in the Olympics.
A May Championship would be difficult to host in Rochester, though officials cited in the AP report are hopeful the weather will be good enough.
“I think we could do it weather wise,” Club President Timothy Thaney said in June. “The biggest obstacle is building the infrastructure. Trying to figure out how we would do that would be interesting.”
Thaney admitted it takes 60 or 90 days to erect all the corporate tents, the merchandise tents and all the other temporary structures that support a major golf tournament.
Work for the 2013 PGA at Oak Hill began in late May. If the tournament was held in May, the timeline for construction would need to start in February. Thaney estimates April 1st is the earliest realistic date building could commence.
The Senior PGA in 2019 requires only about 30 percent the infrastructure of a PGA Championship. The work there only needs to begin around April 15th.
Even if the small village that appears on site during a major can be assembled in time, May is certainly a less conducive weather month for hosting golf in Rochester than August.
“When you get up this far north, it’s probably going to be a challenge,” Thaney said. “And you want (the Championship) to be great.”
Thaney said, as of June, there have been no discussions about moving the PGA Championship to a different month. Currently, Oak Hill has a contract with the PGA of America to hold an event only in August of 2023.
The relationship between Oak HIll and the PGA of America has never been stronger. It’s a big reason why Thaney is confident any changes to the PGA Championship will still end well for Oak Hill.
“If we were a 2nd tier club and they weren’t interested in us and we were begging, (it might be different),” Thaney said. “The PGA has been a great partner and that’s why I think they’re going to treat us fairly.”
It also helps that PGA of America staff will be on course prepping for the 2019 Senior PGA Championship beginning in July.
“We’re going to talk to them real time, so I don’t think we’re going to get a surprise phone call late night with bad news,” Thaney said. “I think we’ll have time to see it coming and we’ll have time to react to it.”
The PGA of America is not the only governing body with skin in the schedule game for the PGA Championship.
It’s believed the PGA Tour is pushing the move to fit with it’s larger schedule plans.
Players on Tour recently polled voted in favor of moving the The Players Championship from May back to March.
If the PGA Championship filled the void in May, that would open up August to host the FedEx Cup Playoffs and have it completed before the NFL decimates golf ratings.
Those types of changes could throw the entire golf season into chaos. Would the courses that host current FedEx Cup playoff events be amenable to staging them a month earlier? What happens to events currently in late July and August like the Canadian Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Thaney did leave the door open to Oak Hill possibly becoming the host of a regular FedEx Cup playoff event if the PGA Championship was no longer an option.
The pieces, seemingly, are ready to begin moving.