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Could PGA Championship, Ryder Cup Have a Permanent Host? Should They?

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Taking my colleague Ben Alberstadt’s post in a different direction, let’s talk about another aspect of this post by Ted Bishop, former President of the PGA. In it, he is essentially lobbying for Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY, to become the annual host of the PGA Championship, as well as all Ryder Cup events played in the U.S..

Feel free to read Mr. Bishop’s post for detailed reasoning, but a brief summary is as follows:

  1. Valhalla is a massive facility that can easily accommodate throngs of fans, as well as corporate and merchandise tents and all the infrastructure associated with such things.
  2. The course also has an impressive resume of past champions and dramatic golf theater in its tournaments (I will resist latching on to the argument that Augusta National is “not as dramatic and challenging as Valhalla,” as that has already been debated).
  3. Valhalla is already owned by the PGA of America, who would love to enhance the value of its course.
  4. Louisville, KY, is adept at hosting major sporting events (i.e. the Kentucky Derby) and is a palatable destination for patrons and sponsors alike.
  5. With recent discussions about moving the PGA Championship to May, Louisville is about as far north as you could hold that tournament for agronomical reasons.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to some commentary. I would be remiss if I didn’t put forth the disclaimer that I have a unique history with Valhalla. I learned to play golf at their junior clinic in 1988, which was the year my dad joined the club. He is still a member there. I was raised in the Louisville metro area and currently only live about 1 hour east of the course. I know a lot of people at the course. I love Valhalla, plain and simple.

That being said, if I said I were wholeheartedly in favor of this change, I admit it would almost entirely be purely for selfish reasons. Obviously, I would love to have a major championship in my backyard every year. I thoroughly enjoy (and am in awe of) watching the best players in the world shred a golf course that I myself have played (and struggled mightily with) many times.

As a regular golf fan, there’s two sides to this. On one hand, it would be nice to have the familiarity that comes with having a tournament on the same course every year, à la The Masters. Golf fans wind up associating the course with the tournament and you build an emotional relationship with it over the years. Remember Louis Oosthuizen’s double eagle on No. 2 in the final round of The Masters in 2012? Remember Phil’s shot out of the pine straw on No. 13 in 2010? Who’s to say that couldn’t happen with Valhalla, even if it may not be on the same scale as Augusta National? After all, most will remember Tiger pointing his putt into the first playoff hole in 2000 and Azinger spraying champagne after ending the USA’s Ryder Cup drought in 2008.

On the other hand, when you make the decision to marry a tournament with a specific course, you obviously limit yourself in certain aspects. While Louisville is an easy drive from many populated areas such as Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Nashville, it’s not easy to bring your kids to the tournament if you live in Portland, for example, which one can argue makes it difficult to grow the game. The flipside to that, of course, is that you have the U.S. Open in June to rotate around the country and ensure a broader audience could be reached.

For now, I will have to agree with Mr. Nicklaus himself (also the course designer if you’re unaware) in saying it’s “an interesting concept.” What say you? Comment below.

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Peter Schmitt does not profess to be a PGA professional or to be certified at...well...anything much in golf. Just another lifelong golfer with a passion for the game trying to get better every day, the definition of which changes relatively frequently. Peter is a former Marine and a full-time mechanical engineer (outside of the golf industry). He lives in Lexington, KY with his wife and two young kids. Follow Peter on twitter and Instagram using the links below.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Scott

    Aug 7, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I would not propose one course but maybe PGA should only be held on the far west Midwest or West coast to get prime time viewing? That way it can get the feel of being held in one location, get prime time viewing, and ease up on the East Coast bias golf has. If it was held in prime time (on the East Coast) every year, it may start developing an stronger identity.

  2. Ronald Montesano

    Aug 7, 2017 at 6:06 am

    A) It’s impossible for major titles to carry the same aura;
    B) Attend a PGA and feel its vibe. Whoever “you” is will change her/his mind about it being weak or not at the same level;
    C) Exhibit A: Glen Abbey. Weak course that keeps great golfers from playing Canadian Open. Since PGA is a major, it would only be a few years before inevitable comparisons to TPC and Players Championship were made;
    D) They say “You can’t move the Masters” and “The US Open is the US Open for a reason.” USA have a stranglehold on major titles and perhaps its time to say “2018-US Open is a major. 2019-Canadian Open is a major. 2020-Australian Open is a major.” Rotating the national open status can’t be any more ludicrous than keeping the PGA or the Ryder Cup at one course;
    E) Exhibit B: Oak Hill. 36 holes-take that, Valhalla. East course being returned to its classic greatness. Do they know how to put on a tournament in Rochester? Huh-YUH!

    I could go through the alphabet, but you and I both know that the solution to this is to move majors and team events around as often as possible. Simply no defense in making golf even more exclusive, even if it is geographic.

    • Sam

      Aug 7, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      I agree with your conclusion, but I don’t agree with Glen Abbey, they get a good field for that tournament, and the main reason why it’s not better is that it’s after the British version of the US Open.

  3. Jacked_Loft

    Aug 6, 2017 at 11:54 am

    As the PGA is seen as the “weakest” major I believe that a fixed venue would reduce it further to being just another stop on the tour schedule. An earlier scheduling would effectively make the Open Championship the last major of the season, which would then be concluded in July. With only the FedEx playoffs left you would have created a situation where basically only limited field events are played after the Open. I don’t see this as positive for growth. Leave it when it’s scheduled but make a fixed 5 venue rota to increase the image and establish a “new”history for the event.

  4. Greg

    Aug 6, 2017 at 8:44 am

    The Ryder cup needs to move. That’s part of what makes it amazing. Every 4 years on our soil, different venues.

    Personally I think the PGA should have a set rota of 5 and never vary: Valhalla, Whistling Straights, Maybe Bethpage since they are camped there for a few years, somewhere south-central, somewhere west coast. This touches most of America when you can play there. Whistling Straights is another venue that has become well known with the PGA. For the southern central area, I would propose Southern Hills CC. I’m at a loss for where out west since the PGA really hasn’t been out there a ton.

    I think this gives them a nice consistent rota without throwing in other locations (like the USO and Open Champ), and allows you to build up familiarity with the courses without trying to copy the Masters/Players.

    My long standing on PGA has been they have to change the format somehow. That’s why it’s the weakest event, it feels like any other tournament. I think going stableford, setting up the course easy, and just having birdies and eagles galore and a low scoring (or in stableford’s case high scoring) affair. I want to see what happens when these guys have to keep firing from hole 1-72. Masters is about the history, USO is about being a grind, Open is about the weather, so make PGA about going low.

  5. NT

    Aug 6, 2017 at 4:38 am

    Move the PGA to other countries. Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe. Make it a global game.

  6. Chris

    Aug 6, 2017 at 1:04 am

    No way they should make either a one course event. That said, Valhalla is one of my favorite PGA venues and it definitely would be fine with me if the make it the events featured course and give it the tournament every 5 years. 18 there is one of the best finishing holes in Championship golf and that was no more apparent than in the McIlroy Mickelson controversial basically a foursome finish.

  7. Tommy

    Aug 6, 2017 at 12:26 am

    This is a great idea. Everything about the present PGA is lacking…a total letdown that nobody looks forward to. It doesn’t even feel like a Major anymore. If it doesn’t work a planned, who says you can’t change it back to how it was? It might take ten years to build some cred though so they’ll have to be patient. Bottom line is that it just can’t be any worse than it is now. Do it!

  8. Woody

    Aug 5, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Drop the PGA and add the Players..or move the PGA to
    A different time of year. I do look at the PGA as the easiest to win out of all 4. I think that’s why it isn’t as prestigious as the others.

  9. Joe

    Aug 5, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Trying to match the feel of The Masters is a fruitless endeavor. Which is why the US Open and (British) Open have a Rota system, making sure to include particular courses in a cycle and having St. Andrew’s every 5 years.

    If you love having Valhalla as a more official site of the PGA. Then do what the others do. Make it the official venue every 3 to 5 years, but keep rotating the courses.

    Ryder Cup, since it changes continents every 2 years, is just a no-brainer to not have it at the same place.

  10. Hawkeye77

    Aug 5, 2017 at 8:43 am

    No surprise Crawford supports this “piece”. Nothing solid about it, lol. Peter basically ducks the entire issue, and no mention of historical significance of past venues for either event. Bigger LOL, create an environment like The Masters? That’s just silliness, and again no comprehension of the history/background/elements that make The Masters what it is. Come on now.

    Take a stand and make some intelligent arguments. Former Marines (and respect X 1000) should take these issues head on!

    • Peter Schmitt

      Aug 5, 2017 at 11:04 am

      Thanks for the comment. I think it’s safe to say it would be a pretty much unanimous consensus among golf fans that the PGA Championship doesn’t carry the same anywhere near the aura or mystique of the other three majors. I can absolutely see why the PGA would like to give their major a shot in the arm. Would this work? Who knows. Ultimately, what I was aiming at is to (a) put my personal bias out there as a disclaimer, and (b) present both sides of the coin. I could envision a scenario where this works and you start to build some pageantry around the PGA. That’s not to say that it would rise to the level of the Master’s, but it could elevate the PGA to some extent (who knows to what extent that might be). I could also see a scenario where the PGA ties its own hands behind their back and doesn’t achieve much of anything. Either way, I do think it’s safe to say the PGA is turning their wheels about how to improve their major. It could be interesting to see how that develops.

    • Adam Crawford

      Aug 5, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      Wow, calling me out in your comment. Nice to meet you too, friend.

  11. Moose

    Aug 5, 2017 at 8:13 am

    I do not really think of the PGA as a major. No one grows up dreaming of winning the PGA.

  12. BBD

    Aug 5, 2017 at 2:49 am

    Dumbest idea ever. Playing on different courses is what makes both those events somewhat more interesting. It would get really old real quick that it’s always on the same course. And nobody wants to take away the glory from the Masters

  13. Adam crawford

    Aug 4, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    I think it could really do the PGA some good. It suffers from fatigue at the end of the season, especially when there are Ryder Cups looming. I don’t know that a permenant home would totally cure it, but over the course of a decade it could really help. I also think Valhalla would be a great venue. May is a beautiful time in Kentucky. The Ryder Cup? Not quite on board with that being in one spot in the states. Solid idea and solid piece, Peter!

    • Sam

      Aug 7, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Kentucky is not a good idea, they should keep it in August, but hold it out west every year somewhere in California

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Opinion & Analysis

15 hot takes from Greg Norman on our 19th Hole podcast

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Our Michael Williams spoke with the Great White Shark himself, Greg Norman, for GolfWRX’s 19th Hole podcast. Not surprisingly, the two-time major champion had no shortage of hot takes.

While you’ll want to check out the full ‘cast, here are 15 takes of varying degrees of hotness, from Norman’s feelings about bifurcation to whether he’d pose for ESPN’s Body Issue.

1) He wants bifurcation immediately, rolling back technology for the pros, rolling it forward for amateurs

“I would instigate a bifurcation of the rules. I would roll back the golf ball regulations to pre-1996. I would roll back the technology that’s in the golf equipment for the professionals. And I would open up the technology and give it to the masses because the pros who developed the maximum club head speed of 118, 120 are the ones who maximize what technology is in that piece of equipment. So the person who’s under 100 miles an hour does not hit the ball an extra 30, 35 yards at all. They may pick up a few yards but they don’t get the full benefit of that technology…I would definitely do that because I think we’ve gotta make the game more fun for the masses. “

2) He has no relationship with Tiger Woods and doesn’t plan to watch him play golf

“And this might sound kind of strange. What I’ll say is … I really, in all honesty, I really don’t care what Tiger does with golf. I think Tiger is, golf probably needs him to some degree but golf doesn’t need him, if you know what I mean, because there’s so many other incredibly talented great young players out there, probably a dozen of them, maybe even more, that are equal, if not way better than Tiger, and they can carry the baton of being the number one player in the world. So, I get a little bit perplexed about and disappointed about how some of these guys get pushed into the background by the attention Tiger gets. I hope he does well. If he doesn’t do well, it doesn’t bother me. If he does do well, it doesn’t bother me.”

3) He plays almost no golf these days

“I really don’t play a lot of golf. I played with my son in the father-son at the end of last year, had a blast with him. Played a little bit of golf preparing for that. But since then I have not touched a golf club.”

4) He doesn’t enjoy going to the range anymore

“To be honest with you I’m sick and tired of being on the driving range hitting thousands and thousands of golf balls. That bores me to death now. My body doesn’t like it to tell you the truth. Since I’ve stopped playing golf I wake up without any aches and pains and I can go to the gym on a regular basis without aches and pains. So my lifestyle is totally different now. My expectations, equally, is totally different.”

5) It took him a long time to get used to recreational golf

“But I’ve been in this mode now for quite a few years now so the first couple of years, yes. My body was not giving me what my brain was expecting. So you do have to make those mental adjustments. Look, there’s no difference than when you hit 40, you’re a good player or not a good player. Things start to perform differently. Your proprioception is different. Your body is different. I don’t care how good you are and how great physical shape you are. Your body after just pure wear and tear, it eventually does tend to break down a little bit. And when you’re under the heat of the battle and under the gun, when you have to execute the most precise shot, your body sometimes doesn’t deliver what you want.”

6) He’s a big Tom Brady fan

“I’m a big fan, big admirer of his. He gets out of it what he puts into it obviously…But he’s also a role model and a stimulator for his teammates. No question, when you go to play Brady and the Patriots, you’d better bring your A game because he’s already got his A game ready to go.”

7) He believes we’ll see 50-plus-year-old winners on Tour

“I said this categorically when Tom Watson nearly won at Turnberry in his 50s, when I nearly won at Royal Birkdale in my 50s….if you keep yourself physically in good shape, flexibility in good shape, as well as your swing playing, and your swing. Yeah, maybe the yips come in maybe they don’t, that depends on the individual, right? But at the end of the day, my simple answer is yes. I do believe that’s going to happen.”

8) The Shark logo has been vital to his post-golf success

“But I realized very early on in life too that every athlete, male or female, no matter what sports you play you’re a finite entity. You have a finite period of time to maximize your best performance for X number of years. And with golf, if you look at it historically, it’s almost like a 15 year cycle. I had my 15 year run. Every other player has really has had a 15 year run, plus or minus a few years.”

“So you know you have that definitive piece of time you got to work with and then what you do after that is understanding what you did in that time period. And then how do you take that and parlay it? I was lucky because I had a very recognizable logo. It wasn’t initials. It wasn’t anything like that. It was just a Great Shark logo. And that developed a lot of traction. So I learned marketing and branding very, very quickly and how advantageous it could be as you look into the future about building your businesses.”

9) He’s tried to turn on-course disappointments into positives

“We all … well I shouldn’t say we all. I should say the top players, the top sports men and women work to win. Right? And when we do win that’s what we expected ourselves to do because we push ourselves to that limit. But you look at all the great golfers of the past and especially Jack Nicklaus, it’s how you react to a loss is more important than how you react to a victory. And so, I learned that very, very early on. And I can’t control other people’s destiny. I can’t control what other people do on the golf course. So I can only do what I do. When I screw up, I use that as a very strong study point in understanding my weakness to make sure that I make a weakness a strength.”

10) Jordan Spieth is best suited to be the top player in the world

“I think that Jordan is probably the most balanced, with best equilibrium in the game. He’s probably, from what I’m seeing, completely in touch with the responsibilities of what the game of golf and the success in the game of golf is.”

11) His golf design is built on two pillars

“Two things: Begin with the end in mind and the least disturbance approach. I think we, the industry of golf course design industry, really did the game of golf a major disservice in the 80s and 90s when everybody was leveraged to the hilt, thought they had unlimited capital, and thought they could just go build these big golf courses with big amounts of money invested in with magnificent giant club houses which weren’t necessary. So, we were actually doing a total disservice to the industry because it was not sustainable.”

12) He’s still not happy about having essentially invented the WGC events and not getting credit

“I’ll always be a little bit salty about that because there’s a saying that I keep telling everybody, “slay the dreamer.” I came up with a pretty interesting concept where the players would be the part owners of their own tour or their own destiny and rewarded the riches if they performed on the highest level. And quite honestly, Michael, actually a friend of mine sent me an article, it was a column written, “Shark and Fox Plan to Take a Bite out of the PGA”. And this is written in 11/17/94 and I literally just got it last night. And I’m reading through this article and I’m going, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I was ahead of my time!” I really was ahead of my time.

So, it was very, very kind of like a reflective moment for me. I read it again this morning with a cup of coffee and I did sit back and, I’ll be brutally honest with you and your listeners, and did sit back and I did get a little bit angry because of the way I was portrayed, the way I was positioned.”

13) He was muzzled by the producer at Fox

“I’m not going to dig deep into this, I think there was just a disconnect between the producer and myself. I got on really well with the director and everybody else behind the scenes, some of my thought processes about what I wanted to talk about situations during the day, and it just didn’t pan out. And things that I wanted to say, somebody would be yelling in my ear, “Don’t say it, don’t say it!” So it became a very much a controlled environment where I really didn’t feel that comfortable.”

14) Preparation wasn’t the problem during his U.S. Open broadcast

“I was totally prepared so wherever this misleading information comes saying I wasn’t prepared, I still have copious notes and folders about my preparation with the golf course, with the players, with the set-up, with conditioning. I was totally prepared. So that’s an assumption that’s out there that is not true. So there’s a situation where you can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

15) He would do ESPN’s Body Issue

“Of course I’d do it. I think I like being fit. I think on my Instagram account I probably slipped a few images out there that created a bit of a stir…And I enjoy having myself feel good. And that’s not an egotistical thing, it’s just none of my, most of my life I’ve been very healthy fit guy and if somebody like ESPN wants to recognize that, yeah of course I would consider doing it.”

Don’t forget to listen to the full podcast here!

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TG2: “If you could only play one brand, what would it be?” (Part 2)

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“If you could only play one brand, what would it be?” Brian Knudson and Andrew Tursky debate their choices in part 2 of this podcast (click here in case you missed Part 1). Also, TG2 welcomes special guest and GolfWRX Forum Member Ed Settle to the show to discuss what clubs he has in the bag.

Listen to our podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Greg Norman on why he won’t watch Tiger Woods this week at the Genesis Open

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Greg Norman, Hall of Fame golfer and entrepreneur, tells us why he won’t watch the Genesis Open this week even if Tiger is in contention. He also discusses his ventures and adventures on and off the course, and shares the thing about the PGA Tour that still makes him angry.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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