The PGA of America announced yesterday that it will hold the 2019 PGA Championship and the 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black.
That is great news. More public courses for our championships is always a good thing. One of the special qualities of golf is that amateurs often can play the same venues as the pros. Try holding a pickup softball game at Yankee Stadium.
Still, I’m actually somewhat disappointed. While it is great that those events will be played on a public course, Bethpage has already been done. And perhaps overdone. Surely there are other great, unheralded public courses out there—ones that would shake up the golf world and keep fans talking for ages.
I’m of the opinion that every great national golf championship should regularly hold forth on public courses.
Credit goes to the USGA for scheduling Pinehurst and Pebble Beach (both public but expensive), Chambers Bay and Erin Hills in the near future. In my mind, EVERY US Open should be at a public access course. How can America’s national championship be held on courses that the average American can’t play? The era of golf as the preserve of private clubs is over. They are a dying breed, either opening to the general public or closing entirely. The future is a more democratic and egalitarian game.
I’d like to see the PGA of American make an effort to identify other great public access courses with the quality and capacity to host major championships. With their vast network of club pros, they should be able to identify these places and set in place plans for their appointment as Major Championship venues.
In 2012, the Harbor Shores club in Michigan hosted an apparently successful Senior PGA. How about elevating that course to PGA Championship status?