The PGA Championship is generally played on a parkland course and there is no real rotation system in place to decide at which golf course in America it will be played. However, this year Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, Missouri has the honour of hosting.
What is a parkland golf course?
As golf courses progressed from the early 20th century and went more inland, these golf courses where called parkland golf courses because they had trees that looked like they came from country parks. The course also has lush rough, fairways and greens all manicured with plenty of water, be it natural or man-made.
The Bellerive CC course is some 7,547 yards long with a par of 71.
About the PGA Championship
This Major was established in 1916 when participating professional golfers played for US$500 (equivalent to about B383,500 today) prize money and a diamond-studded gold medal donated by Rodman Wanamaker.
Today, the winning golfer will receive a cheque for US$1.8mn (B59.94mn) and the Wanamaker Trophy.
Qualification to play in the PGA generally comes down to the top 100 players in the world with other exemptions making up a field of 156 players. The original format for the PGA Championship was match play, sometimes lasting seven days with over 200 holes having been played to decide the winner. However, in 1957 the format was changed to what is still the standard of the day; a four-day 72-stroke play event.
Who runs the PGA Championship?
The Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America) was founded in 1916 by Rodman Wanamaker. Today the PGA of America has 29,000 professional golf members.
The PGA of America’s mission statement is: “The PGA of America’s undertaking is to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf.”
As a crossover of the PGA Tour, established due to unrest of its tournament players in 1968 as to how the PGA Championship was run, the PGA of America stopped running tour events and the tournament players’ division took over professional events in America, which then become known as the ‘PGA Tour’, fully installed by 1975.
To this day having two separate bodies was seen as the right way to go, the PGA Tour has grown in stature and has become the best tour for professional golfers to play in the world with its lucrative first prize of a million dollars plus.
However, charity has a symbiotic relationship with the tour and to date the tour has given US$2.3 billion (B76.59bn), hence the event’s sponsor is very happy to be a part of the PGA Tour.
Even though the PGA of America kept their independence to take care of their own professional golf members, and the PGA Tour became established itself to take care of their tournament players members, the PGA of America still controls the PGA Championship.
What’s a golfer remembered for?
With all four golfing Majors now in play, what a professional golfer is going to be remembered for is how many Majors he has won.
To start the ball rolling you first need to win a Major. This in itself seems to create massive pressure on a professional golfer. There are players, now and in the past, who were good enough, so we thought, but have ended up with a tag around their neck – ‘best player never to have won a Major’.
Therefore, winning a Major gives you kudos in the game, your endorsements go up and can be worth around US$30mn plus (B999mn) for your first Major title.
Once you become a multiple-Major winner financially you are home and dry. If you want to be firmly established in the history books, winning all four majors is what you are after, showing that you can handle the pressure and that you can also win playing on different types of courses.
Winning all four in one year hasn’t been achieved as yet but the next best thing is to have won all four majors over your golfing career, this is called the ‘Grand Slam’.
Only five golfers have achieved this; Gene Sarazen (USA), Ben Hogan (USA), Gary Player (SA), Jack Nicklaus (USA), and Tiger Woods (USA), the latter two having won them three times over.
Incidentally, Gary Player completed his Grand Slam at Bellerive CC in 1965 winning the US Open here.
In this year’s PGA Championship at Bellerive, Jordan Spieth is the only player in the field that requires this Major to complete this monumental task of becoming a Grand Slam golfer.
We will watch with interest to see if he has a favourable outcome.
Next year the PGA Championship will be brought forward to May, thus all four majors will run over four consecutive months; Masters in April, PGA Championship in May, US Open in June and The Open in July.
Happy golfing to all!
Text by Martin Platts
Martin Platts (British) P.G.A., Director of the Golf Guru International Golf Academy, has been involved in competitive golf for 40 years, 30 as a professional. He has coached players of all levels from beginners to Ryder Cup tour professionals. Visit TheGolfGuru.com