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Is the PGA Championship Better in May?

That loooooong gap between the year's final major and the Masters has Morning Read contributors John Hawkins and Mike Purkey wondering if they miss the PGA Championship in August.
Hawk and Purk Podcast

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the Hawk & Purk podcast, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.

Do you miss having the PGA Championship occur in August, or is May the better spot?

Hawk's Take: It’s a bummer to see the year’s final major played in July. That 8½-month wait until the Masters can be excruciating, but there’s a good reason the PGA was moved to spring, and the current schedule configuration is a better way to do things. As misguided and unmemorable as the FedEx Cup playoffs are, the PGA Tour’s pet postseason series never had a chance of catching the public’s fancy when it was contested in September. It may never become the can’t-miss competitive spectacle the Tour dearly envisions, but it was little more than an afterthought when competing for viewers with the NFL and college football.

Moving the playoffs up a month was made easy by the PGA of America, which was willing to accommodate Camp Ponte Vedra’s desire to open up August and give the game’s largest money grab some space to grow. Besides, the PGA Championship hasn’t exactly suffered in its new dates. Phil Mickelson’s historic triumph at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course amounted to a sonic boom for the tournament many consider the least important of the majors.

It can be hard for golf fans to wrap their arms around a change that snarls at tradition and almost feels ill-advised, but it’s not as if the PGA was gaining ground on the other three Big Ones when played in the heart of thunderstorm season. May is a very good idea. It just might take a while for some people to realize it.

Purk’s Take: How much can happen in 8½ months? Two semesters of college. A pregnancy nearly comes to term. A full baseball season. Football, too. You can write a book or train for a marathon in that time.

But the longest 8½ months in sports is the eternity we are forced to endure from the final major championship of the year to the next one. These days, major season is over before July ends. Yes, it’s easy and neat to have the Masters in April, the Players in May, the U.S. Open in June and the British Open in July. But that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

The PGA Tour wants to end its “season” before college football begins in earnest. There are three reasons for this convoluted, compressed schedule: TV, TV and TV. The rates networks charge advertisers are directly linked to the number of viewers, in most cases. And golf suffers when it has to compete with college football. If the FedEx Cup playoffs are so important, why did the Tour reduce the number of playoff events prior to the Tour Championship to two instead of three?

But let’s face cold reality: the networks are never going to reach max viewership if Tiger Woods isn’t playing. So, why not give the base of enthusiastic golf viewers more significant golf into the fall? That starts with the PGA Championship in August – where it naturally belongs.