The PGA Championship – The Forgotten Major?

Professional golf’s major championships are considered to be the pinnacle of achievements for those that play the game for a living. Most would consider winning any major a huge achievement. There are plenty of lists of greatness for those without a major featuring the likes of Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia.

With all of that said, the PGA Championship is still viewed by some as more of a magnified tour stop than a major championship – or at the very least, the “weakest link” in the fence that contains the Masters, the US Open and the Open Championship.


There are many potential reasons that this perception persists, one being the location (the PGA is the 3rd major in the US every year). Or maybe its legacy is dulled by the fact that the Players’ Championship and the WGC limited field events are so full of star power. Could it be the PGA professionals from around the country playing in the event give it more names that the average golf fan will not know? Maybe it’s timing, because it is the final major of the year and comes directly after the star-studded World Golf Championship just a week prior. When you look at the other three majors closer, they seem to dwarf the PGA.

The Masters – Golf’s spring time tradition like no other, held at a course that most consider the pinnacle of achievement. Ask just about any golfer about playing a course for the rest of their life and the answer is almost always Augusta National. The star of the show here is as much the golf course as it is the players trying to take home the famed green jacket. Previous winners all get invited back to a dinner where the meal is hand selected by the current champion. It has the inner workings of a secret club that gives the public a single glimpse into that life once a year and that glimpse kicks off golf season for many around the country.

The US Open – Often titled the toughest test in golf and held on some of the most famous courses in the country, the USGA traditionally sets the course incredibly difficult and par is viewed as a great score. In 2012, the winner of the US Open was 1 over par and that is not as uncommon as it sounds. The rough becomes more penal, the greens are like glass and the fairways become narrower than ever. The 2nd major of the year is as tough mentally as it is physically and the champion survives a test of epic proportions.

The Open Championship (The British Open) – The oldest of the four major championships and it’s played in the area known as the home of golf. The traditional links courses hold a mystique that many associate with the roots of the game. Normally the weather will play as large a role in deciding the champion as the course, as heavy winds and rain have been known to wipe out almost an entire field. Due to the weather and style of course, many times champions will have to work their way through the gauntlet of challenges with imagination rather than a course that sits in front of you.

That leads us to the PGA Championship. Though there is a certain level of history and the famous Wanamaker trophy that is given to the winner, there seems to be a lack of buzz heading in each year and a lack of drama heading out. While the last four champions are a who’s who of young superstars (Dufner, McIlroy, Bradley and Kaymer), the electricity that surrounds the other three majors is lacking each year at this time.

That leads to some questions. Do you view the PGA Championship as a lesser tournament, rather than an equal to the other major championships? What would you do to change the landscape and vault it to new levels? Could having the 4th major outside of the US make it more valuable or attractive? There are no right or wrong answers, but we want to hear from you. Join us in the THP Forum as the debate goes on about the PGA Championship’s place among the other majors.

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  • Interesting article, never really thought much about this topic. For whatever the reason it just lacks the allure that these other events carry. And honestly it seems like the gap between this one and whatever you deem 3rd best is pretty large.

    Not sure having it outside of the US does much for it honestly, but it just may always been a glorified tour stop for better or worse.

  • I can’t put a finger on why, but the PGA doesn’t have the same level of meaning to me as the other 3 majors. Perhaps its the 20 PGA course pros in the field. Perhaps its timing. Perhaps its venues. Football is around the corner and I have an eye turned towards camps.

  • This was a good read, while it’s still a major it’s not one of those that I look forward to as much as I do the others.

    I guess the “biggest” thing about is it that it simply counts towards the “majors” when looking at Jack’s record, etc.

  • I think they need to make it play tougher, it seems to have the top names in golf but to me just seems to play like any other tournament throughout the year.

  • Nice write up Josh. I really enjoyed how you put a little perspective with a synopsis of each of the majors and you nailed them all right on the head!! To me, the PGA Championship is like the red headed step child. It’s there, it’s part of the family, but don’t pay it too much attention. The path to the FedEx cup gets more coverage and I would bet the ratings for the final tournament in the FedEx Cup by Coca-Cola will get better ratings and more hype building the event up. And then add into it the factor for every other year when the Ryder Cup is in play, the PGA Championship just doesn’t get much love.

  • I look at the PGA as a lesser major for sure. In fact, I hold the Players Championship in higher regard.

    I think they should play with the yardage a bit. Give it a reputation for being either ridiculously short or preposterously long. Alternate between short and long each year if you must.

  • I like the PGA Championship and I think it stands up to the other majors. If the experts said they liked the event people would follow suit. The event carries a strong field of Class A touring and teaching pros. It’s played on touch tracks every year and requires the same pin point accuracy that the US Open and Masters require. The Open championship is a great event but can be a it tame. I’m looking forward to seeing what this week offers.

  • I think it is just in a rough space in the sports calendar.Vacations are about over. Back to school time. NFL kicks back in. It is a second team player during Ryder Cup years. Courses are often a bit baked from the summer versus Augusta National and or US Open venues.
    Just hard to muster up that big time feeling.

  • Like the author noted, the PGA is the only Major without an identity. Masters is at Augusta and the first Major of the year; US Open courses are always set up rediculously tough, the Open Championship is the only major played on a traditional links course where weather (almost) always plays a factor, which is fun to watch. It’s also the oldest and arugably the most pestigious the world-over. The PGA has nothing to distinguish itself other than its cool, massive trophy. I, like a few other commenters, view this as a glorified tour stop as well. The timing really doesn’t help either… it’s right after a WGC event and is smack in the middle of August; America’s prime vacation time. This is the Major I’m most likley to miss b/c of other, pre-set plans on the calendar. Oh well… still good golf at well-known courses. It’s this reason that I think judging a player soley by his Major record is silly… I think the Players, the Fedex Cup and a few of the WGC events are as tough or tougher to win than the PGA (and maybe even some of the other “Majors”).

  • While it isn’t my favorite, to me all of them count as Majors so they are basically the same.

    Having it outside the US every other year might be a cool change.

  • I was just talking about this with my buddy during our round today. I mentioned that I think the Players is more intriguing, and he mentioned that he agreed, mainly because it’s at the same course. This is also the reason I think the Masters is the most celebrated major: we have fallen in love with the golf course that we see every year, rather than every 10 years.

    As far as the problem with the PGA, I would say it’s because it doesn’t really have an identity, or something that sets it apart. For the Masters, it’s the beauty of Augusta. For the US Open, it’s the ridiculously tough setup. For the Open Championship, it’s links style and the weather. Then there’s the PGA. What short sentence can you use to define it? It has no identity, and that’s the problem. There’s no brand.

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