In a joint announcement Aug. 8 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, the PGA of America and the PGA TOUR confirmed that starting in 2019, THE PLAYERS Championship will be moved to March and the PGA Championship will be held in May.
“In weighing the complex evolution of the golf calendar, the PGA of America’s key objectives were to promote the best interests of our signature spectator championship, do what is best for the game and its great players, and find the most advantageous platform to fulfill our mission of serving our nearly 29,000 PGA professionals and growing the game,” said PGA of America Chief Executive Officer Pete Bevacqua. “Our analysis began in 2013 and included an extensive list of factors, including having to shift the date every four years to accommodate the Olympic Games. In the end, we determined that playing the PGA Championship the week prior to Memorial Day in May, making it the second major championship of the golf calendar, will achieve those three objectives.”
TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach has been home to the THE PLAYERS Championship since 1982. The event has been held in May since 2007, but prior to that year, it was held in March. PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, who joined Bevacua in the announcement, assured that THE PLAYERS would continue to thrive, regardless of the schedule change.
“THE PLAYERS Championship has grown in stature since we moved to May in 2007 and, regardless of the date, is clearly one of the premier events in all of golf—the best players in the world, a premier venue in THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, an unmatched fan experience and a significant charitable component that benefits the Jacksonville-area community,” Monahan said. “THE PLAYERS moving to March in 2019 will enhance an already strong Florida portion of our calendar and play a significant role in an overall schedule.”
Following the announcement, THE PLAYERS Executive Director Jared Rice held his own press conference at TPC Sawgrass to further address the impacts of the coming change on the tournament itself.
“We’ve already begun to think through how this affects our business—everything from fan experience to hospitality, and hosting structures…and certainly volunteers,” Rice said. “We couldn’t deliver this tournament to fans and our players without the nearly 2,000 volunteers that we have. We’ve already communicated the date change to them, and the response has been as positive as you hear from the commissioner and among our stakeholders.”
Although exact dates for the 2019 schedule have yet to be announced, Rice said that he believed having THE PLAYERS in March would help with marketing the tournament.
"When you look at the lead in at the beginning of the year into March, that is going to be a great platform for the tournament promotionally,” he said. “We have started to communicate with partners, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are very excited about that."
In terms of the tournament’s charitable involvement, Rice said that would not be affected by the change of schedule.
“While there’s a change in date, there’s certainly not a change in philosophy about impacting and making large contributions to impact charities locally,” he said. “That does not change, that’s part of our initiative.”
Although the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is also scheduled to come to Jacksonville in March of 2019, Rice said he was confident that it would not adversely impact THE PLAYERS.
“THE PLAYERS Championship is the largest global event of this community,” he said. “We’ve talked about it before – the amount of attendees coming from outside the five-county area, the amount of coverage that comes from across the globe; that is not going to change. Once we do have that detail from the commissioner of the PGA TOUR about what those dates are…we’re going to immediately get with all the civic leadership and community leadership and figure out ways that we can continue to elevate Jacksonville and attract a national and international audience.”