CHARLOTTE -- For the first time since the modern major championships became entrenched more than 50 years ago, there will be a permanent change to their order, with the PGA Championship moving from its traditional August date to May.
PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua announced the long-discussed move Tuesday during a news conference at Quail Hollow, where the 99th PGA Championship begins Thursday.
As part of the change, the Players Championship -- the PGA Tour's flagship event played at tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida -- will move back to March from its May date that it has held for the last 11 years. The Players had been contested two weeks prior to the Masters for many years prior to moving in 2007.
"We are doing this primarily for three reasons," Bevacqua said. "It's in the best interest of the PGA Championship; we feel it's in the best interests of the players who play the PGA Tour and the PGA championships around the world; and maybe most importantly for our organization, it makes the most sense to our members."
The 2019 PGA, already scheduled for Bethpage Black on Long Island, will be the first played in May since 1949. It will also be the first time that the order of the Masters, U.S. Open, The Open and the PGA Championship will have been altered since 1971, when the PGA was played in February in order to avoid the Florida summer.
From 1953 through this year (except 1971), the PGA's dates fell in either July or August, with the Masters and U.S. Open being the first two majors.
"I want to stress that we expect these moves will help us to grow our fan base as we move forward with these changes, and we think that's very important and, as Pete said, in the best interests of this game," said Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour.
By moving the PGA out of August, the PGA Tour will be allowed to conclude its regular season earlier, likely by Labor Day.
How that affects the FedEx Cup playoff events as well as tournaments throughout the schedule is still be determined.
Something has to give with the World Golf Championships events, for example, that are played in March in order to accommodate the Players. And to finish the regular season by Labor Day -- roughly three weeks earlier -- some other tournaments will be impacted.
"There are a number of dominoes and there are a number of other decisions we need to make, and as you can imagine there's a fair amount of complexity with in that and we have a number of constituents to work with," Monahan said. "When we have more specifics, we'll come back and make those announcements. We are just not far enough along in our process to be able to say definitively where we are."
Bevacqua said the PGA would not be taking the Players date on Mother's Day weekend and would in most years be played one weekend prior to Memorial Day weekend. That means it will not be played in consecutive weeks with Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament, but could have an impact on the Byron Nelson and Colonial tournaments that are traditionally played in consecutive weeks.
That is also the time frame for the European Tour's flagship event, which is the BMW PGA Championship. The European Tour has already reacted by moving the tournament to September starting in 2019.
"Significant changes to the global golfing calendar have given us the opportunity to move the BMW PGA Championship to a more favorable date from 2019 onwards," said Keith Pelley, the CEO of the European Tour. "This is a new chapter for the event but we expect similar interest in autumn."
Perhaps the biggest risk for the PGA of America is agronomical concerns about golf courses hosting a major in May. Bethpage, Oak Hill and Trump Bedminister are just three Northeast courses already awarded the tournament that might struggle with a spring date.
Others already awarded are Harding Park (San Francisco), and Kiawah (South Carolina).
"We are very comfortable the May date works for all of those locations," Bevacqua said. "When you think about the major metropolitan New York area, we did a long analysis of the Bethpages and Baltusrols and other great home sites for the PGA Championship. We actually feel -- from our side, from those championships sites, the PGA professionals, the club, the superintendent -- they feel the conditioning of the golf courses are actually better in late May than in the August months.
"In terms of other areas of the country, we are taking nothing off the table at this time. Weather patterns change, grasses become more resilient and we'll continue to have great conversations with those clubs and courses that we have historically gone to in all other regions of the country."