PGA Championship returning to Ocean Course in 2021
May. 01, 2015
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — The PGA Championship is returning to the Ocean Course in 2021, three decades after the seaside layout made its debut at the 1991 Ryder Cup.
This will be the second time Pete Dye's course has hosted golf's final major — in 2012 Rory McIlroy won by eight shots.
The course was commissioned specifically for the Ryder Cup, and Bernhard Langer's missed par putt lifted the U.S. to victory in the "War at the Shore."
But the course's difficulty and harsh seaside winds kept major events away from the barrier island for the next few years. After some alterations by Dye through the years, the PGA of America brought its signature event to the Ocean Course three years ago.
"I think it's a great, fair test of golf for the best players in the world who were ere in 2012 and will be back in 2021," Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America's chief championship officer, said Friday.
While the golf was magnificent, the logistics of moving people on and off the seaside island near Charleston was not as smooth. Shuttles for fans and media from downtown Charleston took up to 90 minutes to make the 40-mile trip. A parking field turned to muck after a Saturday rainstorm, making it near impossible for people to leave the area in a timely fashion.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort President Roger Warren acknowledged the missteps and vowed to fix them in time for 2021.
Parking "didn't meet our standards," Warren said. "Our goal is to improve and fix that so it doesn't become the issue that people talk about."
Part of the solution, Warren said, will be relocating parking areas further from the island and using shuttles to bring more fans to the course, hopefully, easing congestion entering the island. He also wants people who bus in from Charleston to understand that it's not a quick trip.
"We need a better plan and we're going to have a better plan," he said.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, sitting alongside Warren, said she has spoken with Kiawah Island leaders about how state leaders can help.
The tournament, the governor said, generated $75 million in advertising for South Carolina. PGA of America President Derek Sprague added the 2012 tournament had an economic impact of $193 million on the state.
"South Carolinians love their golf," Haley said.
Haigh said organizers again planned to limit spectators, as they did in 2012, because of the location. Three years ago, access was limited to about 27,000 people each day, including competitors, support personnel, media and spectators. In 2009, Hazeltine National in Minnesota had about 44,000 people each round.
Dye said he expected no changes to the course in the next six years.
"It's OK with me," he said.
The Ocean Course has had an up-and-down history with professional golf. After the splashy, Ryder Cup debut, pros were deterred by the strong winds, fast greens and tricky layout. It served as the misty backdrop for "The Legend of Bagger Vance," the 2000 movie directed by Robert Redford.
The course hosted the Senior PGA Championship in 2007 before entertaining the world's best golfers five years later at the PGA.
McIlroy devoured the competition, finishing eight shots ahead of runner-up David Lynn to break Jack Nicklaus' mark for margin of victory at the PGA Championship.
Haigh said the feedback from pros was strong after 2012.
"Why would we not come back to this wonderful venue," he said.