Royal Portrush is an amazing place. It's awe-inspiring eye candy and the purest kind of golf. The Dunluce links deserve to host another major championship, just not the PGA Championship.
Speaking on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" on Thursday, PGA of America president Ted Bishop suggested Portrush would make an outstanding site for a potential foray into contesting the PGA Championship on foreign soil.
“Royal Portrush would be a great first international major,” he said. “I think given the powerful effect that Irish golfers have on the professional game today, that might be a good place to start.”
This isn't some kind of bluff to ruffle the feathers of the R&A, either, according to the Guardian.
"I have spoken to Ted Bishop and spoken to Pete Bevacqua (PGA of America CEO) about this," McIlroy said. "They approached me about it a few months ago. I would be all for it. They said it is obviously quite a long way down the road, maybe 10 years or so. But I would love to be able to play a major championship at home. That would be nice."
While there's little doubt -- despite what Peter Dawson might suggest -- that Royal Portrush would make a thrilling major championship venue, taking the PGA Championship there would be missing the point.
Though it's been 62 years since Royal Portrush hosted its one and only Open Championship, it's a part of Great Britain, which already has a major championship. What good would come from moving a major championship from inside the confines of a country that hosts three majors each year to the country that hosts the other?
Conceptually, taking the PGA Championship abroad means two things: the ability to proselytize about the game of golf in other parts of the world and the chance to reap major profits in untapped markets. Neither of those goals would be accomplished by going to Northern Ireland, a small nation who boasts more major champions (3) than 190 nations on the planet combined.
A Twitter follower asked me the other day where I'd take the PGA Championship if I could. Harkening to a column I already wrote on the subject, I replied with Royal Melbourne. But that wouldn't make a whole lot of sense either. Yeah, Australia has never hosted a major championship, and it's about as far away as one can get from the U's, S and K, but Australia also has a very rich golf history.
Why not bring the PGA Championship to a corner of the earth where it's hard to find golf, much less championship golf?
Here's a suggestion: The PGA Championship should go abroad in the same way that golf is returning to the Olympics.
The PGA of America should announce well in advance that it's going to go abroad in certain years. They can pick the country, but don't turn it into a transparent money grab, as the European Tour does when it bids out for European Ryder Cup sites. Select a country where golf needs to grow, then turn to the greatest golf architects of our time and ask them to submit designs for a course that will be constructed specifically for the PGA Championship. Like with the Olympics, the course will be built, a test event held and then the major is played. After the Wanamaker is awarded and everyone has left, that golf course remains hopefully as a place where aspiring golfers -- young and old -- can experience the game.
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