All sports have their obvious points of ascension, the place that you reach the pinnacle and etch your place into the history of the respective sport that you are playing. Football has the Super Bowl, Baseball has the World Series, and Golf has the series of four majors that will determine who is the crème of the crop, the best of the best. You don’t have to have any complicated formulas, ridiculous statistical booklets or self-important critics telling you who is the best and why, it is quite simply the person that emerges at the top of each of these four contests. Win at the PGA Championship and you have etched your name into the history of golf as one of the best to swing a club.
While other tournaments have history or a specific course of play that define them as a tournament, the PGA Championship is defined by the fact that it was designed and managed by the largest golfing organization in the world. The first PGA Championship tournament was played in Bronxville, New York at the Siwanoy Country Club in 1916 with an initial purse of $2,580 put together by local merchants. Though his titles weren’t in consecutive years, Jim Barnes of England won the first two PGA Championships in 1916 and 1919, with the other two years being canceled because of World War I.
The tournament was a match play tournament until 1958 when the format was changed to stroke play and the rest is proverbial history. Denny Schute won back-to-back PGA Championship tournaments in 1936 and 1937 and was not matched in that category until a little guy named Tiger Woods stepped up and won in both 1999 and 2000. The most important part of PGA Championship history is the fact that it has always been a tournament that has included the best of the best. It does not have the age of the British, the name of the US, or the tradition of the Masters, but it does have the elegance of power in the game itself.