Skip to main content

PGA Championship history: More than 100 years of golf

minute read

    For a few days in May, all eyes in the golfing world will be on Rochester, New York for the 2023 PGA Championship®. It's only the latest manifestation of the event's storied history, which stretches back more than a century. With this year's championship upon us, let's dive into PGA Championship history and share some of the highlights for golf lovers and newbies alike.

    What is the PGA Championship?

    PGA stands for the Professional Golfers Association, and this event marks their annual golf championship. Golf commentators and players alike consider the PGA Championship one of the four major annual U.S. golf events. Winning the PGA grants you a lifetime invitation to play the PGA Championship again at any point.

    The beginning of the PGA Championship

    The Professional Golfers Association of America was formed in 1916 at a Wykagyl Country Club Luncheon in New Rochelle, New York. Chroniclers of PGA Championship history now often refer to Wykagyl as the cradle of the PGA Championship, and it's noted in golf circles as an iconic course to this day. That's thanks to features such as the challenging 18th hole, which has come to be known as “cardiac hill."

    Although Wykagyl was the flagship course, the PGA Championship frequently changed venues over the years. As the PGA Championship gained popularity, it also evolved.

    The evolution of the PGA Championship

    From the format and the trophy to the location and even its tagline, the 2023 PGA Championship is different in many respects from tournaments of yesteryear.

    Changes in the PGA Championship format

    Initially, the PGA Championship ran as a match play event. That means the score tallied each hole. So, a player would win the hole by taking fewer strokes to get the ball in the hole than his opponent. Sometimes, this would end in a tie if both players used the same number of strokes. In match play, a player can only gain at most a single point for each hole. If they tie, each player receives half a point.

    If a match play game ends in a tie, players continue through the course until one player wins another hole to determine the winner. This sometimes has led to participants playing more than 200 holes per tournament. To avoid this from happening, the PGA of America changed the format to stroke play, which counts the overall strokes taken by each player rather than tallying the number of holes won.

    2023 PGA Championship location

    The 2023 PGA Championship brings the championship location full circle—back to New York state, where it all began. In the past 100 years, the annual PGA Championship has mostly stuck to the eastern side of the United States, with only 11 times out west. New York has hosted the PGA Championship more than any other state with 13 times, but Ohio places a close second with 11 times.

    The PGA Championship trophy

    The 2023 PGA Championship trophy, otherwise known as the Wanamaker Trophy, is a replica. The original dates back to the first PGA Championship in 1916. This forerunner now sits on display at the Home of the PGA of America in Frisco, Texas. The original trophy stands more than two feet tall and weighs about 27 pounds. When a player wins the 2023 PGA Championship, they receive a replica this size, but they won't get to keep it permanently. Each year the former winner brings back this replica and gets a smaller version they can keep.

    2023 PGA Championship

    This history leads directly to the 2023 PGA Championship, where you can see the modern-day version of this major sports event alongside golf lovers worldwide.

    To see it in person, set your travel plans for Oak Hill Country Club, East Course in Rochester, New York between May 18 and 21. For couch viewing instead, you have a few options:

    Stream Online:

    • PGA Championship will be its own channel, you do not need to tune into PGA TOUR Live on ESPN+
    • Dates and times on ESPN+
      • May 18: 7:00am - 1:00pm on ESPN+
      • May 19: 7:00am - 1:00pm on ESPN+
      • May 20: 8:00am - 10:00am on ESPN+
      • May 21: 8:00am - 10:00am on ESPN+


    • Dates and times
      • May 18: 1:00pm – 7:00pm on ESPN
      • May 19: 1:00pm – 7:00pm on ESPN
      • May 20: 10:00am - 1:00pm on ESPN | 1:00pm - 7:00pm on CBS
      • May 21: 10:00am - 1:00pm on ESPN | 1:00pm - 7:00pm on CBS

    If you do decide to make the trip and have a Chase Sapphire card, you may want to visit the Chase Sapphire lounge at the PGA Championship for a little extra hospitality.

    In summary

    With more than 100 years of history, the 2023 PGA Championship remains an iconic event on the golfing calendar. You can watch this major championship make history in May 2023 with a visit to Oak Hill Country Club or from the comfort of your couch. Either way, you'll have a chance to see the best golfers in the world fight for their place at the top.

    Chase Sapphire is an official partner of the PGA Championship.

    What to read next