Four Days of PGA (copy)

Rory McIlroy hits out of a bunker at the 17th hole during the first round of the 2012 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island. He went on to win. File/Staff

The 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course will be played in the spring rather than the summer under a scheduling shift announced Tuesday. 

The competition, one of professional golf's four annual "majors," will be moved to the weekend before Memorial Day in May from mid-August. The switch takes affect in 2019, when it will be held at Bethpage Black in New York.

The announcement coincides with the week of this year's tournament, which begins Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.

"In weighing the complex evolution of the golf calendar, the PGA of America's key objectives were to promote the best interests of our signature spectator championship, do what is best for the game and its great players, and find the most advantageous platform to fulfill our mission of serving our nearly 29,000 members and growing the game," CEO Pete Bevacqua said in a statement.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which was the site of the 2012 PGA, said it "welcomes and supports" the scheduling change. 

“Moving the PGA Championship from August to May will enhance the overall experience, both for the competitors and the many fans we will welcome to the island in 2021,” said Roger Warren, the resort's president. “The island is delightful to visit during any season, but May is a particularly nice time in coastal South Carolina.”

The change has been in the works for about four years, an official told the Associated Press. The catalyst was golf's return to the Olympics in 2016, along with the PGA Tour's desire to wrap up its FedEx Cup series before football season begins.

The change also puts the PGA Championship in the middle of golf's major season — after the Masters in April and before the U.S. Open in June — instead of being stuck at the end in August, when courses typically are softer because of the summer heat and sports fans have an eye turned toward the gridiron.

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"I think everyone in U.S. golf and the tour is excited about this move," said Warren, who was president of the PGA of America from 2004 to 2006. 

The PGA Championship has been held in August since 1969 for all but two years. It was played in February in 1971 in South Florida, and last year it was moved to late July ahead of the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The PGA of America was interested in building continuity, and a switch to May could inject some fresh energy into what has been the last major of the year. The change also would allow organizers to take the event to golfing destinations considered too hot for August, such as Texas and parts of the Southeast. Temperatures during the chase for the Wanamaker Trophy on Kiawah five years ago were steamy.

The world-televised 2012 event at the famed Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course had an estimated economic impact of $193 million, according to the PGA and College of Charleston Office of Tourism Analysis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.