Kiawah bringing back PGA in 2021

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland holds up the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on Sunday August 12, 2012. (Grace Beahm/postandcourier.com)

The PGA Championship will return to the Ocean Course in 2021, The Post and Courier has confirmed. Kiawah Island Golf Resort and the PGA of America are scheduled to make the announcement on Friday.

The Ocean Course hosted the PGA in 2012, when Rory McIlroy won the title.

The Pete Dye-designed course opened in 1991, when it served as the site of the Ryder Cup Matches, an entity run jointly by the PGA of America and the European PGA Tour.

It later hosted the 2005 PGA Club Professional Championship and the 2007 Senior PGA Championship.

The resort had made it known that it was interested in holding another PGA Championship, and its pitch to the PGA of America was successful. Gov. Nikki Haley is scheduled to attend Friday’s 10 a.m. announcement at the Ocean Course, along with Derek Sprague, president of the PGA of America.

“The decision now on whether or not the PGA of America will come back to the Ocean Course is ‘How well did it do?’ and I think by every measure you could apply to the (2012) PGA Championship it was successful,” Roger Warren, president of Kiawah Island Golf Resort and a former PGA of America president, said in September.

“The people who came enjoyed it; the people who watched on TV enjoyed it. The players, most importantly, by the comments they made about the golf course and the quality of the design and the quality of the conditions and the overall experience, were very positive.”

Kerry Haigh, chief championships officer for the PGA of America, would not confirm that the PGA of America was considering the Ocean Course for 2021, but said he hoped it would return to the Pete Dye-designed course.

“We were generally very pleased with many of the things that took place at the (2012) PGA Championship,” said Haigh, who also was with the PGA of America for the ’91 Ryder Cup. “With any venue, there are some things we would do collectively a little different. But we had a great championship on a great golf course.”

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, then 23 years old, shot 13-under-par 275 in winning the 2012 PGA Championship and said the Ocean Course was by far his favorite Pete Dye-designed course.

But there were criticisms of the Ocean Course, primarily accessibility. There are only two roads leading to the island and most spectators had to make an hour-plus journey from Charleston and then take shuttle buses from the off-island parking complex.

A Saturday rainstorm also further complicated the issue with a massive traffic jam ensuing as the 40,000 attending the event tried to depart at the same time. Warren said the parking area would be re-engineered to make getting in and out easier.

The 2012 tournament had an estimated economic impact of $193 million, including an estimated $75 million of media exposure, according to the PGA and College of Charleston Office of Tourism Analysis.

Direct visitor spending was estimated at $92 million. The tournament, and the greater Charleston area, were seen in 580 million households worldwide with 150 hours of televised coverage. Hotel occupancy statewide for August 2012 was 74.7 percent, up 7.4 percent, from the previous August with 25,600 more room nights. In Charleston County, hotel occupancy reached a high of 94.9 percent at an average daily rate of $170.86 over the tournament weekend. Wild Dunes Resort, 40 miles from the Ocean Course, reported a 60 percent increase in golf rounds compared to the same week a year earlier.