KIAWAH ISLAND — Golfers love mulligans, a “do-over” for a misplayed shot.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort is happy to be getting a mulligan with the announcement Friday that the PGA Championship will return to the Ocean Course in August 2021, nine years after Rory McIlroy blew away the field to win his second major championship.
“We had a great experience in 2012 and we think our fans did, too. But we have to acknowledge we had some problems,” said Roger Warren, president of Kiawah Island Golf Resort and a past president of the PGA of America.
The issues that surfaced in 2012 were not with the Ocean Course and its playability. The big gripe was getting to and from the island, an hour’s drive from Charleston under the best of circumstances. Further adding to the travel woes was a Saturday afternoon rainstorm that had spectators scampering for shuttle buses back to the main parking area and an ensuing traffic jam.
During a news conference at the Ocean Course to announce the return, Warren said the resort was excited for the chance to hold the PGA Championship again.
Also speaking were S.C. Governor Nikki Haley, PGA of America president Derek Sprague, PGA of America chief championships officer Kerry Haigh, Kiawah Island Golf Resort chairman Bill Goodwin and Ocean Course architect Pete Dye.
Warren said that the parking issues didn’t meet the high standards set by the resort and the goal is to improve so that “in 2021 it doesn’t become an issue that people are talking about.”
“We need a better plan and we’re going to have a better plan,” Warren said.
Warren said part of the solution may be to relocate parking further from the island and get spectators on shuttles sooner to help ease traffic congestion on the two-lane roads leading to Kiawah. He said traffic on the island itself was not an issue.
Said Goodwin: “We will do all that we can to provide the best possible conditions for the world’s best players and make the experience memorable to golf fans of South Carolina and to thousands of visitors worldwide.”
Haigh, who has helped set up the Ocean Course for competitions dating back to the 1991 Ryder Cup, said he didn’t foresee any changes needed for the course and was excited the event was returning.
“I think it’s a great, fair test of golf for the best players in the world who were here in 2012 and will be back in 2021,” Haigh said. “The golf course is the main reason we are here. Pete Dye has done a lot of spectacular golf courses. This is without a doubt one of the very best he’s ever built. In 2012 it played beautifully.”
Haley said the state is working on road issues but needs to be sure things are done the right way.
“What makes this announcement so special is that we’re still floating from 2012. It was a fantastic tournament,” Haley said, noting that South Carolina received $75 million worth of advertising from the 2012 PGA Championship. The event also had an estimated economic impact of $193 million.
The Ocean Course is one of four sites to host each of the PGA of America’s major championships — the 1991 Ryder Cup, the 2005 PGA Professional National Championship, the 2007 Senior PGA Championship and the 2012 PGA Championship.
This year’s PGA Championship is Aug. 13-16 at Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, Wis.