Southern Hills Country Club and the city of Tulsa have been too long without major golf.
Finally, that will change.
The PGA of America announced on Tuesday that it would be bringing two championships back to Tulsa — the 2021 Senior PGA Championship and a PGA Championship to be named later, probably 2027 or 2028, but definitely after 2023 and before 2030 — and, well, that’s all good.
Southern Hills has long wanted the big one: another U.S. Open. Nothing wrong with wanting to host golf’s national championship.
The USGA, however, has all but priced Tulsa out of the rotation. The U.S. Open now goes to bigger cities, larger markets.
There’s only so many corporate dollars to be had in a community this size. For as many corporate tents and chalets as you’ll see on the grounds for the PGA Championship at Southern Hills 10 years down the road, there will be 10 times that many or more for U.S. Opens at Oakmont, near Pittsburgh, in 2025, and at Shinnecock Hills, on Long Island, N.Y., in 2026.
That’s not a PGA vs. U.S. Open comparison. That’s a Tulsa vs. Pittsburgh or Tulsa vs. New York comparison.
Southern Hills is one of the best and most challenging golf courses in the world, but why would the U.S. Open bring its championship to Tulsa when it can earn 10 times more in a bigger market?
Future U.S. Opens are set through 2026 (that’s 25 years and counting without coming to Southern Hills) at places like Bethpage (New York), Pebble Beach (Central California), Winged Foot (New York), Torrey Pines (San Diego), Country Club at Brookline (Boston), Los Angeles Country Club, Pinehurst (Raleigh/Charlotte, N.C.), Oakmont and Shinnecock Hills.
Since Retief Goosen won at Southern Hills in 2001, U.S. Opens have been staged at Bethpage (twice), Olympia Fields (Chicago), Shinnecock Hills, Pinehurst (twice), Winged Foot (New York), Oakmont (twice), Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach, Congressional (Washington, D.C.), Olympic Club (San Francisco), Merion (Philadelphia) and Chambers Bay (Seattle).
This year’s event goes off at Erin Hills near Milwaukee — the smallest nearby metro area to host a U.S. Open since Tulsa (Milwaukee proper has about 600,000 people, Tulsa about 400,000).
That’s a little more than a trend. It would seem to be USGA policy.
So kudos to Southern Hills for staying patient, staying the course and laying up.
No disrespect to the PGA Championship. Golf has four majors, and that’s one of them. And Tulsa by then will have hosted five PGA Championships, as much as any course in America. Whenever it happens, it will be another jewel in the Southern Hills crown, and Tulsans should be proud.
But if Tulsa is ever going to host another U.S. Open, golf fans in the region (and, to a larger extent, those in charge of pursuing corporate sponsorships and similar large-scale participation), should prepare to treat the 20-whatever PGA Championship as something of a tryout, one last attempt to impress the U.S. Open muckety mucks.
Forget bringing in big bucks from Tulsa. It isn’t going to happen. Do your due diligence, of course, but whatever dollars are available in Tulsa will show up at 61st and Lewis when the tournament starts.
Mining other communities like Oklahoma City, Wichita, Springfield, and certainly the exploding gold fields of Northwest Arkansas, and maybe even north Texas, should be the new priority.
That way, when the PGA of America reports its annual championship income from Tulsa as relatively commensurate with other cities hosting other majors, the U.S. Open might see Southern Hills as a potential earning opportunity on par with some of the larger cities.
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.