“It really tells a wonderful story:” Discovery World exhibit showcases the history of the PGA Tournament

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Now that the British Open is over, the focus becomes the PGA Championship. And that, in part, means Milwaukee. From technology to apparel, golf has evolved dramatically in its history. Now, you can interact with the history of the game in a unique environment.

"We're so excited to bring it to Discovery World here in Milwaukee. It showcases, really, the history of major championships through the PGA of America and really tells a wonderful story," Jason Mengel with PGA America said.

That story begins in 1916 with James Barnes' win over Jock Hutchison. Anyone can go back to that first PGA Championship just by walking through Discovery World on Milwaukee's lakefront.

"It does tell that story of history going back to Jim Barnes who won that inaugural PGA Championship all the way up to Jason Dufner, who's our current PGA Champion," Mengel said.

Through unique memorabilia from each championship, the history unfolds before you.

"That's the most interesting thing is seeing just the change in equipment that occurred," Mengel said.

That's why president and CEO of Discovery World, Joel Brennan, feels the exhibit is a perfect fit here.

"Whether it's innovation in golf clubs, whether it's innovation in technology, whether it's innovation in attire, we can showcase all of that here," Brennan said.

While the exhibit remembers the winners, it also looks at the evolution of the equipment and apparel used and worn by the players -- from the putter Barnes used in his 1916 championship to the one Keegan Bradley used when he won in 2011. It's something that grabs Mengel of the PGA of America.

"That's the most interesting thing is seeing just the change in equipment that occurred, using those two pieces," Mengel said.

"We're able to show, in the course of this exhibit, how innovation has had a really big impact on golf over the last 100 years," Brennan said.

You have to go back 81 years and a few miles west of Discovery World to see where Wisconsin's impact on golf's majors began.

"I feel when you drive over here to Blue Mound, it's like a time warp. You're going back in time to the mid part of the previous century," Bob Bonner said.

In 1933, Gene Sarazen dominated the field in the PGA Championship at Blue Mound Country Club in Wauwatosa.

Bonner is the club's historian.

"He took on one player at a time over five days and won each of his matches. And the last match was a Par 5, last hole was a Par 5," Bonner said.

The hole was Number 14 on the course that was only seven years old at the time.

"His opponent hit the green in 2 and 2 -- putted for a birdie. And Gene chipped on and made the putt for his birdie to tie and then he was 5 and 4. So it was a pretty exciting finish," Bonner said.

81 years later, a stone with a plaque of the squire's championship is at the hole where he won the tournament. Inside the clubhouse, his accomplishments are also commemorated in an oil painting.

"To have him come here to our club and play here and win it, it was just spectacular. And it's something we're very proud of," Bonner said.

Sarazen's 1933 win is also immortalized in the exhibit at Discovery World.

"We've got a neat display case full of memorabilia from him," Mengel said.

However, it took 71 years before the PGA Championship returned to Wisconsin. Vijay Singh was the winner of the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Six years later, Martin Kaymer would win the tournament there as well.

Those events have helped Wisconsin become a very popular place for championship golf in this century.

"You look at the next five years, obviously we've got the PGA Championship coming in 2015, the U.S. Open a bit down the road in 2017 but then the Ryder Cup here in 2020 and that five-year run of events is unprecedented," Mengel said.

The exhibit will evolve as well, allowing people to swing a club, design a club or even apparel.

The exhibit will be at Discovery World into 2015.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the PGA Championship exhibit at the Discovery World Museum.