How course design could make things awkward at the PGA Championship


In the distance, Adri Arnaus waits on the 3rd hole for Lee Westwood to hit his approach on the 6th.

Sean Zac

TULSA, Okla. – Long days in the Oklahoma sun could seem very long this week at Southern Hills, for no other reason than the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th holes. The holes are not very long themselves, they are just at the top one another. Literally.

Normally fans at home watching on TV have a hard time understanding how the holes weave around each other, but there’s no other choice here in Tulsa. The Tetris golf course of how the 13th interacts with the 16th, or the 6th with the 7th, is an integral part of this PGA Championship. The tee shot from the 13th hole flies over the 12th green. The tee shot that trickles down the 6th green will suddenly end up on the 7th tee box. It might not seem like a big deal 51 weeks a year, but the little things have a bigger meaning during those major league weeks. With 30,000 fans surrounding them, getting those 156 golfers comfortably into the ropes and playing in less than five hours becomes a little daunting.

We will start with the 3rd hole, an inoffensive par-4 that forces golfers to cross the line of play downhill, par-3 6th. When Adri Arnaus made his way to this tee box on Monday, he caught the eye of Shane Lowry, who peeked in from the 6th tee. Arnaus waited a few minutes, as many pros will this week, as Lowry planted his stake in the ground and played his approach. Once Lowry’s ball returned to earth, Arnaus ran to hit his tee shot on 3, but by the time he was ready to chase it, it was time to wait again. Lee Westwood was now ready to play on 6. (If you squint hard enough in the photo at the top of this page, you’ll see Arnaus in the distance, stuck at the golf version of a stoplight.)

Why do golfers need to inject this level of patience into an already slow game? It’s an unwritten part of the PGA Tour code, where even the slightest sound can seem to snap a player out of their routine.

“You don’t want to think about the ball that, oh, is the ball going to land now…or now…or now,” Viktor Hovland said on Monday. “You kind of want to eliminate that and get ready for your shot.

“I’m sure the player on the tee would maybe communicate with a guy on the 6 tee to make sure he was off. But that makes things quite slow. So we’ll see how it goes.

Yes Vic. This makes it quite slow. Especially in a field of 156.

What Hovland has described so well is the idea of ​​players on the 7th tee waiting for balls to land from the 6th tee, on which players will have to alternate with competitors starting on 3, who will make sure to wait until that shots land on both green 2s and 5s. Still dizzy?

Tee shots from the 7th tee make it tricky to read the green on the 6th.

Sean Zac

This corner of the property is especially fun, if only for the fact that fans can drop into the Oklahoma sun and enjoy it from one spot. Three approaches and three tee shots without barely turning your chin. It’s when these fans get excited that things get real interesting. If Tiger Woods hits a tight on the 6th hole this week, anyone who lines up a putt on the 2nd green won’t hear it. They will feel it.

If that’s not enough, Mother Nature is also ready to do her part, with forecasts calling for gusts of 20-25mph throughout the early laps. If we know one thing is true in top-level professional golf, it’s that more wind = more reflection, more reflection = longer rounds, and longer rounds require lots of daylight! Those long days under the Oklahoma sun will be need be long days of Oklahoma sunshine.

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