PGA Championship: Baltusrol Preview Hole by Hole
The PGA Championship begins July 28 at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. The 121-year old private club is one of the most famous in the country, with a par 70 for Majors and a total length of 7,400 yards. Both the Lower and Upper Courses were designed by A.W. Tillinghast.
Baltusrol first hosted a Major with the 1903 US Open on the Old Course, which hosted it again in 1915. The Upper Course hosted it in 1936, with the Lower taking over duties in 1954, 1967, 1980, 1993, and 2005.
Here’s a hole-by-hole look at the Lower Course, host of the 2016 PGA Championship.
No. 1, 478 yards, Par 4 – If you’re a member, it’s a par-5, but this is the PGA, no easy holes! If you hit it too far left, say hello to Bambi since you’ll be in the deep forest; if you’re not dead center, you’re likely to wind up in one of five bunkers.
No. 2, 378 yards, Par 4 – When the second hole is 100 yards shorter than the first, but still a Par 4, that should tell you something’s up. That “something” is 12 bunkers, but players who can control either a long iron or a 3-wood can avoid the sand.
No. 3, 503 yards, Par 4 – Eleven years ago this was the second-hardest hole during the 2005 PGA Championship. If you don’t drive it straight on this dogleg left, go ahead and start scratching out that “5” on your scorecard. Comparable to the 10th at Augusta, there’s a thick rough and a lot of trees on both sides of the fairway. The green has a ridge that will feed balls to the right if you put it in the wrong place.
No. 4, 195 yards, Par 3 – The Famous Fourth, it has become the signature hole of the course. The story behind it, the golf equivalent of Babe Ruth’s “called shot” home run from the 1929 World Series, saw Robert Trent Jones, the English-American golf course architect, redesign the course in 1952 and be criticised for making No. 4 too difficult. Jones took said critics with him out on the course, promptly aced No. 4 and said to the rabble, “Gentlemen, as you can see, the hole is eminently fair.” The ‘S’ shaped curve of the lake along with three surrounding bunkers makes it a perilous thing.
No. 5, 442 yards, Par 4 – There are five fairway bunkers lurking, four of them to the left. Four more bunkers protect the green, which has a false front with a tough slope.
No. 6, 482 yards, Par 4 – With a long hill requiring a blind tee shot between two bunkers, the sixth favours longer hitters. Once clear, things are easier headed toward the green, although a mishit either way leads to a pair of bunkers down the sides.
No. 7, 501 yards, Par 4 – It was the toughest hole at the 2050 PGA Championship, with an average score of 4.38. It’s a dogleg right this time with four bunkers right around the landing area for most drives. The green is the largest on the course, and there are two bunkers at the short right side which will put a lot of players in the sand and make for some difficult escapes.
No. 8, 380 yards, Par 4 – Five bunkers dot a fairway leading to a small green that is surrounded by sand. Irons should rule the day for most players, but a pitching wedge is essential once you get closer.
No. 9, 210 yards, Par 3 – It’s the second-shortest hole on the course but has one of the tougher greens, with four big bunkers around the putting surface.
No. 10, 460 yards, Par 4 – If you make a 4 here, consider yourself lucky. There’s a creek in play that is an instant penalty shot if a ball winds up there. The green is narrow and surrounded by three bunkers, including one behind that will penalise the overzealous.
No. 11, 431 yards, par 4 – The sharpest dogleg on the course, it sends players sprawling to the left. For those who don’t make it around the corner, the green can’t be seen until you get up the hill. The putting surface is enormous but also has the most undulation of any spot on the course.
No. 12, 218 yards, par 3 – It will feature a different look than it did in 2005, with a collection area to the right side behind the green, which will likely be put into good use unfortunately. The front-side bunker makes it hard to see the putting surface, and the slope beyond it will make staying on the green tough.
No. 13, 451 yards, par 4 – A different Jones, Bobby, was said to have drawn inspiration for No. 13 at Augusta from this 13th. The hole itself is a dogleg right. If you stay straight, one of three bunkers will likely gobble up your shot. Straight is the path from there, as bunkers appear on both sides of the green.
No. 14, 430 yards, par 4 – It as the second-easiest hole at the 2005 tournament. The big hitters can make it over the first two left bunkers and the slight dogleg left. From there, a layup among the five bunkers that circle the green can lead to a great opportunity for a birdie.
No. 15, 453 yards, par 4 – It’s 25 yards longer than in 2005, and there’s a stream across the fairway which might some of the longer hitters think twice before blasting their moon shots. Six bunkers leading up the green make long blasts just as dangerous the second and third times around.
No. 16, 230 yards, par 3 – Usually a tournament definer on Sunday, the green for this hole has had recent facelifts with five big bunkers surrounding it. If you’re struggling to remember its significance, it was the site of Lee Jansen’s famous chip in in 1993 that gave him the title over Payne Stewart.
No. 17, 649 yards, par 5 – The monster’s been lurking right around the corner and here it finally is. It’s the third-longest hole on the PGA Tour this year, with a dogleg left and a fairway bisected by a collection of bunkers. John Daly is the only man to ever reach the green in two, which he did at the 1993 US Open.
No. 18, 554 yards, par 5 – After the 17th, this almost feels like a break in the action, and it was the easiest hole on the course 11 years ago. There’s water on the left and bunkers on the right, with bunkers all around the green. Phil Mickleson made a birdie here on Sunday in 2005 to deliver himself the championship.