PGA Championship Preview: Part I

Whistling Straits Golf Club in Kohler, Wisconsin, hosts the PGA Championship for the third time in 11 years.

The Straits Course will host the vents, as it did in 2004 when Vijay Singh defeated Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard in a playoff and the 2010 PGA Championship, which saw Martin Kaymer defeat Bubba Watson in a playoff.

In an homage to the origins of golf, the Straits Course attempts to replicate the seaside links of the UK and Ireland with eight holes hugging a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan, the second-largest of North America’s Great Lakes. The course is home to a flock of Scottish Blackface sheep and has three stone bridges.

The course record of 64 was set by Liang Wen-Chong in the third round of the 2010 PGA Championship. The course is 7,201 yards long and is a par-72.

The weather forecast is looking a bit ominous for the tournament, with a 50% chance of rain on Friday and Sunday, and 40% on Saturday.

Otherwise, highs in the 80s and lows in the upper 60s, with a wind between 8-14 miles per hour are in store, according to The Weather Channel.

Here is the first half of our hole-by-hole preview of Whistling Straits, encompassing the front nine.


No.1: “Outward Bound” – Par 4, 408 yards.  A simple start to a lovely course. Stay in the middle and you’re good, as the left is plagued by bunkers and dunes, and the right could see you have to approach from the rough.

No. 2: “Cross Country” – Par 5, 593 yards. The second hole of the course is also the second-longest. Going left is preferable, otherwise the second shot might be done blindly. For the big muscle swingers, the green is reachable in two, but a deep bunker waits 35 yards in front for shots that come up short.

No. 3: “O’Man” – Par 3, 181 yards. From extreme length to extreme briefness, with Lake Michigan coming into play for the first time. Shots landing right will likely roll left. Miss the green right and enjoy the fish.

No. 4: “Glory” – Par 4, 489 yards. The whole hole feels like you’re viewing the world at a slant, and there’s a considerable drop off left towards bunkers, dunes, and the lake.

No. 5: Snake” – Par 5, 603 yards.  Water, water everywhere, and not just the lake! The longest hole on the course forces  a tough decision for the second shot, either going for the green which is shallow and has little room for error, or stay on the fairway for a better approach angle.

No. 6: “Gremlin’s Ear” – Par 4, 355 yards. With this weird of a name, you know it must be a doozy. It’s a short dogleg right that turns into a blind shot for players who start off too far right.

No. 7: “Shipwreck” – Par 3, 221 yards.  With waves from the lake and lots of sandy bunkers, you might feel like you’re all alone on a deserted island if things go poorly. The green is long left to right, but if you fire too far it’s the rocky rough and the lake for you.

No. 8: “On the Rocks” – Par 4, 507 yards. The landing area is blind for almost everyone if you don’t go left, which is a pretty good idea in general as the lake is now on the right. The green is deep and has sand dunes on the left.

No. 9: “Down and Dirty” – Par 4, 446 yards. After all those holes on the lake, a tree is the big barrier here, sitting about 100 yards out on the right side. The wind conditions make a big difference here, as do a series of sand bunkers, and a narrow creek.

Coming Wednesday, Part II of our preview breaking down the back nine.

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