Time for the PGA Championship, golf’s final major of the year! We’re moving up to the best state in the union, Wisconsin, to watch the best players in the world play at Whistling Straits. Is Jordan Spieth going to win again? Is Tiger going to make the cut? How will Rory do in his first tournament post leg injury? We don’t have the answers to those questions, but we do have some words to get you excited about championship golf! Keep reading.
About the Tournament
Back at the turn of the century, golf in America was really just starting to pick up. Now the PGA Pros back then, and for pretty much the next few decades weren’t pros in the way people think about professional golfers are today. There was no Tour, there weren’t even close to as many tournaments, and the pros were pros in the sense that their day job was to run and manage golf courses (usually private clubs since public courses weren’t really a thing yet). But those guys still liked to compete, and in 1916, the same year that the PGA of America was founded, they held the first PGA Championship.
The tournament started as a match play tournament, and only switched to stroke play in 1958 in order to cash in on the sweet, sweet tv money that was just starting to show up, and nobody wanted to watch two guys playing by themselves when they could have a whole slew of players in contention.
Typically, this tournament has the strongest field out of all the majors, and in reality, probably the best field of any tournament in the world. Besides the 20 PGA Club Pros that represent most of the bottom of the leaderboard, the qualification process comes from quality of play in tournament, not 36 hole qualifiers like the Opens. And that means we’re not giving spots to random amateurs or lower tier club pros who played really well for one day and take up spots. So even though this is generally considered the least desirable of all the majors to win, winners really are the ones who are playing the best at the time.
About the Course
The Straits course at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin has all that the PGA and TV stations could want: length, difficulty, scenic shots of a large body of water, and plenty of room for parking / corporate tents.
The Straits course is part of a really impressive grouping of four courses at the American Club. First course at Blackwolf Run was built back in 1988. From there, they added 9 holes in 1989, and another 9 in 1990 expand the number of holes to 36. Then in 1998, they started work on the two other courses at Whistling Straits, the Straits course and the Irish Course, which brought the total number of holes to 72 for the resort and turned it into quite the golf destination. Oh and all the courses were designed by Pete Dye, so the consistency across the courses is pretty cool.
Whistling Straits has also managed to woo the PGA enough to seem to be on the permanent schedule for tournaments run by them. It’s hosted the 2004, 2010, and now 2015 PGA Championships. It’s also slated to host the Ryder Cup in 2020 (also run by the PGA) and I’m sure it’ll be on the schedule every few years for the foreseeable future.
The American Club / Kohler courses aren’t the only really good courses in this area of Wisconsin. Erin Hills, host of the 2017 US Open is nearby, as well as The Bull at Pinehurst Farms, a Jack Nicklaus design that is routed through the nearby hills and rivers that’s really quite the course. That ends up being 6 championship golf courses in one area, and quite the draw for a trip to Wisconsin.
Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship in the dark at Valhalla, beating out the likes of Phil, Rickie, Stenson, and Furyk. Current golden boy Jordan Spieth missed the cut unceremoniously after a second round 77, tying with Tdubs for 117th place.
The last hole of the tournament had a little bit of drama, where after a rain delay earlier in the day, they decided to play the last hole in the semi darkness. Rory kicked it around for a while until he two putted for par and the 1 shot victory.
What to Watch For
Random Ass PGA Pros — Every year, the PGA Professional National Championship is played, and nobody really cares about the winner. Well, some people do, but the main goal of anyone playing in that is to finish inside the top 20, and gain entry to the PGA Championship. So this year, along with looking at the top of the leaderboard, check the bottom and see some of the names down there who qualified through the PNC. Not often, but every once in a while you get one of them making the cut, so hopefully we see that this year too.
Boats on the Water — With the course right next to Lake Michigan, that blimp up in the sky, Snoopy 23 or whatever, is going to love getting shots of boats sitting on the lake right before going to commercial.
Par 3s on the water — A favorite cliche of courses on large bodies of waters, get ready for all 4 par 3s with with water on one side of the hole. Makes for nice TV shots, but not so much for variety.
Semi dumb hole locations — Pete Dye loves the funky greens with little areas on greens where you can put a pin. Take for example, the 12th (a par 3 on the water, who knew!). Don’t know anyone who ever thought a green like that would be a good idea, but Mr. Dye seems to think they are.
Bunkers everywhere! — Y’all remember what happened last time with baby faced DJ not winning, and just so everyone knows, here’s the PGA’s stance about the issue:
Rory’s Ankle — Hey guise! Guise! Have you heard that Rory is back playing golf again?!?!? It is kind of funny how this whole Rory / Spieth thing played out. Here we have Rory, the first guy after Tiger who can just dominate, wins a bunch of tournaments, and then… Jordan Spieth came along and won a few times, Rory got injured and everyone forgets about him. All the media talks about is when, not even if, Jordan Spieth is going to overtake the #1 spot in the world. Come on guys, Rory’s still good, crippled or not.
“American Slam” — USA circlejerk time! With Spieth winning the first two majors, and ZJ winning the Open, we’re poised for the first American sweep of the majors for the first time since 1983. Pretty surprising that it never happened back when Tiger was Tiger considering he pretty much won two a year for a little. Guess the rest of the US players couldn’t quite pull off the wins back then (*cough* Phil *cough*)
Dave Pelz’s Long Putt — So the 18th green at the Straits course has, well, a unique green. And last time the PGA was here, or maybe the first in 2004, Dave Pelz was on the Golf Channel showing people how to hit a 200 foot putt and spoiler alert, he made it. Actual video of it is lost to internet, but we have a cut version here. Very impressive still.