Parts of Whistling Straits Too Severe

By Brian HewittAugust 9, 2004, 4:00 pm
It was two weeks before the PGA Championship would begin and Paul Azinger was animated. He stood straight up in his shoes and tilted his neck back, as if to look at a skyline.
Its like the first time you go to New York City, he said, eyes widening. Your first reaction is how did they build this?
Azinger was talking about Whistling Straits, Pete Dyes lakeside attraction near Sheboygan, Wisc., and the venue for this years fourth major that will commence, with an immense amount of attendant foofaraw Thursday morning by the bonnie banks of Lake Michigan.
Impressive, said Azinger, a former PGA champion. Very impressive. Azinger had stopped off at Whistling Straits before crossing the lake to play in the Buick Open. He said he had liked the course very much.
Many of the other players who had done the same thing had politely disagreed.
Having been to Whistling Straits several times myself, I had enjoyed the linksy feel of the place and the sense of immersion in golf that most of the holes provide. But I had a few problems with the design as well.
As David Feherty once told me, Every golf course is allowed to have at least one bad hole.
Azinger and I agreed that hole at Whistling Straits was the 490-yard 18th that will play longer than 500 yards if the PGA of America so chooses. I have yet to see the player whose eye fits the 18th at Whistling Straits.
I am also dubious about the playability of the ninth green complex. These guys are good. But this one is too severe.
And then theres the fifth hole, a 598-yard par 5 that seems to serve little purpose other than to turn Dyes routing back to the north. It is very much a target golf hole and out of place.
I agree with you on that one, Azinger said. I made double.
All of Dyes lakeside holes at Whistling Straits run north-south or south-north. I would love to have seen just one go west-east with the lake as a backdrop for the players approach.
All of that having been said, Whistling Straits is a surpassing achievement and a rarity. Its a golf course that doesnt need to be tricked up to challenge the worlds best players (its my fervent hope they will bring a Ryder Cup to this place some year). And its a golf course, with multiple and graduated tee boxes, that the average golfer can play as well.
The winning score will be a strict function of how hard and how often the wind blows. Architect Dye thinks the low number will be in the eight to 10 under range. Defending champion Shaun Micheel, who visited Whistling Straits in June, said Dye must have been having a senior moment when he made that prediction.
Other, more dire, predictions have pegged the winning number at eight to 10 over par. The weather charts try and comfort us by saying mid-August is the least windy time of the year near Sheboygan. None of the players are counting on that.
If they want to make fools of us, said rising young British pro Paul Casey, they will be able to do so at Whistling Straits.
The sanest comment I have heard to date about this weeks PGA Championship is this: The winner may or may not be the best player in the field but he will be the most patient.
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

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    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

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    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

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    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

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    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

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    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

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    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.