Which public course deserves a PGA Tour event


Several factors are in play when considering a host site for the next PGA Tour venue – issues like


It bothers me that the Straits Course at Whistling Straits steals all the big-time golf events at the Kohler Resort, like last year's PGA Championship and the upcoming 2020 Ryder Cup.

A few miles down the road, the River Course at Blackwolf Run is too good not to have the game's best players take it on for all of us to watch.

I don't think everything Pete Dye builds is genius, and I think the Straits Course, while undoubtedly a remarkable vision from Herb Kohler and Dye, is over-built – who's to say it couldn't have been even better moving only half the dirt?

On the flip side, the River Course, set to host the U.S. Women's Open in 2012, is a more traditional parkland play that is probably my favorite Dye design. The River Course has railroad ties, big water hazards, tough green complexes and plenty of visuals that will scare the stuffing out of you from the tee. But it's still a delightful, scenic walk with better hole variety than the mostly grueling Straits.

It's as good of a risk-reward design as I've seen in the game. One shot after another will have the tour pros thinking, 'Do I gamble? Can I fade it around that tree? Can I carry that pond?'

There are some fabulous TV-friendly holes that would surely cause some players to find trouble and make big numbers. One of my favorite short par 4s anywhere in the world is No. 9, which can be driven if you play over the Sheboygan River and through a narrow chute between trees. That's not the only proposed gamble Dye presents that's not for the timid.

Additionally, the two Blackwolf Run courses have been under renovation the last couple years and will be fully back in play for the 2011 golf season. Knowing Kohler and Dye, it should be better – and tougher – than ever.

And surely, with the right deal, someone as golf-nuts as Kohler would be interested in sponsoring a regular PGA Tour event to show off even more of his resort than just the demonizing Straits during a major every few years.


While I'll concede that the River Course at Black Wolf Run compares favorably to its neighbor, the Straits Course at Whistling Straits, it doesn't keep pace with the Bayonet Course at Bayonet Blackhorse in Seaside, Calif., on Monterey Bay – especially after the course was renovated in 2008.

The Bayonet already has history on its side, having hosted professional events back in the 1950s and '60s. It was considered tough back then, and it's still a beast today. More recently, the course hosted a U.S. Open qualifier and stage II of PGA Tour Q school. It's a great shot-maker's course, even if it wasn't meant to be in the beginning.

This former military course at the old Fort Ord Army base, which opened in 1954, was designed by Army Gen. Robert McClure, a left-handed player who laid out many of the holes to accommodate his right-to-left ball flight. As it turned out, Nos. 11-15 are some of the best sharp dogleg left holes in golf. Coupled with a great piece of land on Monterey Bay and a $13 million renovation by architect Gene Bates, it's also scenic and extremely well conditioned.

As part of the renovation, brush and trees were scaled back to expose views of the blue waters of the Pacific. The new bentgrass fairways and greens surrounded by fescue roughs dotted by rugged bunkers is striking. And if you set the course up firm, like it can be in the summer and fall, even the best players in the world will have to come in off the fairways to hold Bayonet's tricky, undulating greens.

At just over 7,100 yards, Bayonet isn't long by today’s PGA Tour standards, but its rating/slope of 74.8/141 is a testament to its difficulty. Plus, it's on Monterey Bay, and as far as I'm concerned, there's never too much golf played in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

This would be the perfect site for a late summer PGA Tour event right before the PGA Championship. You'd have a scenic course, mild temperatures and Pacific Ocean breezes at a course that's walkable and spectator-friendly. Talk about a recipe for success!