Cows and Corn Give Way to Great Golf


CHASKA, Minn. - When Hazeltine National Golf Club hosted its first mens major championship in 1970, Dave Hill slammed Hazeltine and the USGA for holding the U.S. Open here.
All the course lacked, he said, was 80 acres of corn and a few cows.
Well, there are no cows here this week, just thoroughbreds.
At this weeks PGA Championship, there has been nothing but praise for Hazeltine from the best players in the world. Tom Lehman said, The course has changed dramatically since then (1970). Like most players in the PGA field, Lehman is impressed with how Hazeltine has evolved over the years. Im really impressed I think its a wonderful, wonderful golf course, he said.
Tiger Woods obviously likes it. The No. 1 player in the world says Hazeltine reminds him of the Chicago-area course where he won his first PGA Championship.
I think its similar to Medinah, very similar. Some of the looks, some of the shapes, some of the holes, he said. Of course, this familiarity for Tiger could be bad news for the rest of the field. As he thought about how comparable Hazeltine is to Medinah, Woods said, Hopefully I can use the same feeling I had then, this week.
The way the course is playing now, Hazeltine should favor the big-hitting players like Woods and British Open champion Ernie Els. After a wet Monday, the winds have been blowing across Chaska. Hazeltine has become firm and fast - especially the greens. I have hit a couple of wedges that have landed and skipped over the back, said Woods.
Now, if Tiger cant hold a wedge on Hazeltines greens, can you imagine how difficult it will be for all of those shorter hitters who will be forced to hit 6-irons into the same holes?
Ernie doesnt see his length as a great advantage this week. Its a ball-strikers dream, he said. If youre on your game, you should have a good week. Els calls Hazeltine a great championship golf course.
It should be a great week for everyone involved in this 84th PGA Championship. The golf fanatics here have made every day at the course feel like a weekend at a major. The crowds have been enormous. Wednesday morning at the practice tee, all 20 rows of the bleachers were filled and fans standing on the ground were 10-deep.
Research from the National Golf Foundation shows Minnesota has the highest per capita ratio of golfers of any state in the Union. It seems every one of those golf-hungry fans is here to watch and neither one cow nor one acre of corn has been in view.