KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – On paper, this week’s Ocean Course is set to be the longest in major championship history at 7,876 yards, but it probably won’t play that long.
Players were informed by the PGA of America this week that the plan is to possibly use “forward” tees “depending on the wind strength and direction.” All but four holes – Nos. 1, 2, 10 and 15 – could play shorter based on the wind direction and players were advised to practice from the forward tees.
“Seriously, I hope so, because yesterday from 14 on, I think the shortest iron I hit into a green was a 5-iron. I'm not usually the shortest hitter,” Jon Rahm said. “For the sake of our sanity, I believe they're going to use a couple forward tees.”
Specifically, players said Nos. 9 and 15 could play dramatically different based on which tees officials use. The set-up will depend on the forecast, which currently calls for winds from the east for the first two rounds, which is similar to how the course has played in practice. On Saturday, however, the winds will switch to the west creating an entirely different challenge.
“That's, in part, why they designed this golf course as they did – 7,800 yards is certainly the longest golf course in championship history,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s chief championships officer. “They designed it for that reason because of the wind and the effects it has downwind, [Ocean Course architect Pete Dye] was the first to say, you need plenty of length. But into the wind you have that ability, they built enough tees, enough teeing options for us to give some variety and make it playable for the players.”