A RETURN TO THE OCEAN COURSE?
Godich: Gary Van Sickle said to call it a links course was nonsensical. Michael Bamberger called it a joke. John Garrity didn't have many great things to say about it either. Yet early results from a poll of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers suggest otherwise. What was your take on the Ocean Course? And is it worthy of hosting another major?
Herre: Almost all the writers on the scene were kvetching about Kiawah because the logistics were so bad. Many fans were complaining too. But the players seemed to like the place, and it looks great on TV. What's wrong with trying something different? The place is truly magical, as is the Low Country in general.
Bamberger: I did not feel the magic, just the bug bites.
Dusek: If organizers are looking for something unique, how about trying to find something west of St. Louis? The entire western half of United States is out there, but we don't have a PGA Championship west of the Mississippi scheduled. How about Riviera, the Broadmoor, Castle Pines, Sahalee?
Bamberger: How about Bandon? If you stage it, they will come.
Van Sickle: The course isn't playable in the wind, as was proven Friday. And there are about 10 days a year when it's not windy. It's a terrible course for spectators; there are few sight lines and it's tough to walk outside the ropes. Also, you can't get there from here. You'd have to pay me to play there.
Dusek: I don't think Kiawah is worthy. As Gary pointed out, the wind blows 90 percent of the time, but the course plays soft so you can't hit low, running, links-style shots. The greens were wonderful this week, but it's a terrible walk for everyone; it provides bad viewing and no shade for the fans; steamy South Carolina is the second-wettest state in August (after Florida); and the parking and traffic issuers were of Biblical proportions.
Shipnuck: For three out of four days, I thought it was a good, stout test, with breath-taking visuals. In high winds, its design idiosyncrasies make it close to unplayable, but Friday was kind of morbidly fascinating. The Open wouldn't go back to Turnberry until they fixed the roads. Same thing here. The logistics are a nightmare and have to be solved to even consider a return.
Walker: I thought the fan viewing areas were great, especially from the top of the dunes on the back nine.
Garrity: Well, I've got ONE great thing to say about the Ocean Course -- the putting surfaces were sensational. But I agree with most of the players, who privately complain that it is unplayable when the wind exceeds 20-25 miles per hour, which happens with some frequency. And Kiawah shouldn't get another major purely for logistical reasons. If somebody had died in yesterday's thunderstorms, the organizers would have had a hard time explaining their fantastical spectator-evacuation plan.
Bamberger: It's a joke because the Friday rounds in the wind took nearly six hours. The greens are pushed up when they should be pushed down. You can't run the ball anywhere. It's not meant to be walked. The paspalum greens have no life to them. The run-off areas take chipping out of the game. It looks great on TV, though. It looks beautiful. It feels like real golf, but it's not. I would not go back.
Hanger: It's a beautiful place, but clearly flawed from a course-design perspective and as a spectator venue.
Wei: Pete Dye is the master of designing courses that are aesthetically pleasing for TV and stupid hard. To clarify, hard and fair is okay. Hard and unfair is what makes it stupid. It was fine when the conditions were relatively calm, but on Friday there were holes that were unplayable.
Walker: What's the problem with the design? It's not a links course, it's a Pete Dye course. And it was great for spectators. I'd rather see another PGA at the Ocean Course than another U.S. Open at Olympic.
Hanger: I'm not a fan of Dye's stuff, which seems overly penal. And links or not, when the wind is up, it doesn't allow for the kind of wind-cheating shots that the best players want to hit, and that fans want to watch.
Wei: It was AWFUL for spectators. First, they had to sit in traffic to park, then they had to take a shuttle to the golf course. Last night at 9:30 there was still an endless line of cars waiting to exit the lot. It was also a tough course for spectators because of the marshes and the small walkways. (It reminded me of Whistling Straits, but not as severe.)
Bamberger: The unsung heroes of this PGA were the fans, all 10,000 of them who actually made it to the course. Their devotion to golf inspires me.
Walker: Most of the fans I talked to were happy to have a major championship come to their area and understood why they needed shuttle buses to get there. Bethpage was a mess in heavy rain at the 2009 U.S. Open too.
Gorant: Maybe, but they set a new low for yelling stupid stuff after tee shots.
Bamberger: Sadly, that is deeply true.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Should the Ocean Course host another major?
CLUB PROS MISS THE CUT
Godich: Twenty club pros were in the field of 156. None made the cut. In the previous six PGA Championships, no more than two club pros made the cut in any one event, and no one finished better than 68th. Some would say it's time to retire the club pros from the PGA. I say give them back the 40 spots they used to have. As Michael Bamberger so eloquently pointed out, it's part of the charm of the PGA. What say you?
Dusek: I am totally fine with having club professionals playing the event because nearly every golfer ranked in the top 100 was also in the field. Their presence certainly doesn't detract from the event, and on the odd occasion when one makes the cut, or contends after Thursday or Friday, it adds an interesting and welcome storyline to the tournament.
Herre: Let 'em play. The PGA of America is their organization, and having club pros in the field is a point of differentiation that helps give the event an identity. Still a very strong field.
Gorant: Agree. Without the club guys it's U.S. Open light.
Hanger: Definitely keep them. All the majors have something unique about them - the Masters is exclusive and has Augusta National, the U.S. and British Opens have the meritocracy of the qualifying systems. The PGA lacks the aura of the other three, but the fact that regular guys who make their living in the game get a chance to play is the coolest thing about it. And how cool would it be if a club pro someday careered it and made a run?
Garrity: I'm with Bamberger. The club pros are the equivalent of the guys who get into the Opens through qualifying and the guys who get special invites to the Masters. Not many make the cut, but fresh faces relieve the same-old same-old of consecutive majors. And also, in case everybody's forgotten, it's THEIR tournament. The PGA ought to be able to showcase its few good men.
Bamberger: Golf, like baseball, covets its roots. It's so important to the game, and a PGA without club pros is a far lesser event. I think 20 is too few. You could also expand the definition of what constitutes a club pro and the path in.
Godich: The number used to be 40, but then the PGA wanted to be able to say it had the strongest field in golf. So now guys who hover around 100 in the World Ranking get an invite they don't deserve. Sad.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Should PGA pros still be allowed to play in the season's final major?