TULSA, Okla. ( Associated Press) — Matt Kutcher was flopping a shot from the rough during his practice round in Southern Hills on Tuesday when he made one so thick that it came several yards from the hole, which was uncertain. It got crooked on the edge. green.
“Knock back for me,” said Kutcher, playing his partner Dustin Johnson, who simply replied: “I don’t think I have to.”
As he predicted, the ball began to trickle back out of the green, eventually stopping at Kutcher’s feet about 20 yards away.
This is the sort of thing that could happen on any hole during the PGA Championship this week, hilarious for fans and crazy for players. But it was also the mind of famed golf course architect Perry Maxwell when he laid the venerable course near downtown Tulsa nearly 90 years ago, and what Gil Swan and Jim Wagner restored when the club’s membership asked him to withdraw it. tried to do. Its roots are in time for its next major championship.
“It’s a lovely place,” said Justin Thomas, who has always preferred classic courses. “You know, big falls and run-offs on greens, and Bermuda grass gets very difficult to chip, so it puts a premium on having different techniques and different styles around the greens, and also puts a premium on the ball.” is – striking where you can hit the green.
“I think,” said Thomas, “it’s an unbelievably major championship venue.”
It has certainly been popular, being the first to host five PGA Championships and one of the few to host it multiple times, along with the US Open. But the course on which Tiger Woods won the PGA in 2009, and Ritif Goosen won the US Open in 2002, is very different from the course Jordan Spieth, Scotty Scheffler and everyone else faced this week.
It’s like Tommy Bolt won the 1958 US Open.
The curriculum had changed over the years. It was developed and developed. The entire bay that was once in the game had disappeared among the thick stands of trees. And those greens, with their trademark “Maxwell’s rolls”, had lost their original character, turning into saucers, welcoming poorly hit approach shots instead of the subtle mounds that rejected them.
It was up to Hansey and Wagner, fresh from a similar restoration of the Los Angeles Country Club, to peel back the layers of time.
He was helped by Southern Hills Club historian Clyde Chrisman, who provided photographs and other material from the club’s founding in 1936, along with superintendent Russ Myers, who had worked with him on other projects.
The restoration of greenery was perhaps the biggest change, but it was hardly the only change. Hundreds of trees were removed to create an open view throughout the property. The landing areas were widened. In the days before the 300-plus-yard drive became standard, the bunkers were reshaped and more accurately relocated to reflect the challenge that Maxwell intended.
“I think he did an incredible job,” said Kerry High of the PGA, which is responsible for setting the course for the tournament. “They added five or six new tees for the back. State-of-the-art hygronics on the greens for the cool-season grasses here in the sweltering heat of summer. And it all gives us more kind of canvas to test the best players. That’s a lot.” Offers more shot options, a lot more shot variety, a lot more options for hitting the woods or drivers to the tee.”
Southern Hills is not necessarily unique in this respect. In recent years, there have been efforts to restore extension to many of the country’s historic courses. Hansey has helped reshape Merion, Winged Foot and The Country Club, while Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have worked on venerable layouts such as Pinehurst No. 2, the Riviera and the Seminole.
He has become part golf course architect, part golf course archaeologist. Yet in turning back the times, they have somehow managed to not only maintain the integrity of the original layout but also produce something as relevant as ever.
“The game has changed a lot,” Woods said before his practice round on Tuesday, “and because the game has changed so much, Gill has done a fantastic job of transforming the golf course. There’s a lot more shot options, that’s for sure.” . And we’re going to do a lot of testing around the greens. A lot of grain, a lot of creativity, but it still puts a premium on getting the ball into play and in the fairway and somehow down the hole in the right places.”
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