Fans have a unique opportunity to put their stamp on this week’s PGA Championship.
The PGA of America, along with five-time PGA champion Jack Nicklaus, is conducting the “PGA Championship Pick the Hole Location Challenge.”
Fans can go to PGA.com to vote on one of four hole locations for the par-3 181-yard 15th hole at Oak Hill. Whichever location is selected will be used in Sunday’s final round.
Nicklaus consulted with Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s chief championships officer who is in charge of course layout, on the possible locations.
“Kerry had come up with what he thought would be the most likely four pin placements on the green,” Nicklaus said. “I think it was a great idea, because the response has been terrific to it. People have been very involved in being interested and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to be part of the PGA Championship.’ I think that’s what the PGA of America wants. They want to include people in the game and grow the game and make sure that people feel like they are part of what the championship is. I think it’s kind of a neat thing.”
Nicklaus hosts video vignettes on PGA.com that aim to educate fans on how course setup impacts a golfer’s strategy.
The first hole location is in the center of the green, 18 feet from the front fringe and 12 feet from the right fringe, bringing both water on the right and the front-left bunker into play. The second option is toward the back of the green, 21 feet from the left fringe. The left-middle bunker is the biggest obstacle in this location. The third location is tucked right behind the water hazard, just 12 feet from the right fringe and rough. Players will have to be bold to attack this pin. The final location is the longest from the tee, 90 feet from the front fringe.
“I tried to get the PGA to do all four rounds,” Nicklaus said. “Maybe that was a little bit too much the first year, all four pin placements, seeing if the weather conditions and everything was going to change. I’m not going to divulge which one I think it will be, but I think there was one that’s a little bit more difficult than the others. My bet is that’s the one they are picking.”
Nicklaus won the last of his five PGA championships – which ties Rochester’s Walter Hagen for the most of all time – in 1980 at Oak Hill. He aced the 15th hole during a practice round that year. Nicklaus was the only player to break par that year, finishing at 6-under 274 for a seven-stroke victory. That was the largest margin of victory in PGA history, until Rory McIlroy won by eight last year.
“I love Oak Hill. It’s a wonderful golf course,” Nicklaus said. “It’s a good test. Nobody has ever really chewed it apart, and it’s one you’ve got to play smart on, but you’ve got to control your golf ball and you’ve also got to putt, because the greens are not easy.”
Fans attending this week’s tournament have the opportunity to gain live access to on-course coverage through FanVision, a handheld TV device.
The device allows fans to view multiple channels of audio and video coverage, regardless of where they are on the course. The devices can be rented online at www.fanvision.com/pgachampionship. They cost $20 per day or $60 for all four rounds.
Fans can also pick up a free pedometer at the “Let’s Move on Course” booth, which is located at the main entrance. A total of 25,000 pedometers will be given away with a limited supply distributed each day on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who create a “walking” account and track their steps at HSS.edu/golf will be entered into a drawing to win an autographed pin flag signed by the tournament winner.
It’s estimated that walking 18 holes is equivalent to a five-mile walk.
Tom Watson will make his 32nd appearance in a PGA Championship this week, the most of any player in the field. The 63-year-old hasn’t played in this tournament since 2003. ... Gary Woodland’s victory Sunday in the Reno-Tahoe Open earned him the 156th and final spot in this week’s field.