Tulsa, Akla. – Matt Kuchar on Tuesday during training at the Southern Hills was making a rough shot when he cut one so thick that he approached a few yards from the hole, uncertainly balancing on the edge of the green field.
“Give it back to me,” Kuchar said, playing his partner Dustin Johnson, who simply replied, “I don’t think I should.”
As he predicted, the ball began to flow from the field, finally stopped at the feet of Kuchar about 20 meters from him.
This is something that can happen on any number of holes during this week’s PGA Championship, fun for fans and crazy players. But it’s also what famous golf course architect Perry Maxwell meant when he first laid a venerable field near Tulsa city center almost 90 years ago, and what Gil Hans and Jim Wagner tried to restore when club members asked them to return its in its roots in time for its next major championship.
“It’s a lovely place,” said Justin Thomas, who has always preferred classic courses. “You know, big landslides and escapes on the green islands, and Bermuda grass makes it very difficult to mow, so she pays special attention to having different techniques and different styles around the greenery, and prefers ball-kicks where you can get on the green .
“I think,” said Thomas, “it’s an incredibly big place in the championship.”
It was definitely popular, the first to host five PGA championships, and one of the few to host it along with the US Open several times. But the course where Tiger Woods won the PGA in 2009 and Retif Guzen won the US Open in 2002 is very different from what Jordan Spit, Scotty Scheffler and everyone else will face this week.
It’s more like the one where Tommy Bolt won the 1958 U.S. Open.
Over the years, the course has changed. It grew and developed. Entire streams that were once in the game have disappeared among the dense tree plantations. And this greenery with their trademark “Maxwell’s Role” has lost its original character, turning into saucers that welcomed failed punches on the approach, rather than the thin mounds that repelled them.
Hansa and Wagner, who had just undergone a similar restoration of a Los Angeles country club, needed to peel off layers of time.
They received help from Southern Hills club historian Clyde Chrisman, who has provided photographs and other materials since the club’s founding in 1936, and superintendent Ross Myers, who has worked with them on other projects.
Restoring greenery was perhaps the biggest change, but hardly the only one. Hundreds of trees have been removed to create an open view of the property. Landing has expanded. The bunkers were redesigned and relocated to more accurately reflect the task Maxwell had envisioned days before the 300-yard drives became standard.
“I think they did an incredible job,” said Carrie Hay of PGA, who is in charge of setting up the track for the tournament. “They added five or six new tees for the back. The most modern hygronics on greens for cool herbs here in the heat of summer. And all this just gives us more of a canvas to test the best players. It gives much more options for throws, much more variety of throws, much more opportunities to hit the woods or tee drivers ”.
Southern Hills is not necessarily unique in this regard. In recent years, many of the country’s historical courses have been restored. Hans helped reshape Merion, Winged Foot and The Country Club, and Bill Cour and Ben Cranshaw worked on such respected models as Pinehurst No. 2, Riviera and Seminole.
They became partly architects of golf courses, partly archaeologists of golf courses. However, turning back time, they also managed not only to preserve the integrity of the original layouts, but also to create something relevant as before.
“The game has changed a lot,” Woods said before training on Tuesday, “and as the game has changed so much, Gil has done a fantastic job of changing the golf course. He has a lot more shot options, that’s for sure. And around the greens we’re going to experience a lot. Lots of grain, lots of creativity, but it still prefers putting the ball into play both on the fairway and somehow below the holes in the right places. ”
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