NEWS FROM THE TOUR VANS
BROUGHT TO YOU BY GOLF PRIDE, THE #1 GRIP ON TOUR
Oak Hill brought a unique challenge last week at the PGA Championship. The result was more headcovers showing up in bags when Thursday morning rolled around.
The reason came down to getting out of the punishing rough more easily. Many players were remarking not only about the length of the rough but the thickness of it. Max Homa called it the kind of dense grass you might find in a front yard, adding that it “is different than pretty much anything I've played on.”
That was a common sentiment among the game’s best.
“The thickest blades of grass, it's almost like St. Augustine (grass) or something,” Justin Thomas said. “It’s very, very thick.”
With balls nestling down – and it being difficult to generate spin out of those lies – a couple of adjustments needed to be made.
Players put an extra emphasis on getting the ball running in the fairways, especially given the firmness of the short grass. Although Oak Hill is nearly 7,400 yards at par-70, competitors sometimes opted for less than driver off the tee. When they did find the rough, players got used to running the ball up through openings at the front of the green. Many players compared Oak Hill to Winged Foot in that respect.
“There are similarities; not quite the same,” Jon Rahm said. “The greens are not nearly as severe. They are kind of squarish for the most part. You do have an opening in the middle, but not in all of them. It will give you an opportunity, but man, if you don't hit it through that gap, some of the holes that are quite narrow, those bunkers are no joke.”
The other related adjustment was adding hybrids or higher-lofted fairway woods. Because these clubs have centers of gravity that sit lower to the ground and farther from the ball, a higher spin and greater launch angle can be generated.
Many players added those clubs into their bag last week. Matthew Fitzpatrick replaced his 4-iron with a hybrid. Jordan Spieth requested a game-improvement Titleist TSR1 hybrid to keep around, just in case. Gary Woodland opted for a Ping G425 Max 7-wood instead of a Cobra LTDx LS 5-wood to get some extra loft and spin out of the rough. Tommy Fleetwood had a 7-wood and a 15-degree TaylorMade Stealth Plus 3-wood that replaced a 13.5-degree TaylorMade BRNR mini driver.
Some players were so into the idea of generating spin out of the rough that they looked at 9-woods, which have the loft of a 5-iron.
Whatever it takes to get the ball in the hole.