Golf Digest's August issue has landed, and one story really got your attention: the oral history of the raucous1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah, site of this year's PGA Championship. It all brought back memories of Kiawah, and provoked an idea for a dramatic change in the PGA Championship... but first that Ryder Cup story.
What a great article by Guy Yocom and John Huggan on the 1991 Ryder Cup. That was my first and only trip to a Ryder Cup. Will get back to one eventually. Going up and done those dunes was brutal. My wife (6 months pregnant) and I were standing behind 18 green on Sunday in prime position for the finish. As the matches progressed it looked as though the Cup would be decided early so I took off for 15 and 16. Never did get back to my wife until after it was all over. Did see Calc and Montgomery at 17 though. Ugly. Still miss Payne. Thanks.
Terry Schwab, Fort Scott, KS
The nine pages of reporting by Yocom and Huggan are riveting. Two decades after the "War by the Shore," participants in perhaps the most combative Matches in the Cup's history are willing to tell all--some still ready for combat. Here's Hale Irwin
, whose match with Bernhard Langer decided the Cup, on the level of tension he felt at No. 17 on the final day.
My golf swing was sort of a mess that week, and for the first time my senses became overloaded. I couldn't process everything. I felt so much anxiety I was just playing by instinct. I was 1 up but missed the green with my tee shot. As I'm walking to the green I see Seve talking to a teammate in Spanish. Trying to keep things light, I say, "Hey, Seve, what did you say?" He looked at me and says, "I said, 'Too bad he didn't knock in in the water.'" That didn't bother me at all. He's competitive. That's fine."
Much more like that in the August issue. But now on to our idea.
Kiawah's No. 17 (above, during last year's recent Senior PGA) was a huge hole that week--and not only for Irwin. Remember Mark Calcavecchia's disaster there against Colin Montgomerie? Indeed, much of the drama of that Ryder Cup was due to that penultimate hole and Pete Dye's (then very new) design. No one does drama--or finishing holes--like Dye. He may be the best creator of 17th holes anywhere.
So here's the proposal. The PGA stages its Championship at the Ocean Course every two years. In between, it goes to Whistling Straits, another Dye course with another strong finishing stretch. Move the Ryder Cup around all you want, but stage the PGA only on those two courses.
Why? First, because viewers would love it. They'd learn the holes and especially the finishing stretches, of two very telegenic courses (just as they have with the Masters and the Players), knowing Dye's designs would deliver late-inning drama. Second, because doing so would set the PGA Championship apart. No more, "Hey, in '97 was that an Open or a PGA at Winged Foot?" No more "sharing" with the USGA. The PGA Championship would carry its own distinctive and identity on two modern and major courses, one north, one south, both with the feel of links. Third, because it would be a fitting tribute to the most influential golf architect of the modern era.
There are lots of reasons why this will never happen. But it would be pretty cool if it did. Think about it as you watch next week.