5 Memorable PGA Championship Moments
It all began in 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N. Y., with England’s Jim Barnes winning the first PGA Championship and the Wanamaker Trophy, one of the most coveted prizes in golf.
Considered the “fairest” of all the majors, as it is both playable and fun, this PGA event is the tournament your hotshot club pro has a chance of playing alongside the game’s best. For the 20 that qualify, just being part of it all is a thrill. And over the years, there have been many thrilling and memorable moments.
The Long Drive Competition
This year at the 96th PGA Championship an old tradition was revived at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.: the Long Drive Competition first held in 1952 at the Big Spring Country Club. In 1963, Jack Nicklaus drilled a winning drive of 341 yards with a persimmon club. It seems fitting this contest was re-staged on the 10th tee, on a course designed by Nicklaus himself.
Fans Vote on Pin Placement
Last year on the final day at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N. Y., Jason Dufner – who ultimately won – didn’t particularly love the fans’ selection of the back pin placement on the 181-yard par 3, 15th hole. But after driving just short of the green, his next shot left him a short putt for par. Dufner later credited his “up and down” on this hole as a key moment in his final round and ultimate victory.
This year’s fan vote hole is Valhalla’s 510-yard, par 4, 16th. “I saw all four hole locations the fans have to choose from and it’ll be a tough challenge, whichever they choose,” said Dufner. “I’m sure the fans will probably pick that front left location, because it’s probably the toughest. For whatever reason, they like to see us struggle a little bit.”
You can vote at picktheholechallenge.pga.com until 7 pm on Saturday, August 9.
Coming Up Rainbows
Nearing the final hole of the 1997 PGA Championship, a rain-soaked day on Winged Foot Golf Course in Mamaroneck, N. Y., Davis Love III was is full pursuit of his first major title. Umbrellas were up, drizzle was steady. Then just as Love completed the 18th hole on Sunday, the rain tapered off and a brilliant rainbow arched in the sky as Love sank a 12-foot birdie putt to capture his pot of gold.
A Bunker in Disguise
Playing Pete Dye’s Whistling Straits Golf Club in Kohler, Wisc., Dustin Johnson teed off with a one-hole lead on the 18th of the last day. His drive soared into the gallery right of the fairway on a well-trampled sandy area. He had landed in a bunker, but it was hard to tell.
Called the most bunkered course in the world—some say there are more than 1,000—the PGA Rules Committee had issued a cautionary bulletin to address this issue. “You know, walking up there, seeing the shot, it never once crossed my mind that I was in a sand trap,” said Johnson. Johnson was nailed with a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker thereby taking him out of any playoff.
Act of God Saves Hagen
At the 1921 PGA Championship at Inwood Country Club on Long Island, N. Y., Walter Hagen conjured up an ingenious way to play his second shot on the 17th hole, normally a tough approach to the green. Hagen boasted he could play over onto the parallel 18th giving him an advantage coming in from the right side. Hearing this, Jack Mackie, the golf professional and Morton Wild, a landscaper, uprooted a 15-foot weeping willow from the woods and planted it that night to divide the two fairways.
Standing on the tee the next morning, Hagen quipped, “I never saw such fast-growing trees in my life.” Seconds later a freak wind gust caught the willow, toppling it to the ground leaving the hole open for Hagen’s intended route.
Pocketed at Oak Hill
On the third day of the 2013 PGA at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., Jonas Blixt teed off on the 18th and bingo – his ball sailed right into the back pocket of a fan. Blixt went on to get a free drop then followed up with another amazing shot: a 205-yard miraculous 5-iron to within three feet of the cup to birdie the hole.
Featured image courtesy of Gary Kellner/ PGA.com.