At the PGA Championship this week on Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course, players who competed in the same tournament in 2005 will see a similar course, albeit a bit longer at 7,450 yards and with a different style of rough. The classic course, originally designed by A.W. Tillinghast, will play at par 70, two strokes higher than it does for Baltusrol’s members.
The rough could pose some problems for players who miss fairways. The intermediate rough will be maintained at about 1.25 inches the first 8 feet outside of the fairway and the next cut will be about 3.5 inches and also extend out 8 feet.
“Beyond that is what we call the cabbage patch, which will be maintained at 5 to 6 inches,” says Mark Kuhns, Baltusrol’s director of grounds. “The players don’t want to stray too far off the beaten path as far as the fairways go or they will be in some dense, thick rough.”
Kuhns says the Lower Course’s bentgrass/Poa annua greens will run at about 11.5 feet the first two days of the tournament and about 13.5 feet on the second two days, although the PGA does not publicize the green speeds.
“It will be a fast and firm track,” Kuhns says.
While Kuhns has been busy prepping the course for the tournament, he says the maintenance staff is accustomed to maintaining it at a championship-caliber level. “The fact that we maintain Baltusrol at a very high level on a day-to-day basis means we don’t have to reinvent the wheel for the PGA Championship,” Kuhns adds. “We just have to tighten the bolts a little bit.”
Kerry Haigh, chief championships officer for the PGA of America, says he has worked closely with Kuhns to ready the course. “I feel strongly that the superintendent at each respected club is the expert and knows that club far better than anybody from the outside,” Haigh says. “The superintendent knows the intricacies of the course, the microclimates and all the little things. We work together as a team to make the championship the very best it can be.”
Watch the video below as Mark Kuhns discusses Baltusrol’s conditions for the PGA Championship.