Wednesday, August 8, 2012

PGA - Kiawah

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C.—My first reaction, after stepping onto the Ocean Course this week for the first time, was to laugh out loud. Pete Dye, that rascally dog!

Dye, golf's most mischievous architect (TPC Sawgrass in Florida, Whistling Straits in Wisconsin), has been fiddling with his monstrous masterpiece here, which sits on a barrier island near Charleston, since 1991. It was hard enough for the Ryder Cup that year, now known as the "War by the Shore." Since then Dye has made it longer, tougher and even more exposed to the unpredictable seaside winds. For Thursday's first round at the PGA Championship, gusts of 20 mph are expected, with stronger winds over the weekend.

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Adam Scott of Australia hits out of a sand trap.

The course is 100% artificial, which is what makes you laugh. It looks natural. It looks at first blush like a classic links of the British Isles. But in fact the Ocean Course is a clever American links replica. Every dune, every swale, every sandy waste area, every raised fairway and every complex green sprang entirely from Dye's fevered imagination.

"I describe it as a links course through the air," Graeme McDowell said Wednesday. "When it blows here, the wind is a massive factor, you know, strength and direction, but it certainly does not play linksy along the ground."