The cover of the Aug. 6 issue of Golf World magazine says it all: “Danger Zone.”
That headline overlays an aerial photo of the site of this week’s 2012 PGA Championship, with a sub-headline that reads: “Winning the PGA will mean solving the nuanced terror of Pete Dye’s Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.”
That’s the lead-in to writer Mike Stachura’s “The Ultimate Riddle,” in which he makes a case for the real star of the 94th PGA Championship being not the eventual winner, but the stage upon which he and 155 others will perform. Stachura, interviewing the 86-year-old architect, aka “The Marquis de Sod,” writes that “There are no straight answers with Pete Dye,” and “The Ocean Course … might be Dye’s least straight answer ever, which could make it his most straight answer ever, defining the man and his approach to his craft in a single 2 ½-mile strip of barrier island coastline.”
Stachura also calls The Ocean Course “a brutal beauty” that will provide the ultimate test for the PGA Championship’s field of 156 of the world’s best players.
Yes, The Ocean Course will be the longest major in history (listed at 7,676 yards – and it could be stretched to 7,937 yards, though that will never happen … this year, anyway). Yes, it is regarded as the most difficult course in North America and perhaps the world. Yes, it left scars on participants in the 1991 Ryder Cup that inaugurated the course – and might do so again.
And yet, say Dye and former Ocean Course director of golf maintenance George Frye, the true genius of the course is not so much its difficulty as it is Dye’s ability to make it appear even tougher than it is. Dye built his ocean-side gem immediately after Hurricane Hugo, which enabled him to incorporate elements with the land and marsh that likely will never be replicated. Add the capricious winds, which can make it manageable if they don’t blow, or not much, or a nightmare if they do.
“The Ocean Course is torture amid serenity, a right cross that feels like a hug,” Stachura writes. To read the entire article, click here.