Whistling Straits is not having a smooth start to the PGA Championship. In fact, Whistling Straits just kicked off the championship, as the course was invaded by fog this morning. After three hours of delays, the first tee off finally took place after 11 a.m. est, and now golfers will work to full complete the first round anyway. The British Open had a wind delay, so it may be fitting that the PGA Championship had a similarly freaky weather problem. However, this may be apt for Whistling Straits, since it is already being compared to a British course.
Although it is in Wisconsin, the course for the year’s final major has frequently been mistaken for one on the European Tour or a British Open. The 7,514 yard course has intimidating bunkers, unique designs, and very rough areas peppered around it. Now, on top of everything else, it has fog.
Whistling Straits has been softened a bit by the PGA, as bunkers have been reduced and the course is a little soft from rain. This is nothing new for tournament officials, as fear of high scores and all too difficult action was in place the last time the championship came here.
In 2004, Whistling Straits had its big coming out party, and turned out to yield fairly easily early on. Players regularly shot in the 60s for the first three rounds, yet things were a bit different at the end. In fact, Vijay Singh won in a playoff, despite shooting a 76 in the final round.
For this year’s gathering, Whistling Straits stands to be similarly unpredictable, especially today. With the delay this morning, and with the fog still hanging around a bit, there could be some pretty high scores for round one.
The fog might not be the end of it, as conditions for Friday and Saturday also look grim. Some showers and storms are predicted for the next two days, with things only starting to clear up on Sunday. However, although the last 18 holes could be played with clear skies, getting the first 54 holes in on time before then may be a challenge.
Even on a clear day, Whistling Straits can still cause damage. The 18th hole in particular is filled with pitfalls, with several bunkers that don’t seem visible at first glance. At the least, the leaders will have to really earn a victory at the very end, as the course won’t give way easily. Yet the weather appears set to give it some extra help anyway.
New York Times- “Feel as if You’re Playing on the Moon? It Must Be Whistling Straits”
Golf Week- “Hole to watch: No. 18 at Whistling Straits”
AFP- “PGA Championship under way after lengthy fog delay”