No less an authority than Ben Hogan placed the moniker of "The Monster" on Oakland Hills. He commented after the 1951 US Open in response to his final round 67, "I'm glad that I brought this course, this monster, to it's knees." You see the great ones always play the course. Who they're playing is of little consequence. The entrants in this year's PGA Championship would do well to emulate Mr. Hogan, as this course could well make the Blue Monster look like a goldfish.
The South course it is, designed by Donald Ross, tweaked by Robert Trent Jones, and tweaked again by his son Rees. This year it can play to 7,395 yards, as opposed to the 6,974 it played at for the 1996 US Open. Additional bunkers lay in wait for errant shots. The fairways are cut leading right into most of them, so don't expect a ball through the fairway will be slowed by rough to keep it out of harms way. Fine line there. A couple of inches could spell the difference between a great fairway lie or a desperate one in a sunken beach. Both water hazards have been made larger and feature extended rock edges. That should make for a few camera-fooling, super ball type bounces that will dominate the evening highlight reels. Can't wait!
Kerry Haigh, senior director of tournaments for the PGA of America is in charge of the setup. He's claimed that he doesn't anticipate many changes after Rees Jones' redo. Expect to see 4" rough and greens running 12.5 on the Stimpmeter. That's wicked fast on these saucer-like, hideously difficult greens. Tee placements will be determined by weather conditions and the available variety. Keep an eye on the 387 par 4, 6th hole. At least one day it will play as a 305 yd. drivable par 4. The dogleg 16th, sided by a lake and the 238 yd. par 3 17th will almost assuredly create some late round action. Most folks with half a clue in such matters expect the winning score to be around five over par. Me, being clueless, have no idea.
It's not your father's PGA anymore. Countless trips to bland, wide open golf courses that seemed like the local muni, with better players. They've done a great job of spicing up the mix. From the novelty and world-class test of Whistling Straits to returning to a venerable classic like Oakland Hills. Damn, this is starting to feel like a major again.