2011 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
The 93rd PGA Championship will be held at a more challenging Atlanta Athletic Club in August 2011
By Stan Awtrey
Opposite: Atlanta Athletic Club is known as the home club of the legendary Bobby Jones, whose sculpture stands in front of the clubhouse.
“I was working on a hole-by-hole description when it hit me: this course is so much different than it was before,” says Rick Anderson, the Atlanta Athletic Club’s PGA director of golf since 1989.
And in this instance, different definitely
means more difficult. How, you ask? Read
• Players at the 93rd PGA Championship
will find a longer course. A renovation
spearheaded by architect Rees Jones and
completed in 2006 stretched the course
to 7,486 yards and will play to par 70.
• The fairways are narrower, firmer and faster. The Athletic Club switched to Diamond Zoysia, a surface that Ken Mangum, the director of golf courses and grounds since 1988, says will roll about nine on a Stimpmeter. The fast fairways means players will have difficulty keeping their drives in the short grass.
• The rough was changed to Tifton 10 Bermuda, which will offer a darker, more colorful contrast to the fair ways. It will also present the player with a different challenge, since a ball will now be less likely to sink to the bottom of the rough and could require more inventive shotmaking.
• The bunkers were deepened and fairway
bunkers were moved to accommodate
today’s longer players. The bunkers
were moved 10–40 yards farther down
the fairway, most of them in the
280–340 yard range. (They were
240–250 yards away from the tees in
1981, Anderson said.)
• The bentgrass greens were replaced with a new strain of Bermuda known as Champion Ultradwarf. It is expected to produce firmer greens that will be more difficult to hold. The switch also ensured there would be no drama with the greens during the hot, humid and unpredictable Atlanta summer.
• Four tees were lengthened to add another 273 yards to the design.
“Some people have said we’re diabolical,” Mangum says with a smile. But not all changes were made with a penal motive – the No. 1 tee was backed up to accommodate crowd flow.
Officials believed the Highlands Course — which also hosted the 1976 U.S. Open — had to be toughened up in order to keep pace with the Atlanta Athletic Club’s Riverside Course, the venue for the 1990 U.S. Women’s Open which was renovated in 2003.
“That caused some unintended
consequences,” Mangum recalls. “We
hadn’t really given much thought to doing a
renovation until we were forced to keep up
WHEN THE BEST GOLFERS IN THE WORLD RETURN TO the Atlanta Athletic Club for the 2011 PGA Cham- pionship, they’ll again receive a warm, gracious reception from the fans. But that Southern hospi-
tality is likely to vanish where the ropes begin. Seems the golf course has
grown a new set of fangs since it last hosted the PGA Championship a
decade ago (2001, and before that in 1981).
162 THE OFFICIAL PROGRAM OF THE 2010 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP