Next week sees the final major of the year arrive in North Carolina as the world’s best get ready to do battle at a reworked Quail Hollow for the 2017 PGA Championship.
To help build up to another gargantuan tussle for the Wanamaker Trophy, here at Hole19 we thought we’d focus in on the course at Quail Hollow that will play host to the 99th edition of the prestigious tournament.
As Jimmy Walker seeks to defend the title he so gloriously won in 2016, we are all expecting a great spectacle and one where the awe-inspiring Texan Jordan Spieth can conceivably become the youngest in history to achieve the career grand slam.Course Layout & Changes
Length: 7,442 yards
Quail Hollow has been the regular host of the Wells Fargo Championship and its alternatively-named predecessors since 2003.
In the lead-up to this year's PGA Championship there have been quite a few pretty drastic changes made to the layout. The design that we have been used to for the annual hosting of the Wells Fargo will have been moulded and chiselled into what promises to be a far more testing track for those teeing it up for the final major championship of the year.
Thousands of trees have been removed to help re-shape the golf course and to help sunlight to hit greens which should be, by the start of play on Thursday, in tip-top condition - in part due to the introduction of new Champion Ultradwarf Bermudagrass.
The first hole has been extended more than 100 yards and is now a 524-yard par-4 dogleg right. The original second hole has made way to allow for the lengthening of the first, while the old 3rd and 4th holes will play as holes 2 and 3 respectively.
The former par-5 fifth was broken into two holes — a 184-yard par-3 built to replace the par-3 at No. 2 and a 449-yard par-4. The 11th hole was also lengthened.
All in all, it’s going to be a monster. And that’s before we even consider ‘The Green Mile' - probably one of the toughest closing trio of holes in the global game.
As a reminder of its fearsome reputation, check out what some of the world's best players think:What will it take to win round the new-look course?
It isn’t going to be easy. In fact, the four days around North Carolina’s flagship course is going to be about as far from easy as you can imagine for those teeing it up next Thursday.
Many commentators expect an over-par winning score, and these sentiments are echoed by several Tour players, including Justin Rose and Phil Mickleson, who have both stated their belief that the changes will only add to the difficulty of what was already a challenging course.
Mental strength will be a must. It could be a real war of attrition out there and a cool head will be needed to remain competitive in the testing conditions. A key statistic this week will likely be greens in regulation and, given the course length, the ability to find the putting surface with a long iron will be priceless. Putting on those slick greens will not be easy either.
Keep an eye out for our list of ‘Players to Watch’ next week when we will be pulling together a group of players who tick all the boxes for us.