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Wednesday, 08 August 2012
A general view of the 17th green and grandstand  (Getty Images)
A general view of the 17th green and grandstand (Getty Images)

Ahead of the US PGA Championship, europeantour.com gives you the essential facts on this year’s host venue, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

Par: 72

Length: 7,676 yards

Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course will this week officially become the longest course ever contested upon in a Major Championship, playing two yards longer than the previous longest Major set-up at the 2009 US PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.

Opened: 1991

The Ocean Course was opened in 1991 prior to The 29th Ryder Cup, a platform that immediately provided the spectacular layout global admiration. That The 1991 Ryder Cup was such a dramatic contest – with the tie decided by the final putt in the final match – only added to the allure of the Atlantic coast setting.

Designer: Pete Dye

As well as The 1991 Ryder Cup, the 94th PGA Championship at The Ocean Course is the fifth US PGA Championship to be contested on a Pete Dye-designed course.

1988 Oak Tree Golf Club - Edmond, Oklahoma
1991 Crooked Stick Golf Club - Carmel, Indiana
2004 Whistling Straits - Kohler, Wisconsin
2010 Whistling Straits - Kohler, Wisconsin
2012 The Ocean Course - Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Course record: 63

Germany’s Alex Cejka, who is not in the field this week, owns the competitive course record at The Ocean Course. Cejka posted a nine under par 63 in the 1997 World Cup.

South Carolina

The Palmetto State has been home to many US PGA Tour events over the years, but the 94th PGA Championship is the first Major to be contested in South Carolina.

How does it play?

- Hugely wind-affected
- Players can experience up to an eight club difference on holes depending on the direction and strength of the wind
- There are no prevailing winds on the course
- Has more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere, with ten running along the Atlantic coast and the other eight running parallel
- Up to as many as six tee boxes on each hole, giving tournament officials the ability to dramatically change how a hole will be played during the competition
- Very few blind shots, Dye described his course as “fair”

Sand traps

The PGA of America previously announced that all sandy areas at The Ocean Course will be regarded as "through the green" and not designated as "bunkers" for the 94th PGA Championship.  As a result, players will be allowed to move loose impediments, take practice swings and ground their club lightly in these sandy areas, except when their ball lies in such a sandy area that is part of a water hazard or lateral water hazard.

All sandy areas inside the gallery rope line will be raked each morning prior to play. During play, as strokes or practice swings are made or players and others walk through such areas, footprints and other irregularities of surface may develop. Rakes will be available so that these areas may be smoothed as a courtesy to following players.
 
The trees

The Ocean Course is known for its unusual oblong-shaped trees on its front nine and the explanation is quite surprising. The general assumption would be that the trees get their unique shape due the wind, however, as previously stated there is no prevailing wind on the layout. The real reason for their inimitable shape is the amount of sea spray in the air. The salt works as a growth retardant so the half of the tree that is closest to the ocean will be thinner than the half of the tree that's further from the ocean, hence the tree canopies have an oblong shape.

Kiawah Island in popular culture

Film buffs will know that scenes from "The Legend of Bagger Vance" were filmed on Kiawah Island, including some scenes on a green and fairway that no longer exists. The green rested behind what this week is occupied by the Wanamaker Club, just east of the practice range. Actor Bruce McGill, who played Walter Hagen in the film, birdied the hole in practice. McGill was superstitious, and did not want to play the hole again until the scene in question. The film was released in 2000 and the green and fairway were removed by 2002.

Today, Kiawah Island has another mystical link to the title of a legendary motion picture, though the connection takes a globe and fine tuning. The fifth hole of The Ocean Course at the extreme eastern point of the island has a latitude measurement of 32 degrees, 36 minutes.  If one could draw an imaginary eastern line across the Atlantic Ocean from the fifth hole, you would come to one of the most recognisable cities in the world at 33 degrees, 35 minutes latitude - Casablanca.

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