Outside of the Nick Dunlap storyline, if watching The American Express didn’t feel like watching a major championship, your eyes weren’t lying to you. The formula for success at the trio of Amex courses is much different than the formula for winning at Augusta National or Royal Troon.

To win at The American Express, you basically have to be aggressive off the tee, hit high-quality wedge shots, and hole a bunch of seven-foot putts. Those required skills are the strongest tools in Sam Burn’s toolkit, so it shouldn’t have surprised anyone to see Burns around the top of the leaderboard for most of the week. It also shouldn’t shock anyone when players with limited success in major championships find success at PGA West; this tournament is not a thorough, demanding test of professional golf.

Of course, it hasn’t always been this way. Back in the early days of the Stadium Course, tour players petitioned to remove the course from the PGA Tour schedule because the golf course was too severe. Tom Watson said Pete Dye’s design “requires you to execute shots that no sane golfers should be expected to play.”

Offering a defense of his course, Dye explained that he “always felt that a good player who’s playing well wants to play a difficult golf course because he knows the winner won’t be someone who can just out-putt him.” How times have changed. In 2024, nobody bats an eye when a player shoots ten under par at the Stadium Course, like Keith Mitchell did Sunday. There were ten rounds of 65 or better yesterday. En route to his final round 62, Mitchell hit just four approach shots on par 4s from more than 130 yards, the longest of which was 178 yards. Times have changed indeed.

The American Express was a fun tournament to watch because a talented 20-year-old amateur earned a historic, improbable win. The brand of golf itself was not particularly compelling or demanding, and it serves as a prime example of how much golf has changed with modern athletes swinging modern equipment. Like the tour players of 40 years ago, I may start a petition to remove PGA West from the PGA Tour schedule, not because it is too severe but because it no longer has the teeth to stand up to the modern game. Or, I don’t know, maybe we could roll the golf ball back and shrink driver heads so that shot value and consequence are reintroduced to professional golf.

This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.