Negativity has been flying about Bellerive, and we are guilty of throwing some of those snark bombs. It is the weekend of the season’s final major though, so let’s flip the script and go on a scavenger hunt for things we can enjoy about this PGA Championship, and its venue.
Photo Credit: PGA of America
+1 for the fans
While the green surrounds might typically be less than exciting, and some of the fairways a little bland, each is good for one important thing – watching golf. The backside of many the fairway and greenside bunkers flare higher than the front. While that might seem odd from an architectural perspective, they make for great spectator views from above the players. A similar effect can be found along the fairways, which are flat. The hills on each side give fans an unobstructed view of holes. The course is easy to get around, and there aren’t many corners that trap you into waiting for players to pass.
The raised backside of the bunkers at Bellerive
A sliver of strategy?
With the tee up, players are forced to make a decision on the 11th. Pat Perez told us there was little strategy to be found on the course. Everyone aims at the same spot and then tries to play darts with approach shots. But standing on the 11th tee, each player will have to decide whether to pull driver or lay-up. A drive left out to the right could find the pond and be a big mistake Sunday afternoon. With a good pin position, and hopefully some greens that dry up by Sunday, 11 could make for a quick moment of drama coming down the stretch.
Long-hitting Gary Woodland leads and is being chased by a group of superstars. Woodland would add his second win of 2018 and have a legitimate claim for a spot on the Ryder Cup team. Another player with Ryder Cup implications is Kevin Kisner (2nd). Kisner has been knocking on the door of a major, is this where he kicks it down. Rickie Fowler is in the mix (t3), prime position to finally capture his first major. Brooks Koepka (t3) could win his third major championship in his last five attempts, with only one career PGA Tour win. World number one Dustin Johnson could drastically change his legacy with a second major victory. Some other intriguing names in the mix include defending champion Justin Thomas, aging star Adam Scott, and young Europeans Jon Rahm and Thomas Pieters. The soaked course has brought an exciting group of players to the top and is shaping up for a shootout.
We witnessed the first par-2 in major championship history
Listen, Andy looked at the third hole from a glass half empty perspective. Here is an alternative point of view: we are always looking for golf courses and tournaments to change it up and think outside the box. The PGA Championship had the first ever, and tough par-2. The third played .587 strokes over par, giving up 64 pars (actually birdies) and 91 bogeys (actually pars). A birdie gets the crowd going regardless, while the 3rd hole’s complete lack of variance might be a disgrace, I’m sure the fans in the stands had a lot of fun.
This place is packed
I think everyone in the world is here. I even ran into my high school geometry teacher…from Florida! The event is sold out and the galleries for the final groups this weekend will be rows deep. One thing that this PGA has proven is St. Louis is a great town for professional golf. Bellerive has been packed every single day and from a business side, the event has been a tremendous success. Hopefully, the town can get a championship golf course that is on the same level as their fans, world class.