In this edition of Fried Egg Guides, Gil Hanse joins to discuss the work he and his team did at Southern Hills Country Club, what he enjoys most about Perry Maxwell’s design, and what we should watch for as the pros play it in the PGA Championship.
Designed by Maxwell in the 1930s, the Tulsa, Oklahoma course has grown into a world-renowned major championship venue. It has hosted seven major championships to date, three U.S. Opens and four PGA Championships. It will host its eighth for the 2022 PGA Championship. But while Southern Hills is no stranger to major championship golf, the 2022 edition will look remarkably different from the 2007 PGA, the last major it hosted.
This Maxwell recently underwent a detailed historical renovation by Hanse Golf Course Design. The renovation focused on restoring fairway widths and returning the greens and their edges to their original selves. What used to be a narrow, tree-lined course with uniform bunker edging is now more open, allowing the property’s rolling terrain to shine. Much of the original design has been brought back to life, with some infusions to test the modern player.
Tasked with bringing back the brilliance of the natural landscape at Southern Hills, Hanse, Jim Wagner, and their crew went to work. Creeks were restored, trees removed, fairways expanded, and many green edges were redone to remove years of additional sand build up. These changes are evident on many holes on the course, but they stick out most clearly on Nos. 10, 17, and 18, holes that will play a pivotal role in determining the 2022 PGA champion.
Hanse thinks that the tournament will come down to the greens, which will have a new impact thanks to his team’s restoration efforts. Their work focused on restoring the false edges to the greens. Those changes coupled with fairway grass around the greens will lead to balls repelling away from the target if they miss or are imprecise going for a tucked flag. Hanse expects less “predictable outcomes” because of the short grass that can send a ball tumbling 20 to 30 yards away in some cases.
A hole at Southern Hills called out by Hanse is the 10th, which underwent significant changes in the renovation. The hole offers two lines, left and right, with the left gaining a better angle into the green. That line, however, will have to confront the restored creek. The green features a treacherous restored edge on the left, which can send a ball 30 yards away.
The closing stretch should produce dramatic golf. Hanse walks us through a little bit on each of the last four holes. The 15th has an underrated green that he called “nightmarish.” The long par-4 16th features spectacular topography and a small green for such a long par-4. Next comes the short par-4 17th, and Hanse outlines the multiple different options for play. Closing out the round is the brute par-4 18th playing up to the grand Southern Hills clubhouse. So you’ll get a compelling closing stretch for a major like the PGA, with two short par-4s that offer scoring opportunities and two long par-4s where you simply try to “hold on.”
MORE PGA COVERAGE FROM THE FRIED EGG
- The Restoration: Southern Hills and the future of championship golf
- A PGA Primer on the traits and challenges of Southern Hills
- Paulie’s Picks: Attributes and players to consider for the PGA
- What to Know About Perry Maxwell: The life, work, and philosophy of the architect behind Southern Hills
- Oklahoma and Maxwell-themed T-shirts for the 2022 PGA