Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Understanding "Sandy Areas" At The PGA Championship

Two words that you will hear ad nauseum this week at The PGA Championship:  sandy areas.  The PGA has (wisely) decided to play all of the bunkers as "sandy areas" instead of hazards this week.  Meaning?  None of the sand on the course will be considered a bunker within the meaning of the rules, so the players can take practice swings, remove loose impediments and ground their club.  The reason is because of the unique design of Pete Dye's masterpiece - sand, sand, everywhere.  The PGA did not want to have the players trying to figure out on their own which sandy areas were actually bunkers and which were not.

Many have incorrectly said that this is a reaction to Dustin Johnson's 18th hole debacle at Whistling Straits, when he grounded his club in a "bunker" that before his ball landed there, spectators were actually standing in.  But in fact, this is the same local rule that the PGA has put in place in its other major events held at Kiawah Island, including the 1991 Ryder Cup (famously dubbed as "The War by the Shore").

So when you see DJ ground his club in a bunker this week, don't rush to your phone to call the PGA and tattle tale - he is allowed this time.

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