Big, bigger, biggest, biggester. Everything has to be the biggesterest in America. There’s a Stars and Stripes flag fluttering outside my hotel room the size of a tennis court. The ice-creams are as big as house bricks. The cars are as big as trucks. The trucks are as big as trains. The trains are…you get the picture.
And Hazeltine golf course in the longest in Major championship history, weighing in at a ludicrous 7,674 yards. And the PGA of America is handsomely proud of its bigness. Geoff Ogilvy isn’t. “Looking forward to playing a Major one day that doesn’t promote itself as the longest ever,” said the 2006 US Open champion. It does seem that golf’s championship committees have embarked on a macho testosterone war. You know, “My dad’s got a bigger car than your dad.” The previous owner of bragging rights to the longest Major course ever was 2004 USPGA course Whistling Straits, tipping the scales at 7,536 yards. Next year’s PGA returns to Whistling Straits. Bet they’re already buying up the neighbouring real estate to put Hazeltine back in its place.
But this year, there are three par 5s over 600 yards for the first time in a Major. “I noticed that. It’s kind of funny,” said medium-hitter Jim Furyk. He was being ironic. Then how’s this for showing how tough those PGA Blazer guys are: the 518-yards par-4 12th is the longest par 4 in Major championship history and the 13th is the longest ever par 3 at 248 yards. They come sandwiched between the 606-yard, par-5 11th and the, wait for it, 642-yard, par-5 15th. It’s exhausting just typing those numbers.
“We’re probably going to have an 8,000-yards course,” Furyk said. “That’s just the fad today. You know, longer, longer, longer is better. But longer doesn’t necessarily make it better.” Lee Westwood agrees. “We’re in the entertainment industry,” he said. “I would rather watch people make birdies than hacking out of the rough and making bogey. How about you? You’re maybe sadistic, I don’t know.” Tell that to the PGA Big is Best fetishists.
The only thing we Brits have at Hazeltine that can compete in the Big is Beautiful Heavyweight Contest bigger is, ahem, Colin Montgomerie. Europe’s Ryder Cup captain has piled on the pounds again to reveal a middle-aged belly overhang that suggests he has been enjoying rather too many executive lunches lately while schmoozing the International Olympic Committee into allowing golf into the Games in 2016. Big, quite frankly, is not always beautiful.