Atlanta Athletic Club as venue for PGA Championship
This 2011 PGA Championship will be the fifth major and fourth men’s major to be played at Atlanta Athletic Club since 1976. That year, Jerry Pate hit a fabled 5-iron out of rough, over water and onto a peninsula green to claim victory on the Highlands Course in the U.S. Open by 2 strokes over Al Geiberger and the Greg Norman-of-the-day, Tom Weiskopf. Five years later, the great Larry Nelson left Georgia with his first of two PGA Championships (he would win it again in 1987), a four-stroke victory over Fuzzy Zoeller. The 1990 U.S. Women’s Open was played over the club’s second golf course (Riverside). Betsy King won by a slim shot over Patty Sheehan. The wait for a fourth major was a long one (11 years) until 2001, when David Toms made smart, strategic golf front-page news. His 72nd hole lay-up, pitch and one-putt secured a one-stroke margin of victory over the King of Risk-Reward, Phil Mickelson.
The 2011 PGA Championship will be played over a refurbished Highlands Course. The holes remain the same, but the greens have been reseeded with a heartier bermuda strain, one that withstands the heat and pressures of a Georgia summer. Weather will factor in, as afternoon thunderstorms are predicted for three of the four tournament days. Finally, the height of the rough will determine who has a shot at the greens on this 7613-yard course with a 77.0 (non-major championship!) rating.
Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands Course has seen its share of artists. The original nines were created by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. (back nine in the 1960s), Joe Lee (front nine in the 19970s) and a refurbishing by Rees Jones in preparation for this event. For a tour of the course, click here.
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