Let there be no confusion: there will be no bunkers at next month’s PGA Championship.
The PGA of America sent a release to the prospective field on Tuesday saying every sandy area of The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island will be considered a waste area for the PGA Championship from Aug. 9-12, according to Golf Channel.
The official term is “sandy areas,” but implies players can ground their club in them, remove loose impediments and take practice swings – all actions forbidden in bunkers. The areas will be raked each day by grounds staff, like a bunker would be.
Two years ago at the PGA Championship, every “sandy area” at Whistling Straits was considered a bunker. Dustin Johnson’s ignorance of that local rule kept him out of a playoff with Bubba Watson and eventual champion Martin Kaymer.
The Ocean Course, however, lays on surroundings which make it hard to differentiate where a bunker ends and nature begins.
As recently as March, the PGA of America said publicly it was uncertain how it would choose to define – or not define – bunkers.
The PGA of America has done this before at this venue, including at the 1991 Ryder Cup and 2007 Senior PGA Championship.
A similar ruling is anticipated when the U.S. Open arrives at the renovated Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014. Any sandy area not completely enclosed by grass will be considered a waste area.