World’s Best Are Back at Baltusrol

The PGA Championship returns to the Springfield course July 25 to 31.

The clubhouse at Baltusrol, where the world’s top golfers—including defending champion Jason Day—will compete for the PGA Championship’s Wanamaker Trophy.
The clubhouse at Baltusrol, where the world’s top golfers—including defending champion Jason Day—will compete for the PGA Championship’s Wanamaker Trophy.
Photo courtesy of PGA of America

When Phil Mickelson sank his birdie putt on the final hole at Baltusrol Golf Club to win the 2005 PGA Championship, Jordan Spieth was 12 years old. Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day were teenagers.

The PGA returns to the Springfield course July 25 to 31. This time Mickelson will likely contend with those kids—now golf’s exciting new generation of superstars. “Most of the best players in the world, the ones in their 20s, have not competed at Baltusrol,” says Ryan T. Cannon, championship director for the 2016 PGA Championship, one of golf’s four majors.

Hosting the tournament reinforces Baltusrol’s place among the classic golf clubs. Founded in 1895, Baltusrol boasts two courses designed by the legendary A.W. Tillinghast. Today, the club—one of four on the National Register of Historic Places—has some 1,400 members, about 500 of whom will volunteer at the tournament, which comprises three days of practice rounds and four championship rounds. More than 200,000 spectators are expected.

“We try our best to limit the disruption on the host community,” says Cannon. Preparations began three years ago; construction of tournament infrastructure, including viewing stands and hospitality areas, began in May. Five municipalities—Springfield, Mountainside, Millburn, Summit and Clark—are involved in the traffic and parking plan. The state police coordinates security with local, county and federal forces, as well as private security firms.

It’s a massive effort, but, says Rick Jenkins, Baltusrol’s volunteer general chairman for the event, “the entire region ultimately wins.” Cannon estimates the economic impact at about $100 million.

The championship is played on the Lower Course, which required some adjustments for today’s heavy hitters. Holes 13 and 15 were lengthened, some tees realigned, and trees were removed on several holes to “open up lines of play,” Jenkins explains. Among the holes to watch: the par-3 fourth, which requires a 200-yard tee shot over water to a two-tiered green; and the back-to-back par 5s at holes 17 and 18.

At this writing, all four days of the tournament were sold out, but tickets for the practice rounds were available at pgachampionship.com; practice-round prices start at $25.

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