Today's Golfer catches up with Douglas B.Steffen, the PGA Head Professional & Director of Golf at Baltusrol, ahead of the USPGA Championship.
Q: Where will the PGA be won or lost at Baltusrol?
A: It will ultimately be won or lost...on the first seven holes. The 1st and 7th holes are par 5's that have been converted to par 4's, and holes 5 and 6 are two of the toughest as they usually play into the wind.
If a player can get through the first seven holes at even par, they'll have a good chance of finishing under par for the round.
With that said, Baltusrol provides one of the greatest challenges of any Championship venue as it finishes with back-to-back par 5's. It's very possible that we'll see some lead changes in the final two holes.
Q: What do you need to do to play the course well?
A: To well on the course...you'll have to be a good driver. In addition to driving it long and straight, he'll also need to have good course management.
The fairways are a little bit wider than normal but the rough, with its three different layers, will present quite a challenge.
Q: Which will be the most important holes?
A: The three key holes will be...3, 7 and 17.
The 3rd will be a difficult driving hole as you can't see the landing area. The green is tricky and it undulates. The 7th hole presents a challenge as it's not only a par 5, that has been converted to a par 4, but it also has a dog leg right.
Finally, the 17th hole will be key as the bunker configurations make it very complex. A potential birdie can very easily turn into a double bogey.