Confidential: Do majors lose any of their luster when played at regular Tour stops?

August 10, 2017

Quail Hollow has been toughened-up since it last hosted the PGA Tour in 2016. But it still looks and feels more or less the same. Do majors lose any of their special sauce when conducted at regular Tour stops?

Josh Sens: Absolutely they do. Already today, my inbox has been filled with emails from golf-fan friends commenting on the too familiar look and feel of the event. Granted, they’re not on the grounds. They’re watching on TV, but that’s how most people will be taking in the action. And I wager that’s how most are reacting, too. It’s early yet, of course, and with the right mix of players in the hunt on the weekend, there’s still the possibility of the kind of electricity we look for in a major. But if it’s Chris Stroud and Thorbjorn Olesen dueling down the stretch, some of us might be tempted to switch over to One Life to Live.

Michael Bamberger: The course is excellent. One of the best I’ve ever seen for a PGA Championship. I predict three more days of golfing fun.

Alan Bastable: Not every major can be at Oakmont or Shinny. QH is legit, and terrific for fans. The final four holes run more or less parallel to one another, which is perfect for hole-hopping. Can’t wait for Sunday — with the fearsome 16th, 17th and 18th playing a combined 1.5 strokes over par Thursday, the finishing kick should be a blast, in a masochistic sort of way.    

Alan Shipnuck: The problem is that Quail Hollow in August is pretty similar to Quail Hollow in May. Pebble’s Tour stop is during the colder, wetter winter months. For the Open it’s reborn as a firm, fast, fiery test with much tougher pins because there are no amateurs to worry about, so it plays vastly different. Not so with Quail Hollow.

Sean Zak: Alan is right. This place feels like it does at all times. Anyone who throws their tee shot on 18 into the creek will only join a long list of guys who did that against relatively middling fields. It’s hard to make this venue feel significant (especially on Day 1) if it’s something we already know pretty well. Some fireworks from a great final pairing Sunday could change our thoughts, I think, but only slightly.

Jeff Ritter: Yeah, it feels like we’re lacking some juice. I think the course boredom is magnified because the last two major venues offered so much: Birkdale is obviously a classic, and Erin Hills, while ultimately too soft, provided layers of intrigue to that championship. So far this week, the golf course isn’t adding much to the story.

Joe Passov: It’s always a letdown for me when a regular PGA Tour venue winds up as host to a major — except when that venue is Pebble Beach. But I’ll admit that with all the changes Tom Fazio brought to Quail Hollow over the past 20 years, it has exuded “major” feel all along. It’s a really unusual layout in that it sports many classic, if broad-shouldered rolling holes amid hardwoods (think old school) with a fistful of holes that roll out modern bells and whistles, via greens jabbed out into lakes and that sinister creek that frightens all who duel with the 18th. I’ll disagree with a few of my colleagues and say this isn’t your mid-May Wells Fargo Quail Hollow. Holes have changed, grasses are different, greens are much firmer, with new reads. It’s not my preference, but from what Quail Hollow looked and played like today, it’s major-worthy by me.

Josh Berhow: Majors definitely lose some of their steam when they are played at regular stops, but it largely depends on the course. At Quail, the history is a bonus. Rory’s won here twice, Rickie once, and Phil’s finished top 10 here a bazillion times. That creates some pre-tourney buzz. Can’t really say that about Baltusrol or Whistling Straits PGA.