The BWD Major Tournament Hole of the Day: The 17th at Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower Course), Home of the PGA Championship

Tournament: PGA Championship – Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, NJ
Hole: 17th – Par 5, 649 Yards
Architect(s): A. W. Tillinghast – 1918
Robert Trent Jones, Sr. (renovation) – 1948
Rees Jones (renovation) – 1992

Architectural Summary:

Baltusrol’s first par 5 is the lengthy 649 yard 17th hole which sets up a unique back-to-back par 5 finish providing drama down the stretch. A true three shot par 5, only the longest hitters will even attempt to go for the green in two. From the tee, players must execute an accurate drive through a narrow chute of mature trees while avoiding the first of the hole’s 12 bunkers located to the left of the fairway at 300 yards. A strong drive will set up a second shot where players must carry the cluster of cross bunkers at 400 yards. A majority of the field will be laying up, so competitors will look to challenge the final left fairway bunker for an open look into the green. An uphill wedge approach will be the reward for two well-executed shots. The back-right to front-left sloped green contains an enlarged ramp, a distinctive Tillinghast design feature, and is surrounded by six bunkers – four fronting the putting surface and two to the left. Given the length of the hole, the green is relatively small, measuring 35 yards deep and 24 yards wide.

Statistical Analysis:

During the last PGA Championship in 2005, the hole played to a scoring average of 4.93 (1 Eagle, 66 Birdies, 203 Pars, 45 Bogeys, and 1 Double Bogeys).

Fun Facts:

  • During championship play, an oddity of Baltusrol is that the only par 5s are the 17th and 18th.
  • Jack Nicklaus sank a 22-foot birdie on Baltusrol’s 17th to maintain his one-shot lead in 1980 U.S. Open as he won his 16th major championship at age 40. Nicklaus also broke the U.S. Open scoring record with an 8-under 272.
  • In 1993, John Daly became the first player to reach the 17th green in two shots. During the second round of the U.S. Open, Daly hit a 325-yard drive to the fairway to then manage a 305 yard “0-iron” shot that would bounce out of the rough to land within 45 feet of the pin on the green.