The BWD Major Tournament Hole of the Day: The 4th at Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower Course), Home of the PGA Championship

Tournament: PGA Championship – Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, NJ
Hole: 4th – Par 3, 196 Yards
Architect(s): A. W. Tillinghast – 1918
Robert Trent Jones, Sr. (renovation) – 1948
Rees Jones (renovation) – 1992

Architectural Summary:

The first par 3 that competitors will encounter on Baltusrol’s Lower Course is the “Famous Fourth.” The par 3 measures 196 yards and will require players to play all of the yardage in the air as the pond stretches from the tee to just 2 feet from the front of the green. Four bunkers protect the very large green, which measures roughly 30 yards deep and 45 yards wide, with one to the left of the green as well as a trio of rear bunkers. The rear greenside bunkers will be a likely bailout spot for competitors looking to avoid the pond, though a difficult recovery shot will be faced as the green slopes strongly back-to-front towards the pond. Three putts are a likely possibility as the two-tiered green features a multitude of pin placements and significant undulation in the middle section. Hole location and wind direction will dictate club selection on the course’s shortest par 3, but many players will select a mid to long-iron. Hole locations at the front-right section of the green will likely be the most difficult as it requires an additional 5 yards of carry distance due to a small cove in the pond that the green shape and retaining wall react too. Historically playing slightly above par, the 4th hole will test the accuracy of competitors early in the round.

Statistical Analysis:

During the last PGA Championship in 2005, the hole played to a scoring average of 3.02 (1 Eagle, 50 Birdies, 215 Pars, 41 Bogeys, and 9 Double Bogeys).

Fun Facts:

  • Robert Trent Jones Sr. renovated the Lower Course ahead of the 1954 Open where he lengthened the 4th hole along with expanding the tee and building a back ledge to the putting green. After Baltusrol members complained the hole was too severe, Jones took a group to the new tee and made a hole-in-one with a 4-iron to silence his critics. Jones then remarked, “Gentlemen, I think the hole is eminently fair.”
  • Audubon International has designated the Baltusrol Golf Club a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.