When Dustin Johnson arrives at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course for the PGA Championship, he won't have to worry about reading the local rules regarding the bunkering at the seaside course. Two years removed from his bunker mishap on the final hole of regulation during the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, that cost him a spot in a playoff, the final major of the year is returning to a course that's once again littered with "sandy areas."
With the major championship still a couple weeks away, PGA of America officials had time to get the local rules in order. But in an effort to ensure a Johnson issue doesn't happen again at Kiawah, they announced on Wednesday that all sandy areas on the course will be considered "through the green" and not designated as bunkers.
"With the unique topography of The Ocean Course, natural sandy areas spread throughout the entire property, The PGA of America Rules Committee has determined that all of these areas will be treated alike and played as through the green" PGA of America President Allen Wronowski said. "We believe that by establishing the Condition of Play for the 94th PGA Championship well in advance of the Championship it will help players and spectators prepare for this spectacular Major Championship experience."
What exactly does that mean for guys in the field? It means if your ball happens to find the sand, you'll be allowed to move loose impediments, take practice swings and ground your club. Hope you caught that last part, Dustin.
While this may come as a surprise to some, the decision to treat the areas as such isn't new to The Ocean Course. The very same Condition of Play was in effect at the 1991 Ryder Cup, 2005 PGA Professional National Championship and the 2007 Senior PGA Championship.
If you're wondering how a course could play all sandy areas as "through the green," it's because, as the PGA of America noted, "the sand is natural to the surrounding terrain and in many cases there is no clear definition of where such sandy areas stop and start."
So there you have it, folks. If you happen to be watching the coverage on TV in a couple weeks and see Dustin Johnson or any other guy in the field grounding their club in the sand, don't bother picking up the phone to call in a violation. The PGA of America already has the situation covered.
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