Bunkers protected by rough, a distortion of golf: Bethpage Black blasted in PGA Championship aftermath

The best golfer for the week won the PGA championship. But the course disfiguration makes it hard to know if he was the one who is capable of playing the best golf for the week.

Brooks Koepka went home with his fourth major last Sunday afternoon after successfully defending his PGA Championship title at Bethpage Black.

A back-nine stumble from Koepka and a brief surge from Dustin Johnson provided the liquored up New York crowd with the first real moment of excitement for the tournament played on a golf course set-up to favour the long and straight.

No surprises then that it was Koepka and Johnson who took part in the brief Sunday duel.

It wasn’t hard to see that the famously difficult Bethpage Black was manufactured by the PGA of America and greenkeepers to protect it from the might of the modern golfer.

Fairways resembled narrow paths as bunkers, formerly part of the short grass landing areas and strategy off the tee were confined to areas surrounded by deep rough.

It wasn’t just the fairway bunkers that were nestled among the deep stuff either. Bunkers that were once protecting tight pin locations on tricky greens were now being protected themselves by ankle-deep rough that ran within a few feet of the greens.

Landing in any of these bunkers was often a relief providing a much easier next shot for the any one of the 158-man PGA Championship field.

Clearly the best golfer for the week won. But the brutal rough and course disfiguration makes it hard to know if he was the one who is capable of playing the best golf.

It’s not surprising to hear a few golf pundits blast the set up of Bethpage Black golf course. And it’s perhaps not surprising to hear Mike Clayton say it best. Hear the snippet from Inside the Ropes podcast below. And below that, the full podcast.

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