News & Opinion

Sandy areas will be no day at the beach during PGA

Shane Lowry practices before 2021 PGA Championship
Ireland’s Shane Lowry plays from a sandy waste area during practice for this week’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island (S.C.) Resort’s Ocean Course.

All 30 acres of Ocean Course's sandy areas will be played as waste areas, not bunkers, officials announce, and with a catch: no rakes

Thirty acres of sand will lie in wait for errant shots this week during the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, but play as waste areas and not bunkers, the PGA of America announced Wednesday.

The rule has been in place for each PGA tournament held at the South Carolina resort, but with one big difference for the 103rd PGA: no rakes.

In past tournaments, all sandy areas were raked before the start of play, and bunker rakes were available to smooth footprints and divots throughout the competition. This year, the resort’s policy of removing rakes to reduce a touchpoint for potential transmission of COVID-19 will continue.

“As we have in previous championships, the sandy areas will not be bunkers, and we've notified all the players of that,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s chief championships officer. “So, players will be able to take practice swings out of the sand areas. It's part of the general area. But if a ball is embedded in that sand, there is no relief from the loose sand. We've notified the players and the caddies of that, and hopefully they're plenty aware of it as they were at our previous championships.”

The other change for the PGA that will be visible to TV viewers will be the use of distance-measuring devices, commonly known as DMDs or rangefinders, a first at a PGA Championship.

Morning Read contributor Mike Purkey wrote about the move in Wednesday’s newsletter.

The Ocean Course is listed at 7,876 yards, which is the longest in PGA Championship history. The actual yardage each day is expected to vary, especially on holes that play into the wind.

Play begins at 7 a.m. EDT Thursday (for tee times, click here).

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