Smell the freshly cut grass and feel the reassuring weight of the new carbon fibre driver in your hand, as the sunlight winks through the trees on the first tee. That’s right, you’ve guessed it, golf season is here and it’s time to once again embark on one of the most frustrating, yet rewarding, adventures around! No matter how skilled you are in the ancient game, it is still informative and inspiring to watch top professionals in action. The golf major championship season is underway, so check out our rough guide to what’s happened already and what we can expect going forward!
The Masters Tournament – Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia, 6th – 9th April
El Niño is all grown up now! Sergio Garcia was long regarded as one of the finest golfers never to have won a major but that all changed this year at Augusta. The Spaniard, 37, was tied with Ryder Cup teammate Justin Rose on nine under after day four of golf’s prestige event, setting up a sudden death playoff on the 18th. Rose could only bogey, meaning that Garcia’s eagle landed him the prized title and accompanying green jacket, only the third Spaniard to ever do so. It was even more fitting that he achieved it on, what would have been, compatriot Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday. Sergio acknowledged this, saying “To do it on his birthday and to join him and Olazabal, my two idols in golf in my whole life, it’s something amazing.”
U.S. Open – Erin Hills, Erin, Wisconsin, 15th – 18th June
Erin Hills, established in 2006 and designed by Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Ron Whitten, is an entirely new U.S. Open venue. The event usually relies on more tried and trusted courses, so it says a lot that Erin Hills was selected. Set amid the rolling farmland countryside of Wisconsin, in the famous Kettle Moraine, the course will throw up a few challenges, even for the more experienced professional. Although it may look as though it plays long, don’t be deceived. A plethora of potholes (kettles) and ridges (moraines), caused by glacial drift, mean someone with a skilled short game could take the title. Keep your eye on the precise club control and lofted wedges of Jimmy Walker, Hideki Matsuyama and modern legend Phil Mickelson.
Open Championship – Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport 20th – 23rd July
Royal Birkdale, established in 1889, was first added to the Open rota back in 1954, and since then has hosted the famous old event nine times, the tenth edition falling in 2017. Widely regarded as England’s finest links course, Royal Birkdale lies along valleys flanked by countless intimidating dunes, part of an army of bunkers guaranteed to provide a stiff challenge to the world’s best. Don’t expect any leniency from the par threes, and the par four on the 18th, playing back towards the striking white art deco clubhouse, is a potential banana skin for anyone not right at the top of their game. Experience will be key here. Expect tour regulars like Jason Day, Charl Schwartzel and Henrik Stenson to challenge.
The PGA Championship – Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, N.Carolina 17th – 20th August
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of 2016 winner Jimmy Walker, who triumphed at Baltusrol, golf’s brightest and best arrive at the charmingly named Quail Hollow Club in the third week of August. Set in gorgeous Piedmont, between the Atlantic coast and the Appalachian Mountains, the course reflects the region, characterised by undulating hills, verdant greenery and rolling cloud formations. With narrow greens and water hazards that hug many of the holes (including the 17th which necessitates a 200-yard carry), Quail Hollow will require steady hands, a solid skillset and nerves of steel. World number one Dustin Johnson and his closest rival Rory McIlroy should be in the mix on the final day.
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