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Local Knowledge with PGA Head Professional Dave Bryan
Who better to tell us about Southern Hills Country Club, site of the 89th PGA Championship, than PGA Head Professional Dave Bryan. In this major championship edition of Local Knowledge, Bryan talks about how to play the famed Tulsa layout.
PGA.com: Dave, Southern Hills seems to be the epitome of a major championship course. This PGA Championship will be the seventh major championship held there and fourth PGA Championship. What is so special about your course?
Bryan: Our course makes for a great championship layout in part because it is so timeless. It has stood the test of time and provides a great test for the world's best players regardless of what happens in golf with regards to technology and equipment. Obviously, there's great history here and that is another appeal. But even more, I think that people recognize and appreciate the community support of Tulsa, the great facilities and clubhouse, the support of the membership, things like that also make Southern Hills a great venue for major championships.
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PGA.com: I've read that Southern Hills is one of the courses that aren't particularly friendly to the power hitters, that it is in fact, the ultimate strategic course. How do you feel about that statement?
Bryan: Well, about half of the holes here dogleg one way or the other, so there definitely is an element to playing to the corners instead of just bombing it down as far as you can. The test of the course is to be patient, not force the score, but to take what it gives you. So in that regard, I'd say the statement is fair.
PGA.com: There have been some changes made since the last major championship (the 2001 U.S. Open) at your course, right?
Bryan: I think saying that the course has been "improved" is more accurate. We've put all new grass in, from tee to green. We've replaced some of the bunkers, added some length to the course, just some adjustments to make sure that we are in prime condition to provide a fair but challenging test to the world's best players.
PGA.com: Your course is consistently ranked high in the list of "best golf courses in America" by various publications. Do you pay attention to the rankings? Are they important to you and/or your membership?
Bryan: It's always nice to be recognized and thought highly of when you have such an outstanding facility. I do look over the lists and I'm sure our members take pride in being part of such a respected club. I don't know how you'd go about ranking courses and assigning a number to them - especially when you're talking about some of the greatest courses in the country. So I don't concern myself as much about if we rank 15th, 20th, 30th, whatever, it is nice to be a part of the conversation though.
PGA.com: If one of the TOUR players or one of your fellow PGA Professionals came to you before the tournament and asked for some advice, what would you tell them?
Bryan: Don't short-side yourself out here. Play to keep the ball below the hole. And I think part of that would be to keep the ball in play off the tee.
PGA.com: Your son works with you here at the golf course. That's certainly a bit unusual. How has that worked out?
Bryan: It's been great! David does most of the teaching here. He's been here working at the course since, wow, since he has been old enough to be productive. Whether it was an hour here or there when he was young to long days in the summer, he's always loved spending time here. It was his decision to enter the golf business, but I'm glad he did. It's really been great.
PGA.com: As noted earlier, this will be the fourth PGA Championship at Southern Hills, all of them held since 1970. Ever have a problem with one of your members shooting a low round and demanding a replica Wanamaker Trophy?
Bryan: [laughs]. No, there's not too many low rounds out there.