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PGA Professionals shed light on what to expect

PGA Professionals who played Black Horse Bayonet in 2012 shed light on what to expect

What do PGA Professionals who will be competing in the 2018 PGA Professional Championship think about Bayonet Black Horse? Here is what several alumni from the 2012 PGA Professional Championship are saying.

Marty Jertson, PGA, senior design engineer at Ping, Phoenix, Arizona; tied for 7th in 2012:

“Bayonet and Black Horse require a sound strategy and mental fortitude to survive. The diverse mix of holes on both courses holds your interest and provides a tremendous challenge. In looking back at 2012, it is crucially important to drive the ball long and exploit the par 5s. The par 3s and par 4s are so challenging on both courses, that you must be very patient and try to plot away at pars on those holes. Hitting a lot of greens on the long and challenging par 3s will be important. These courses are ball-strikers courses, combined with a robust aiming strategy.

My favorite holes: On Bayonet, the par-3 17th is incredible – and the back pin over the bunker on the final round proved to be a pivotal hole down the stretch. On Black Horse, the drivable sixth hole, which I eagled during my second-round 68 en route to a 10-shot turnaround from Round 1 to Round 2. I would love to see the PPC played at Bayonet Black Horse every year because I think the group of players who get through a course like this have a good chance to do well at a PGA Championship, primarily because of the important of driving and distance. This course gives a big advantage to a power player, which is required at the PGA Championship. When you combine that with the weather, surrounding, amenities and everything else about the Monterey Peninsula, how can you go wrong?”

Rob Labritz, PGA Director of Golf, GlenArbor Golf Club, Bedford Hills, N.Y.; competed in 2012:

“Very cool golf courses. I remember Bayonet being very challenging with some nice risk and reward holes. When I competed at Bayonet Black Horse, I was given some bad news of my mother having lung cancer, so the week was a bit of a blur. But I am looking forward to returning, since the golf courses were in immaculate condition. I have played in 10 PGA Professional Championships, and my goal is to win it some day.”

Devin Gee, PGA Head Professional, Oakmont (Pennsylvania) Country Club; competed in 2012:

“From 2012, I recall the spectacular ocean views from so many of the holes on both courses. Bayonet is a very challenging but fair course. Both courses are great second-shot golf courses. You are required to negotiate elevation changes, firm greens and sea-level breezes, which make distance control very important.

“For me, I will focus on mid- to long irons prior to the Championship. I am not one of the longest hitters, so I will need control over that part of my bag to compete. The courses are big and challenging, but it will be advantageous to return to a venue we have already played.”

Rob McClellan, PGA Head Professional, Oakview Golf Club, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; tied for 36th in 2012:

“I think this venue is a driver’s course. Matt Dobyns won in 2012 by eight shots and he is one of the longer PGA Club Professionals. I learned in 2012 that tee shots were key, and keeping them in play gives you plenty of scoring opportunities. The pars 5s on Bayonet are where you need to get your birdies. I remember pars were good scores on most holes.

“Both courses were tough and even par for four rounds was close to a top-10 finish. Tee shots were very demanding and crucial for scoring well. The second hole on Bayonet was one of the toughest tee shots all week. It is a long, narrow par 4 with a difficult green. No. 12 was the toughest hole, a long uphill dogleg left par 4.

“These are great national championship courses.”

Jason Schmuhl, PGA Head Professional, Windsor Golf Club, Windsor, Calif.; tied for 50th in 2012:

“Bayonet and Black Horse are two of my favorite courses. Both courses are challenging but fair. Bayonet is a driver’s course and Black Horse is a second-shot and putting course. I have learned to be patient on these courses. The scores will not be low. Par is a good score on most of the holes.

“My favorite holes are No. 13 on Bayonet and No. 6 on Black Horse. The courses are challenging because they are demanding off the tee and the firmness of the greens make the approach shots difficult. My goal is always to qualify for the PGA Championship. The PGA Professional Championship venues are always great and the Championship is conducted like a tour event.”

Rod Perry, PGA Head Professional, Crane Lakes Golf & Country Club, Port Orange, Florida; tied for second in 2012:

“I love both courses. The Bayonet and Black Horse courses are public golf at its finest on a beautiful piece of property. It’s always difficult to make the switch from course to course in Monterey. The ball just doesn’t fly all that well and you have to adjust your distances. The air can get quite heavy that time of year. The driver is key on both courses. The player who drives the ball really well has a huge advantage.

“Bayonet is simply not the kind of course you score on if you’re not in position off the tee. Length of the tee is a big advantage, as it takes some of the fairway bunkers out of play and leaves the player who can hit it long much shorter irons into the greens. The hole that stands out the most to me is the second hole on the Bayonet Course. It’s just such a demanding tee shot. 

“I can’t wait to get back there.”

Doug Wade, PGA Head Professional, Sugar Valley Golf Club, Bellbrook, Ohio; tied for 15th in 2012:

Our PGA Professional Championship is very special and Bayonet and Black Horse are championship courses in every aspect. It’s great when you know all of your club members are rooting for you and watching. Having the Golf Channel there adds a whole new excitement. In 2012, I remember how perfect the weather was every day, how fun of a walk it was, and how firm the greens were.

“There are a lot of great holes on both courses, but the one that really sticks out to me is No. 13 on the Bayonet. It is arguably the most difficult par 4 on the course, and I was fortunate to play it 2-under, which was a huge bonus. The one shot that sticks out to me is the tee shot on No. 2. Not many tighter tee shots in the world.

“The driver is important on the Bayonet course. There are a lot of holes with fairway traps around 280 off the tees. The longer hitters can carry those and some of the shorter hitters then have to hit fairway woods off the tees to stay short of them. If you’re driving it long and straight, you can really get after it. Playing in 2012 is going to really help just by giving me the confidence to pull the right club, especially on the par 3s.”

John Seltzer, PGA Head Professional, Blythefield Country Club, Grand Rapids, Michigan; tied for 56th in 2012:

“My memories of Bayonet and Black Horse is that they are extremely tough golf courses, maybe the most difficult of the PGA Professional Championship courses I’ve played. The par-4 12th on Bayonet isn’t a particularly hard hole, but the toughest walk from tee to green that I can remember.

“Strategically, I’ll be focusing on finding the fairway. Both of these golf courses put a premium on the tee shot and if you’re having a tough time finding the fairway, it’s going to be a short week. I think players will need to be able to move the golf ball both ways to succeed. The green complexes, from what I can remember, are difficult and to get the ball close to the hole you’ll have to control your shot shape. In 2012, I remember the greens being very firm and since we are at sea level, the ball wasn’t flying as far as I’m used to.

“This Championship is our ‘major.’ It gives us, the PGA Professional, an opportunity to show the country that we can play the game and play it at a high level. What makes the PGA Professional Championship so challenging is that we spend almost all of our time making sure that our members or customers are having great golf experiences. There is a lot of work and time to making sure that happens. The least amount of time that we spend is working on our own games. So playing against our Association’s best players, on supremely tough layouts and for many of us in the middle of our busy season, makes for a very tough event to play well.”

Don Berry, PGA Head Professional, Edinburgh USA Golf Club, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota; played in 2012 and 2016:

“I’ve had the chance to play at Bayonet and Black Horse a few different times, and I remember how challenging it is and how great the area is – it’s an iconic area for golf. 

“My favorite holes on Bayonet are No. 2 and No. 13, which are great par 4s with plenty of scenery. On Black Horse, I really like 10 and 11. You get to the highest point of the course and good views from there. The uphill holes play especially long, since the ball doesn’t go very far there. All facets of the course play hard. Driving is important. You just can’t play from the rough. The short game is important also, because everyone is going to miss their share of greens so you better chip and putt well.”

Tim Fries, PGA Owner-General Manager, Glen Oak Golf Club, East Amherst, New York; competed in 2012 and competed in the 2016 Senior PGA Professional Championship:

“These courses are spectacular and to host 312 competitors is daunting – not many locations can pull this off with such great success. Being fortunate enough to compete multiple times at Bayonet Black Horse allows me to say mixing up the venues is such a great opportunity to travel the country and see these wonderful facilities. Being able to come back after playing once or twice before certainly affords a ‘comfort’ level of knowing and feeling success previously – it makes the heart beat a little less and that first tee shot just a little bit easier.

“The most challenging holes are two par 4s – the second and 13th holes on Bayonet demand solid, straight, long tee shots with precise approach shots and exact yardage to the proper shelf on the greens. No. 11 on Black Horse is the same, a challenging second shot uphill.

“The par-3 17th on Bayonet is probably my favorite because of the tremendous downhill challenge to get the yardage correct if the wind is blowing.”

Jim Estes, PGA Director of Instruction, Olney Golf Park, Olney, Maryland; tied for 29th in 2012:

“As a senior, I feel blessed to still get to compete in the PGA Professional Championship, and it will be fun to return to Bayonet Black Horse. Instruction is my source of income, and playing and practicing is limited. But I look forward to the challenge of playing against the best players in the country.

“Two holes from Bayonet that are difficult are the par-3 17th and the par-4 second hole. No. 17 is downhill and tough to pull the correct club. No. 2 is a tight driving hole with a tough, undulating green. The second hole on Black Horse is an extremely long and tough par 3. It can play 247 from all the way back. Par is a great score. The 13th is a challenging 460-yard hole that is both challenging off the tee and on the approach.

“Length off the tee is an asset if you can keep it in play on both courses. Approach shots have to be kept under the hole, so distance control is imperative.”
 

This story originally appeared in the June 2018 edition of PGA Magazine.