- Farrell Evans, Golf
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For the first time in the 95-year history of the PGA Championship, fans will play a role in the course setup for the tournament, which starts Aug. 8 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.
In the "Pick the Hole Challenge" sponsored by the PGA of America, fans may vote on one of four pin positions for the final round for the par-3, 181-yard 15th hole, the last par-3 on the 7,145-yard par-71 Donald Ross course.
Voting began Tuesday at PGA.com.
The 15th is a downhill setup with two bunkers on the left side and water on the right of a narrow green. This hole was chosen because of its importance as a closing hole in the tournament and the plethora of challenging pin locations.
According to Kerry Haigh, the chief championships officer for the PGA of America, there isn't an easy pin position on the hole.
Jack Nicklaus, who won the last of his five PGA Championships in 1980 at Oak Hill, conceived the idea to involve fans in the pin-placement process.
"The chance for golf fans to interact with the PGA Championship and play a role in shaping the outcome of the final round fascinates me," Nicklaus said in a statement. "It's like being able to call the shots during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl."
Course setup is generally the sole domain of the competition or championship committee at all professional golf tournaments.
At the PGA of America, Haigh oversees course setup for the PGA, the Ryder Cup, the Senior PGA and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
"A big part of this is not only to enhance participation and interests among golf fans worldwide," Haigh said, "but also to educate fans, spectators and non-golfers of the information that the best players in the world have when they stand on the tee with their hole sheet and yardage book and all the factors that they are considering for the shot."
Haigh hopes the contest gives fans valuable insight into the challenges of course setup in major championship golf.
"Our aim is to challenge the players and to make them think, but also make sure that it's fair and good shots are rewarded," he said. "It's a delicate balance. In setting those hole locations, you want to give a variety of front, back, left and right so that players have to think their way around the course and not be able to just stand up and hit it. Creating that fair and challenging test creates excitement."
Voting ends at the close of the third round of the season's final major on Aug 10.