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Just Like My Package, Talk Surrounding Hazeltine National Is All About Its Increased Length


I don’t give a shit what my insurance company says, it wasn’t elective surgery.

But enough about me and my improved penis (for now). Now that the PGA Championship is off and running at Hazeltine National in lovely Chaska, Minnesota, much of the talk leading up to the tournament has surrounded how course architect Rees Jones, who assisted in the modification, added 314 yards to the course. Now, Hazeltine National will challenge players with an incredible 7,674 yards, up from 7,360 when it last hosted the PGA Championship in 2002.

Rich Beem, who won the PGA Championship last time it was at Hazeltine, jokingly said, “I hope Mr. Jones doesn’t take this offensively, but I think Mr. Jones went down to every tee box and looked down every fairway and turned around 180 degrees and just started walking,” which is probably an accurate assessment of what many courses are doing now to create a more difficult challenge for players who regularly bomb drives over 300 yards.

The par 5s are particularly daunting.

Most of Hazeltine National’s new length comes on the par 5s, three of which are 600 yards or longer. The thinking is that No. 7, at “only” 572 yards, will be the lone par 5 that players can still reach in two. Only Alvaro Quiros managed to reach the 15th hole (642 yards) with a driver and a 5-wood during a practice round Wednesday.

Most of the big name golfers, including Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson, don’t see what the big fuss is about:

“I don’t think the length is such a big deal from what it’s been made out to be,” defending champion Padraig Harrington said. “I think major golf courses need to have this length. Since Augusta lengthened the golf course, it’s become a better golf course. It has more options.”

“My strategy or belief (is) that the tour, the tournaments, should make the hard holes harder and the easy holes easier, because people want to see birdies and they want to see bogeys,” Mickelson said. “And when you take a hard hole like (par-3) 13 and you move the tee back to where it’s 250 or 260 yards, you’re going to see a lot of bogeys and doubles. That gives the better players a chance to make up ground to separate themselves through making par.”

I guess what Phil and Paddy are saying is that bigger is always better. Ain’t that the truth, amirite? That’s what I’m talking about! Who’s with me?

(looks around for someone to high five)

Oh, for Christ’s sake, fine. Let’s not make this a federal case here.

I’m sorry, but if you’ll excuse me, apparently I have to put my boxers and pants back on. People in coffee shops can get real uppity sometimes. Loosen up, will ya? What’s the point of improving yourself if you can’t show it off to other people?

Play starts at PGA Championship [Yahoo!/AP]