New Coolum holes more receptive for PGA

The most significant changes to the picturesque layout of the Hyatt Regency Coolum course for the 2011 Australian PGA Championship will be the further maturity of the six new holes on the front nine.

Course superintendent Dean Henderson says a rare benefit of one of the wettest seasons on record is that natural vegetation on the unique setting has experienced a boundless surge in growth.

Jason Day Jason Day (Credit: Anthony Powter)

“This significant growth, particularly on the six new holes, will help bring that unique feel of being surrounded by natural vegetation to the entire golf course this year. And we expect that by November much of the surrounding housing will be masked out by the natural vegetation,” he said.

Because the President’s Cup is being played in Australia this year, the PGA Championship has been moved forward to November 24-27 – the week after the cream of the world’s golfers play at Royal Melbourne.

Heading the list for Coolum this year will be Queenslanders Greg Norman and Jason Day, as well big-hitting left-hander and world No. 13, Bubba Watson.

Australian golf icon Norman will be playing at Coolum for the first time since 2004 and course superintendent Henderson is confident he will like what he sees – particularly the condition of the opening six holes which will be in play for the third year of the championship.

“These holes are developing exactly as we expected,” he said.

“The soil amendments we have added to the profile of the greens are making them play more like the original 12 holes that remain on the course. I’m sure the players will notice they are more receptive than during the past two championships.

“The new greens have probably not been as friendly as the players would have liked and that is something we have really worked hard to alleviate, and I am happy with the result.”

“I think they’ll notice a difference, not just in the greens but in the general playability of the golf course.”

Norman, who will captain the Internationals in the World Cup, said he was excited about returning to Coolum to play the PGA in its centenary year.

“This is going to be a huge summer for Australian golf, and that includes the PGA at Coolum. It will be great to get back up there and see how the course has changed since I last played.”

Norman has won the PGA Championship’s Joe Kirkwood Cup in 1984 and 1985 and will tee off in this year’s event two weeks after playing in the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney.

At the other end of the spectrum, new world No. 9 Day will play the PGA Championship for the first time since he turned professional in 2006.

“This year will be big back in Australia. It is building in to a mighty field at Coolum and I’m looking forward to playing well in front of my friends, family and all the young golf fans down home,” said Day, who is Australia’s highest world-ranked player at No.7.

Watson was the first international to confirm he will play the PGA Championship. A regular fixture in the world’s top 15, he will play at Coolum for the first time since 2005, the year before he joined the USPGA tour.