If the second half of the golf season in any way resembles the first, fans and viewers will be out in force to watch the dramas continue to unfold. April’s Masters Tournament was pure Shakespearean tragedy. The ever-engaging Jordan Spieth, all of 22 years old and recently number one in the world, watched in utter disbelief as his Sunday lead crumbled after bogeying and double-bogeying hole after hole with Danny Willett of the U.K. then emerging victorious. Last month’s U.S. Open had a farcical bent due to a ruling by course officials. American Dustin Johnson was informed on the 12th hole that he may or may not be assessed a one-point penalty from a putt seven holes earlier. They would let him know their decision after the round. The hue and cry exploded golf’s Tweet-averse, including disbelief from other top-ranked players, at this fiasco of a non-ruling. Johnson made the point moot by powering through the back nine and stretching his lead to win by three.
The curtain rises this month on Acts three, four, and five – the British Open, the U.S. Open and the Ryder Cup.
The Open Championship
At the Royal Troon Golf Course in Ayrshire, Scotland—site of the 2016 Open Championship, also known as the British Open—players, balls, and clubs are all as subject to the whims of Scotland’s weather rollercoaster ride. A day can start out magnificent and with pounding rains and gale-force winds. Yet even the greatest golfer knows the thrill of the game would be lost without the rugged, not to mention beautiful, challenge of nature’s unpredictability, least of which is the untamed beauty of the untamed links-style course. Here, windswept coastal dunes and jungle-esque grasslands mimic the Scottish coastline. The Open Championship takes place each July in the U.K. To date, the Royal Troon Golf Course has hosted the Open eight times. First played in 1860, the Open Championship is the oldest of the Majors. It is always held at a links-style course. This year’s defending champion, American Zach Johnson, won at St Andrews, Scotland, last year, making him the sixth men’s golf champion to be victorious there and at Augusta, Georgia, where he won the Masters in 2007. Royal Troon, one of the most demanding links courses in the world, promises a true test of accuracy.
The PGA Championship
Some of the most legendary shots in golf have been made at New Jersey’s Baltusrol Golf Club, the location of this year’s PGA Championship – celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. A National Historic Landmark that showcases the beauty of the Garden State, Baltusrol has been designated a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for its environmentally conscious management. Baltusrol’s exquisite courses were designed in the early 1900s by A.W. Tillinghast, a prolific golf course architect from Philadelphia, and the combination of their challenges and beauty provide a perfect backdrop for the exquisite precision, intuition, and concentration required by master players of this most contemplative game. Tillinghast, known as “Tillie,” was inspired by photographs he took on trips to the golf courses of Scotland. The resultant infusion of an Old World aesthetic combined with an American penchant for technological advancement make this one of the most exciting courses in the world. Usually held in August, the PGA Championship was moved up to the end of July 2016 in order to accommodate the return of golf to the Summer Olympics.
The Ryder Cup
While the sport of golf is largely defined by the solitary nature of a player balancing the forces of nature and aerodynamics with the skill and intuition of his mind and body, the Ryder Cup provides an opportunity to blend the personal talents of top players in opposing teams every other year. With matches and teams selected according to a points system, the Ryder Cup allows fans and players alike to enjoy watching as elite golfers from the U.S., the U.K., and Europe display their camaraderie as well as a unique juxtaposition of their skills. Originally a competition between the U.S. and Britain, the Ryder Cup evolved in 1979 when the British team became the European team in order to make the contest more competitive. While Team Europe has emerged the winner since 2010, national pride is expected to play a strong role in Team USA’s performance this Olympic year when the Ryder Cup is held outside Minneapolis from September 30th to October 2nd among the famous lakes and hills of Hazeltine National Golf Club.