Aronimink could favor long hitters at 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Many LPGA Tour pros are getting to see Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., for the first time during practice rounds for the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Aronimink boasts an impressive history of events, notably the 1962 PGA Championship, the 2003 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and three PGA Tour events from 2010-2018. And this week, Aronimink will become the first venue to stage each of the PGA of America's three rotating major championships - the PGA Championship, KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, and KPMG Women's PGA Championship.
The move to the fall will challenge the players. Inbee Park called the 6,577-yard par 70 layout the “one of the longest” and also “one of the best” golf courses she has ever played. That’s saying something coming from a three-time KPMG Women's PGA Champion.
“It is a tough golf course, but it is just really long,” she continued. “ … Being in the fall, it's colder, ball is not going anywhere, fairways are really soft, greens are soft. So the ball is not going anywhere. I'm hitting a lot of 5-woods and 3-woods into this green, and the greens are big, fairways are big, so I hate to say it, but it is a really big advantage for the long hitters.”
Danielle Kang, the 2017 KPMG Women's PGA Champion, said Aronimink is “monstrous”.
“I'm thinking about taking one of my wedges out and putting in another hybrid and woods,” she said.
Should the course play long and soft, it would favor the bigger hitters. World No. 2 Nelly Korda and No. 10 Lexi Thompson are the only two in the field who rank among the top 10 in both the Rolex Rankings and in driving distance on the LPGA Tour. Anne van Dam and Jessica Kupcho, who finished as runner-up at the ShopRite LPGA Classic last week, are among the other contenders who average more than 269 yards off the tee.
The question remains: How will Kerry Haigh, the Chief Championships Officer of the PGA of America, set up Aronimink? Haigh, who is known for being perhaps the fairest and best setup person in golf, teased what might come in his Tuesday press conference.
“If the wind is blowing or the ball is not moving or rolling, then we'll look to make adjustments, as we do at every championship,” he said. “In this particular venue, there are certainly some tees or some long tees that we can move forward on, and in some cases, as we've told the players, there's two sets of tee markers on an alternative tee for players to practice on. There is some wiggle room. Maybe not as much as some modern courses, but that's part of the mystique of Aronimink, is it's a true old-style, old-fashioned golf course.”
Kang believes the winning score will be determined by the setup.
“If they do play it the way it's going to be like this, then it might be one of the longest golf courses that I've competed on on (the) LPGA Tour,” she said. “But like I said, I have no idea how they're going to set it up. You never know. We practice off a certain tee, like on No. 10, I have 4-iron, 5-irons in right now, but they may pull up the tee by 30 yards, and, all of a sudden, there's a downhill slope, and I could have a 7-iron or 8-iron in. It really varies.”