The nearly 30 acres of sand that play an integral part to the test that is the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort will play as waste areas for the 2021 PGA Championship. This rule has been in place for each of the PGA of America Championships that have been staged at the resort, including the PGA Championship in 2012. But with one caveat.

In 2012, all sandy areas were raked prior to the start of play with bunker rakes available throughout tournament competition to smooth any divots or footprints that had been left during the course of play. In 2021, there will be no bunker rakes available, which has been common practice during the coronavirus pandemic. This change could create a variety of challenging lies for players as each round progresses.

“As we have in previous championships, the sandy areas will not be bunkers, and we've notified all the players of that. So, players will be able to take practice swings out of the sand areas. It's part of the general area,” said Kerry Haigh, the Chief Championships Officer at the PGA of America. “But if a ball is embedded in that sand, there is no relief from the loose sand. We've notified the players and the caddies of that, and hopefully they're plenty aware of it as they were at our previous championships.”

The biggest change to the Championship is the addition of distance-measuring devices. For the first time, the PGA of America is allowing the devices during competition, having previously permitted them during a number of their other Championships. After an 18-month discussion among the board at the PGA of America, Haigh says the decision was made to permit their use during their major championships beginning in 2021.

“We feel potentially here it can certainly help if you hit the ball off line, which occasionally could happen. That potentially will help the speed of play in those circumstances,” Haigh said Tuesday. “But obviously we realize the yardage book and the other information that the caddies and the players learn over the practice rounds will still be just as important as it ever was. Now it's part of the rules of golf to be able to use them.”

The Ocean Course will play 7,876 yards, which is the longest in PGA Championship history. Distance-measuring devices will also be permitted during the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

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