Kiawah Island's Ocean Course has quite the history in its 30 years of existence, having hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup, the 2007 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and the 2012 and 2021 PGA Championships.

Kiawah Island Resort's Ocean Course opened with a bang 30 years ago when it hosted one of the most dramatic Ryder Cups ever staged back in 1991 -- a 1-point victory for the U.S.

Over the years, the drama has lived on whether it was Denis Watson claiming the 2007 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, or Rory McIlroy winning the second of his four major titles to date in 2012.

And now, the Ocean Course is ready to host the PGA Championship for the second time -- a fact that Stephen Youngner, the PGA Head Professional there since 2006, couldn't be happier about.

Stephen Youngner, Kiawah Island's PGA Head Professional since 2006, walks with defending PGA Champion Collin Morikawa during a recent media day.

"You know it’s extremely exciting anytime you host a major," Youngner said. "2012 was a very exciting time for us, not just at Kiawah but in Charleston and in the Low Country and hosting a major in the state for the first time was a privilege and an honor. To have a second chance to present it again is a huge honor. It's extremely exciting, never gets old. You just never get used to it."

And if any of the players who were there in 2012 think they'll have some sort of advantage thanks to past experience, they may want to think again.

Youngner stressed that while the course hasn't changed much in the last nine years, the course will play much different than it did back then. And that all has to do with the time of year.

In 2012, the PGA Championship was played in August when the weather and the winds are far more consistent.

In May, Youngner said the variable winds will make the conditions far different for the best players in the world.

"This time around the course is going to play a lot closer to what it plays most of the year for us -- winds that are just all over the place," Youngner said. "The bite of the course is not just the design, which is outstanding, but also the weather. The wind is going to be the key factor in how difficult it will play and our chances of strong winds and winds that might blow from different directions are pretty good. Mother Nature is unpredictable. To present in May the way we see it most of the year with variable wind, we have a chance to see those conditions.

"Our agronomy team led by Jeff Stone have done a remarkable job in preparing the course," Youngner added. "I've never seen it as good as it is now. We had a fair amount of rain in 2012 -- especially on Saturday -- but it wasn’t soft the entire week. It was softer then than it is now. We haven’t had much rain since April 1st. The course is firm. The ball is rolling out and I expect it will play a lot firmer and faster than August of 2012."

The course, measuring a major-championship record 7,876 yards in length, has stood the test of time with minimal changes in its three decades. Youngner attributes that to the foresight of legendary architect, the late Pete Dye.

"We could stretch it out more than that (7,876 yards) at the Ocean Course," Youngner said. "It’s 30 years old this year. Pete did a great job in providing enough options to go back. We can go back 30 years later without doing much. He built a course that, with few changes, can host now."

Defending champion Collin Morikawa recently paid a visit to Kiawah Island and was accompanied by Youngner for half of his round. Youngner said Morikawa was interested in the paspalum grass -- a surface he hasn't had much experience with -- and praised the course condition.

He leaned on Youngner for some local knowledge and Youngner warned Morikawa about what every golfer needs to keep in mind on Dye-designed courses: you're always going to be looking at trouble.

"We talked about the strategy of the course," Youngner said. "A lot of what Pete does in his designs is point you toward the trouble to bring waste areas, hazards and water in play and he wants you to see that stuff and hide the big green fairway. We talked about that and the smarter places to play to and things like that. It’ll be beneficial for Collin to have seen the course."

Youngner mentioned how nice it'll be to welcome spectators -- even if limited -- after a year of COVID-19.

"Obviously it’s been a challenging year for all of us," he said. "Everyone is excited to have a PGA Championship and even though the number of spectators is limited, to have them here and get out and start to enjoy golf again the way we’ve been used to is exciting and will be a lot of fun. Even for viewers on television to see spectators and fans on the course will provide the drama you want in a major. On the last few holes, that’ll be a nice factor and opportunity for that feel with having a crowd. We’re happy we're able to accommodate what we are."

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