What Defines a P.G.A. Championship Golf Course? Excitement.

The British Open is played at a fairly set rotation of courses, but the winning score is as dependent on the weather — particularly the wind — as it is on the course itself. Winning scores at the Old Course at St. Andrews, for example, have ranged widely. Woods won there in 2000 at 19 under par. Five years earlier, John Daly won at six under. The most recent Open at St. Andrews was won by Zach Johnson at 15 under par.And then there’s the golf course that hosts the United States Open. How the United States Golf Association, which administers the U.S. Open, sets up the course is often the subject of debate. Complaints are legendary: The greens at Shinnecock Hills in 2004 and 2018 were so fast and the pins were placed in such difficult locations that some of the best players in the world called the course unplayable. They included Phil Mickelson, who in 2018 hit a putt while it was still rolling to keep it on the green. (He incurred a two-shot penalty.)So what makes a course worthy of the P.G.A. Championship? It’s easy to say what the courses are not — overly tight, unforgiving or predictable — but it’s harder to say what they share in common.A look at the courses that have hosted the championship doesn’t, on its face, paint the same picture of consistency as the other major championships.A relatively short Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N.Y., hosted the first P.G.A. Championship in 1916. Oakmont Country Club, considered by the sport to be the toughest course in America and synonymous with the U.S. Open, hosted a P.G.A. Championship in 1922, five years before its first of nine U.S. Opens. Classic courses like Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J.; Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.; and Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., have hosted P.G.A. Championships and U.S. Opens.Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., and Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., have hosted regular PGA Tour events as well as the P.G.A. Championships. And some now obscure courses have also held the tournament, including Seaview Golf Club in Galloway, N.J., and Hershey Country Club in Pennsylvania.“The list of P.G.A. Championship courses is kind of uneven, but in a cool and fun way,” said Tom Coyne, who played golf in all 50 states, including at every U.S. Open venue, for his new book “A Course Called America: Fifty States, Five Thousand Fairways, and the Search for the Great American Golf Course.”

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