“Wait, No. 17 is a par 5?”

old_17b.jpgThis popped up a few months ago but Golfweek's Beth Ann Baldry brings up the sore subject of the absurd and insulting decision to play the Road Hole as a par-5 for the Women's Open Championship. 

Susan Simpson, director of championships for the Ladies Golf Union, said the powers that be bantered around a bit on making the decision. Moving to a forward tee was not an option since they wanted to preserve the unique feature of driving over a building attached to the Old Course Hotel (optimum aiming target is the letter of your choice on the “Old Course Hotel” sign).

In the end, Simpson said the decision to bump it up to a par 5 was made because officials were more concerned about the degree of skill required for the second shot rather than the distance.

In other words, the women can’t handle it.

Suzann Pettersen disagrees.

“Why wouldn’t we be able to play it as a par 4?” she asks. “We’re good enough.”

Pettersen hit 4-iron into the green Wednesday but hit wedge into it downwind the day before. Even Mi Hyun Kim, one of the shortest players on tour, hit 7-wood to the back of the green.

Kim dropped a few balls on the road and experimented hitting different shots. Her caddie said the locals suggest using a hybrid or a putter. Kim tried to metal wood but preferred her wedge.

Plenty of players will be looking to find the front right portion of the green, clear of any danger and hope for a two-putt. Others will try and go long left – anything past the pot bunker – if the pin is toward that side of the green (which it will be on several days).

Why mess with over the green like Tom Watson in 1984, who hit 2-iron and and landed against the stone wall? (Former LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw hit one off the wall in today’s pro-am round and nearly made it on the green.) Why risk dumping it into to the Road Hole bunker like David Duval in 2000 and walking off with an eight?

Lorena Ochoa plans to play it safe, hitting 3-wood off the tee and then aiming front right. Her caddie, Dave Brooker, feels the hole loses some of its drama as a par 5. He joked with Ochoa that every time she makes a five on the 17th she’s really making bogey. Count him as a traditionalist.

Annika Sorenstam’s caddie, Terry McNamara, feels the same way.

“I think par 73 doesn’t sound right,” McNamara said. “Let it be 72 and whatever you get (on No. 17) you get.”