Controversial Internal Out Of Bounds To Feature At 2023 PGA Championship

Anyone who ends up on the seventh fairway when playing the sixth this week at Oak Hill will be penalised

A look at the green on the sixth hole at Oak Hill Country Club
(Image credit: Getty Images)

An internal out of bounds has been put in place for this year's PGA Championship at Oak Hill and it's safe to say it's not gone down well with fans.

Its use in golf tournaments always tends to split opinion and it's no different in the run-up to the second men's Major of 2023. Specifically, anyone who ends up on the seventh fairway at this year's championship when playing the sixth hole of Oak Hill's East Course in Rochester, New York, intentionally or not, will be deemed to be out of bounds.

The sixth is a 503-yard par-4 with water up the right off the tee and up the left approaching the green. It's a brutal hole and the PGA of America clearly wants it to be played as intended. As such, it has been deemed that a penalty is warranted for those who play over to the seventh, which runs adjacent on the right-hand side.

Kerry Haigh, the Chief Championships Officer of the PGA of America, was asked to explain the reasoning behind the decision, saying: "In playing the sixth hole, the fairway on hole seven is out of bounds. That is the same rule we played at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. With the redesign, the trees that were no longer there, sort of if you go down that way, take the water out."

James Ridyard, a golf coach and short game specialist, posted a picture of the sign that has been erected, along with a caption comparing it to the radical course set-ups typically seen at US Opens. Naturally, it raised the eyebrows of more than a few interested parties.

See more

First, the wording was called into question, as it seems to suggest that it's acceptable to end up in the rough on the seventh, even if that means a ball has travelled over the fairway to get there.

Matt Lockey, a PGA pro based in the UK, replied: "That's not real golf," while others were harsher with their criticisms. 

"How are you out of bounds if you're literally on the course?" one Twitter user mused. Some called into question if the picture was real but the majority of people opined that the course design must be inadequate to have such a rule in place.

"If this needs to be done then the overall design of the course probably needs a re-think," someone commented. 

Another wrote: "I strongly disagree with in course designated OB. Players should be able to play a hole however they want within the perimeter of the golf course, in my opinion."

One user did, however, offer an explanation for its implementation this week, saying: "[It] would make second shot a lot easier, and takes bunker & water out of play, this is before the tree removal too."

See more

Internal OB has been seen before at Majors. The first hole at the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush springs to mind, which had out of bounds posts up the left and right-hand side of the par-4 opener. It famously caught home favourite Rory McIlroy out, leading the Northern Irishman to card a quadruple-bogey eight en route to a disappointing missed cut.

It's highly unlikely anyone will fall as foul to the internal OB at the 2023 PGA Championship, but you never know...

Andrew Wright
Freelance News Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he decided to go freelance and now covers a variety of topics for Golf Monthly. 


Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.


As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.


What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Mizuno mp32 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x