Why the BMW Championship Is Being Played Out of Order at Wilmington Country Club
While Wilmington Country Club was first opened in 1901, the highly exclusive private club is hosting its first-ever professional tournament this week as 70 of the world’s best golfers come to Delaware for the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the BMW Championship.
But the PGA Tour pros certainly won’t be playing the same Robert Trent Jones-designed South Course the members enjoy. Not even close, actually.
Prior to the BMW, the biggest event Wilmington Country Club ever hosted was the 1971 U.S. Amateur. Ahead of the tournament, the club was asked to flip the nines so the exquisite clubhouse could be featured on television as competitors played their approach shots into the final hole.
After winner Gary Cowan, just the second Canadian to take the U.S. Amateur title, holed out for eagle from 130 yards on the new 18th for a dramatic victory, WCC’s membership opted to adopt the layout permanently.
Wilmington will again change the layout for the 2022 BMW Championship, but it’s a much bigger change than what occurred five decades ago. And the reasoning? The PGA Tour wanted to fit more hospitality tents on critical holes. Translation: The PGA Tour can make more money this way. Sponsorship dollars matter, folks.
So precisely how will the South Course play?
The South Course at Wilmington Country Club will be played out of order at the 2022 BMW Championship
Wilmington Country Club’s South Course layout for the 2022 BMW Championship is as follows: Holes 10-13-14-15-5-6-7-8-9 will be used as the front nine, while Nos. 1-2-3-4-16-17-11-12-18 will serve as the back nine. So we’ll still get that clubhouse in the approaches at the last.
While it might seem strange, the restructure should bring plenty of drama to the final four holes.
The par-3 15th (the normal No. 17) plays as long as 234 yards, and water surrounds most of the triangular green, which features three separate plateaus and narrows the further back and left you go. My guess is that’s where the Sunday pin will be.
The 16th (the normal No. 11) can play as long as 393 yards but will likely be shortened and used as a drivable par-4 in a round or two. It plays a touch uphill and features a bunker on the right side of the fairway roughly 85 yards short of the green. Club selection will be very interesting here.
No. 17 (the normal No. 12) features a ton of sand trouble that could make the 71st hole quite interesting.
Then there’s the regular 18th, a 446-yard dogleg-left par-4. There are bunkers on both sides of the fairway that could swallow plenty of tee shots. Players will face an uphill approach to the green, which is guarded short on both sides by sand. And the farther back the pin placement, the more blind the second shot becomes.
So expect a wild finish at the BMW Championship. But if you ever get the chance to actually play the South Course at Wilmington Country Club, don’t expect to play the same layout you’ll see on TV.
Stats courtesy of PGATour.com