I know you'll be shocked to find out, it's a Palmer. Craig Dolch reports:
Ask any player in the field for this week's inaugural PGA Tour Ginn sur Mer Classic about the Arnold Palmer-designed layout at the Tesoro Club, and you'll get a variety of responses.Shuttles. In Florida? Nice.
Some of which you can even print in a family newspaper.
While unfamiliarity with any course causes consternation among golf professionals, especially when they're trying to keep their jobs, a lot of players don't think the course - unlike the meaning of Tesoro - to be much of a treasure.
One caddy called it a "walk-off" course, predicting at least one player will walk off in the middle of the round this week because of its quirky nature, not to mention long distances between holes that will require numerous shuttles from greens to tees, adding to the time of the round.
Another player, when asked about what he liked about the course, paused for a few seconds before he smiled and said, "It's got a lovely clubhouse."Well, that's not entirely true, but...perhaps it's not just the architecture that's the only issue.
To be fair, Palmer was designing this course for high-handicappers who don't come to resorts just for the golf. Moreover, the area has been hit with several storms recently that dumped more than 5 inches of rain, making the fairways soggy and muddy.
"If we hadn't gotten all that rain, it would have been a really good test," said Palm City resident Ken Duke, a Tesoro member who ranks 44th on the PGA Tour's money list. "It's still going to be (a good test), but it would have been a little tougher. I just hope there aren't a lot of negative comments about the golf course because of the long walks. There's nothing you can do about that."
Hitting the fairways won't be easy because they've been narrowed in some spots to 15 yards, flanked by 23/4-inch Bermuda rough, to help put some teeth into the resort course.
15 yards? Take that USGA!
Because of logistical reasons, PGA Tour officials won't use the par-3 sixth hole on the Palmer course, replacing it with the par-4 18th on the adjacent Tom Watson course, making for par-73 layout. Jupiter's Robert Allenby said some other holes don't add up.
"On the 16th hole, I hit a driver that went through the fairway," he said. "So then I hit a 3-wood and that left me with a 3-iron. There's another short hole where you have to hit a driver or a 3-wood just to clear the hazard, then all you have is a wedge going in. It's not your typical course, but I will say this: These greens are the best we've putted on in South Florida this year."
Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen said he'll rely on an odd combination of clubs this week. "You need to hit your driver and your wedges well," he said. "There's a lot of long holes, as well as quite a few short ones."
Palm Beach Gardens pro Steve Marino was one of the few who wasn't complaining. "I don't know why everyone hates it," he said. "I have no problem with it."
One thing most players agree on is if the winds kick up this weekend, as they're supposed to do, this will not be a course where everyone goes low. Duke was asked to compare the Palmer course to the others used during the Fall Series.
"I think this golf course is five shots harder than any of them, no question," Duke said. "Maybe than some of other courses we play, too."
But no matter what the players say or how much they complain, someone will walk away with the $810,000 first prize this week.
"Everybody is playing the same course," said Johnson Wagner. "It doesn't make any sense to complain about it. Other than it being soggy, the course is in great shape. So just go out and play the course."