"If it feels older and looks more rustic, then we've done our job. That would be a great compliment," said Hanse, whose work at TPC Boston is a convenient starting point to a local golf season ready to blossom. After a brief blast of snow, slush, and ice, brown grass and soft, mushy turf is at our feet, and golf courses are slowly, but surely coming out of winter hibernation.This ought to catch and infuriate some
TPC Boston isn't quite ready for play, but soon it will be. In the meantime, Hanse and his colleagues have the place virtually to themselves.
His star in the world of course architecture was considered bright by those within the sport's inner circles years ago, but thanks to his exquisite work at The Boston Golf Club in Hingham, Hanse is no longer a secret. He and Wagner -- a vice president and design partner in Hanse Golf Course Design, Inc. -- are involved in projects in California and Nebraska, and just returned from Scotland. Still, their commitment to TPC Boston has been nothing short of consuming, given that they jumped into the project within two weeks of Tiger Woods's victory last Labor Day and are still there, almost on a daily basis.
"When people ask what we're doing, it's been said that we're trying to New Englandize it, if that's even a word," said Hanse, who was busy Tuesday shaping a bunker at the 11th hole. Somewhere on site, Wagner was busy with another bunker, because if this project is about anything, it's bunkers.
Hanse did that by combining a series of small bunkers in some spots, such as to the left of the first hole, which is now a large, rugged-looking hazard. But in some cases, a bunker was added, which brings us to the hole story in the 18th fairway.And...
"One of the really cool things they've done with the bunkers is to bring back some places where you really have to think before you swing," said Baldwin, acknowledging what has been a critique of the course, that it was more of a blast-away course and less of a shot-maker's dream.
Wagner gets credit for putting more strategy into the 18th with the shaping of a steep, links-like pot bunker in the middle of what would be the layup area at the long, par-5 18th. Long hitters will still rip for the green in two, but those playing it as a three-shot hole must take caution because that 20-by-25 feet of sandy real estate will put a bite into your score.
"It's just a cool pot bunker," said Brodeur. He concedes that he's overwhelmed by some of the changes, one of his favorites being the par-4 17th. It was a hard dogleg left that benefited long hitters who could cut the corner, but it now puts a premium on the approach shot, with a new green that is a mere 3,300-square feet.
Hanse also has overseen a handful of sweeping changes, such as the cross-bunker at the par-5 seventh, a large expanse that begins roughly 140 yards from the green and runs 40 yards deep toward the green. And the stonewall work done at the par-3 16th and behind the green at the par-3 third? Baldwin and Brodeur think they add a mature, distinctive look that courses as young as TPC Boston (it opened in June 2002) rarely have.