[Jack] Whitaker covered, and delivered essays about, all manner of sport. He wrote as he dressed, with tweedy charm. He said of his favorite game, “Golf is the most movable feast of all.” That is, it could be played everywhere, from Merion, where he was a member, to the public courses of Philadelphia where he learned the game in the 1940s. MICHAEL BAMBERGER
The committee has decided--and boy is it a committee--what to do with the absolute dud of a back nine hole at TPC Sawgrass. You may recall that the 12th has always had some sort of mound to add visual distraction but Pete Dye's two iterations of the hole have failed to illicit much enthusiasm.
The concept of the new hole sounds ideal, injecting some much-needed risk-reward design. In concept, anyway.
No shortage of cooks have thrown in their pinches of salt, which is never a good thing.
Garry Smits reports on the design details, set to be carried out after the 2016 Players (thanks reader Steve):
The large bank on the left will be leveled, the green complex will be modified to allow for players to run shots onto the green and there will be a narrow water hazard that will run down the left side of the green.
“Wev’e studied all the great driveable par-4 holes, not just on the PGA Tour but in general, and we have the pieces of what we think go into making it a great short par-4,” said Andy Pazder, the Tour’s executive vice-president and chief of operations. “One common trait is the risk-reward factor, which we think the water hazard will create. The other is that it’s driveable for everyone in the field, and that will be the case.”
Pazder said the changes to the 12th hole have been in discussions for the last two years. Stadium Course architect Pete Dye, Tour in-house architect Steve Wenzloff, Tour players who live on the First Coast and past Players winners have been consulted.
Smits also details other renovation plans for the property.
The course is slated to be re-grassed after the 2016 Players and while he makes no mention of a much needed Pinehursting of TPC Sawgrass, Rex Hoggard reports that players have been briefed on possible design changes. New tees on a few holes are expected, as is a re-imagining of the bland 12th hole.
At just 350 yards, the 12th is historically one of the Stadium Course’s easiest holes, with a small green and large mounds left of the fairway meant to create a blind approach shot.
The plan is to make the hole a drivable par 4 by knocking down the mounds, creating a water hazard, and repositioning the green, and playing it between 270 and 330 yards.
The hole was redesigned by Pete Dye during the last re-grassing and it just has not inspired.
Let's see what the details look like. However, I'm confident that anything to improve the 12th will be a positive, assuming Mr. Dye gets another crack at it. Third time's the charm!
Long chatted about and apparently now the recent struggles at TPC Sawgrass have lined up a re-grassing of the greens after the 2015 Players, with other tweaks coming too. Unfortunately, no mention yet of some of the bigger changes desired by Pete Dye (mentioned in a Jeff Silverman Golf World profile out this week, not online).
More important to the future of the course is some sort of effort to recapture the fear factor and ruggedness of the original. More of the old Captain Jack Sparrow vibe instead of today's Captain-Sparrow-in-drag aesthetic.
Anyway, Rex Hoggard with the memo that went out to players detailing the planned work for the first time.
As a result, the Tour announced in Wednesday’s memo that a “significant” number of trees have been removed from around the most severely affected greens and that after the 2015 Players Championship the circuit will convert to a hardier variety of Bermuda grass and “will also make strategic design changes to expand certain green complexes to disperse wear and tear from foot traffic.”
“It isn’t one thing that caused this it was several things, shade, foot traffic, winter conditions and the application program, while accepted as the right thing to do it proved to be too aggressive,” said Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communication and international affairs.
**We talked about the old TPC vs. the new TPC on Morning Drive.
That Geoff Ogilvy statement will have the howling players of the early 80s questioning his sanity, yet it's hard not to look at the old photos as Ogilvy has done and wonder if, other than some extreme and immature greens, maybe the lambasted version was ahead of its time?
Either way, we'll never know as Pete Dye hasn't stood up to Commissioner Monk's neat and tidy sterilization of the place and therefore we get a TPC Sawgrass which doesn't quite get the juices flowing like it could. Ogilvy explains in Golf World:
The fairways were beautifully maintained, but outside those playing areas there was an unkempt, Pine Valley-type feel to the place.
Not that I've ever seen any of that at Sawgrass. In my time on the PGA Tour, it has always been strictly maintained and manicured. Which is a pity. I'd like to see the course allowed to be a little more "wild." It's a bit too neat. It would be nicer to look at if it wasn't so nice to look at, if you know what I mean.
It could be done too. The green complexes are sufficiently challenging. You could get rid of the rough and create some interesting angles for the approach shots. Right now, scoring isn't easy even from the middle of every fairway, because that isn't necessarily the best place to be on any given hole. It isn't playing from the rough that makes the course so difficult, it is missing such undulating greens in the wrong spots.
Thanks for all of the memory-jogging nominations for great greens in the game. The chapter got a whole lot easier to write.
Though I noticed no one really got too excited about my 17th at TPC Sawgrass nomination, and now I read in Doug Ferguson's piece that Tiger the architect thinks the 17th is poorly placed in the sequence of the course. Kinda spooky I know, but when you are going with the whole Fazio thing in your design business, the overriding theme is bound to be dull design.
“I’ve always thought that hole is too gimmicky for the 17th hole of a championship,’’ Woods said. “I think that would be a fantastic eighth hole, but not as the 71st hole of a tournament, or 17th hole of your round.’’
Thankfully Geoff Ogilvy was around to lend some more rational and thoughful perspective:
“If that was just a bunker around it and not water, you’d probably find more people would hit it on the grass,’’ Geoff Ogilvy said. “There’s something about water that does it to people. It’s a fun hole. I’m glad it’s here. You wouldn’t design an island hole on every course in the world, but it seems to work here. It’s cool.’’
And because this is my clipping archive, here's the lowdown on Tiger's Dubai design
partner associate, again from Doug Ferguson's notes:
Among those watching Tiger Woods at the Wachovia Championship last week was Beau Welling, who used to be the top designer for Tom Fazio and played a big role in the redesign of Quail Hollow.
But his presence had more to do with the future.
Woods has hired Welling to do the work on Al Ruwaya in Dubai, the first golf course for Tiger Woods Design. The golf course is supposed to be done by September 2009.
Woods said Bryon Bell, whom he hired as president of Tiger Woods Design, found Welling after looking at the philosophies of various design companies.
"Beau fit what we wanted to have happen," Woods said.
Dubai is the only course in which Woods is involved, and he did not say whether he would continue to use Welling for other projects.
Welling now has his own company, and golf course design is not his only interest. He recently was appointed president of the U.S. Curling Association.
In his story on the
TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course redo, Stan Awtrey shares this quote from the PGA Tour's David Pillsbury, which I must say doesn't sound like the course is returning to its original style of de-emphasizing rough:
"The feedback has been extremely positive," Pillsbury said. "The rough is very punitive. It will grow another inch and a half or two inches by the time we get to The Players."
Dave Shedloski talks to Dave Pillsbury about the reopening of, of, of, well, that course Pete Dye designed for Deane Beman in some Florida
swamp wetland. I don't even know what it's called anymore. So much for the brand.
Anyway, Pillsbury offers several insights into the project and only gets bogged down in Finchemspeak once:
The clubhouse simply adds a dimension of presence and magnificence that was not there before. You can see the new structure from 12 holes. We will now have an iconic golf course with an iconic clubhouse. It all makes for a truly impacting statement.
One other thing. In the story, they refer to it as THE PLAYERS Championship. I thought it was not just going to be The PLAYERS now? No caps on the The.
SOMEONE please HELP with this BRANDING clarification. I can't sleep.
Garry Smits on the
TPC Sawgrass TPC Stadium Course Players Stadium Course PLAYERS Stadium(C) Course reopening:
The first ceremonial shot will be hit at 7:30 this morning by Truett Ewton, an original member of the TPC at Sawgrass and one of the first to play the Stadium Course when it opened in November 1980.
As of late last week, TPC general manager Billy Dettlaff said only about 10 tee times were available today. The club anticipates that bookings will be higher than normal for this time of year.
"The whole marketing theme is, 'Play the Stadium before the players do,' " Detlaff said, referring to the date change of The Players Championship to May 10-13 next year. "I think a lot of people are going to want to see it before then."
So much for a subtle marketing approach.
This surprised me...
The biggest change above ground will likely be noticed only by the competitors in The Players Championship. The entire course is about 200 yards longer from the back tees (stretching up to 7,200 yards), with the increased distance more pronounced at Nos. 1, 11, 14, 16 and 18.
200? That sounds like a bit more than they had advertised going in. I still haven't noticed any talk of widening out some of the corridors to bring the trees and pine straw more into play.
I did love this caption on a photo similar to the one on the left: "People and a Committee discussing plans during the TPC Sawgrass renovation."
Great hearing the Commissioner tell the NBC boys at Bay Hill about the new irrigation system that allows them to water on the roughs and not the fairways. I'm so glad MacKenzie and Behr aren't here to see this! Anyway...
Ryan Herrington looks at the TPC Sawgrass renovation and includes this quote from the Tour:
"We spend a lot of time talking to our tournaments about the need to upgrade what they do," said Bob Combs, the tour's senior VP for communications. "Yet we're the marquee event, and if we're going to urge others to keep raising the standard, we have to show them what it is."
I'm having a hard time envisioning that $16-18 million clubhouse renovations and $6-8 million course upgrades are that necessary for one week of Tour play. Especially when the course redo motivation is driven in part by a dislike for low scores, as this Garry Smits story pointed out:
Since Greg Norman torched the Stadium Course for a record 24 under in winning the 1994 Players, the Tour has attempted to set the course up with firm fairways and greens and high rough. In years when there wasn't much rain, that has been accomplished. An example was 1999, when David Duval won at 3 under, the highest winning score in Stadium Course history.
But if the area experiences a wet winter, there's not much Klauk could do with the current course to help drainage, as too much organic material has built up near the surface of fairways, causing them to be slow to drain.
The contrast between wet and dry has been dramatic. During years the Tour considered dry, the average winning score was 8.5-under-par. During years considered wet, the average winning score was 13.6 under, according to PGA Tour statistics.
Not content to be the fifth of four majors, the Tour's Bob Combs discusses changes to the TPC Sawgrass and Players Championship with Steve Elling and others. Two things jumped out:
"Soup to nuts, we're changing anything we can change," tour spokesman Bob Combs told a group of Florida-based golf writers.
Hmmm...it's almost like they have to spend a lot money.
The tour has a wad of money to finance the deal and reams of data to justify it. The winner at Sawgrass over the years has finished an average of 13.6 under par when the course was wet and 8.5 when the course was dry.
"This has taken as much effort and brainpower as I've ever seen at the PGA Tour," Combs said.
Adam Barr looks at the TPC redo and writes, "You’ve got to admire anyone who wants to reengineer a brand while things are good, instead of waiting until problems crop up."
Reengineer a brand? I bet the Commissioner will like that euphemism.
COO for the TPC Network David Pillsbury on the TPC Sawgrass renovation:
"[When completed] we'll almost have placed a layer of Gore-Tex over the entire 20-acre complex of fairways and greens that will allow us to ensure consistent, firm, fast and fair conditions regardless of weather," said David Pillsbury, COO of the Tournament Players Club network, who expects the course to re-open in November 2006.
Golf World says the projected cost of the new clubhouse is $16-18 million, while $6-8 million is being spent on theuh, Gore Tex. The story also includes a rendering of the clubhouse, which looks like an Arabian Prince's Lake Las Vegas mansion.
Wouldn't you love to ask some PGA Tour players what they think of spending that much on a clubhouse?
Oh and Golf World also reports that The Players Championship is getting a new logo.
Now we know what's been holding it back from major championship status. The clubhouse and logo.