You can read all you want about the hole by hole details of the updating of the TPC Scottsdale — I know because I did it — but it’s not the same as walking the course and taking a look.
I don’t know how it’s going to play for the Waste Management Phoenix Open which begins Thursday, but it looks great. First of all, they’ve taken out all of the old brown sand in the bunkers and trucked in pure white sand which is eye popping against the dark green rye grass overseed. And in many instances, the original co-designer Tom Weiskopf, who took this on as a solo project, “flashed up” the back edge of the bunkers for better visibility from the tee.
They look like brilliant white billboards out there and they’ve been moved around to require demanding carry distances: 311, 322, 342, 315, 336, 328…you get the point. The shortest I could find was the new aiming bunker on 14, 240 yards and the bunker in the center of the 17th fairway just short of the green, 279 with another 39 yards to the front of the green (318). All of these yardages are from the new 2015 Tour yardage book.
All of the changes make the course look “prettier,” and include new, full-grown aiming trees that look like they’ve been there forever. Somebody would have to tell you that they haven’t been.
It starts with the 1st fairway which used to run out to a native vegetation area forcing all of the pros to lay up with fairway woods. That’s all been grassed in to create a continuous fairway protected on the left by a new bunker that bulges into the fairway creating a “fair” choke point.
The tee on the 2nd hole has been moved back creating more of a vista hole with reshaped bunkers on the right steering you away from the boundary on the right. That green has been moved back and left of the original green.
Nice new tee complex on the par-5 3rd and the “perched” green has been lowered with the wash on the left expanded and steepened: “Don’t hook it!”
The green at the par-3 4th has been moved thirty yards left and raised so that it has more of a table top look than a sunken meadow. Very inviting.
The 6th looks pretty from the tee with the left bunker complex reshaped and two small bunkers added on the right “to help turn the hole.”
The 10th hole has a very dramatic new look with the Tour tee moved back and up onto the viewing hill behind providing a much better view of the huge bunker on the right corner of the dogleg. You can still carry it but you get to hit your driver.
The 11th and 12th holes have a pleasing set of new tees.
The par-5 13th is really interesting. Remember when Tiger’s tee shot ended up behind a boulder in the transition area in the middle of the fairway and the gallery gathered around and moved it? You once had a choice of playing left or right of that island, but now there’s no left. I couldn’t immediately see how all of that went away, but now there’s a sparkling white bunker protruding into the fairway with a 332 carry. So now you have to play right and avoid the pond right of the fairway.
The 14th has the most dramatic change. After you navigate around the left dogleg you are presented with a green that has been moved left and up the slope, the only “perched” green on the course.
The tees on 15, 17 and 18 and been nicely expanded and shifted providing what seems a better look at the hole.
There’s been a new bunker added over the lake on 18 with perpendicular grass islands to keep the players honest. It’s 305 to carry the lake and 340 to carry the bunker. There will be a lot more balls played more to the right, bringing the bunkers right of the fairway into play. They run from 285 to 338 off the tee.
The other cosmetic that’s been added is that some cart paths and been widened and re-routed to provide for efficient resort play during the year and better crowd movement during the tournament.
All in all, it’s worth a trip to see the new look. As a bonus, Tiger’s in the field.
Or perhaps it’s the other way around.