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TPC Sawgrass reopens after renovations

The Stadium Course on the TPC at Sawgrass is back in business, opening after a seven-month project to install sub-air pumps beneath all the greens and to refurbish the fairways with a new base of soil that drains better.

There were a few subtle alterations along the way, and in a refreshing change, it wasn't only about length.

The home of The Players Championship now measures 7,215, an increase of a mere 117 yards over six holes. The two largest gains were an additional 23 yards on No. 11 to make it 558 yards, and 31 yards on the opening hole to make it 423 yards, which is still a 3-wood and short iron for most pros. There also is a new tee on the par-3 eighth that allows it to play as long as 237 yards.

The most noticeable change are the three bunkers to the right of the seventh fairway in the landing area, which provide a better frame and essentially create at least a half-shot penalty.

Also, trees were planted left of the par-5 ninth fairway and to the right of the par-4 sixth fairway. And in case anyone was wondering, no one filled in that big pond surrounding the 17th green.

The island green remains the signature hole at Sawgrass, but not necessarily the most breathtaking view.

While it won't be finished for another six months, the 77,000-square-foot clubhouse, with a Mediterranean Revival design, looms spectacularly behind the 18th green. It adds distinction to the PGA Tour's home course, becoming part of the landscape in much the same way as clubhouses at Riviera, Shinnecock Hills and Augusta National (back when you could see the clubhouse from the 18th tee at Augusta).

Fans will notice the amphitheater behind the first tee has been removed, allowing for a view of and from the clubhouse.

The course officially opened to the public Monday, and while it was in good shape, parts of the ninth fairway (about 180 yards from the tee) were slow to recover. There were chunks of turf missing, along with long strips of dirt that had not grown in, almost as if a varmint had been digging a trench.

"Do you know what animal did this?" a tour official asked with a smile. "Vijay Singh."

PGA Tour players used the ninth fairway as the range while the practice facility was being rebuilt.

November 15, 2006


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