Players set to face renovated TPC Scottsdale
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Tom Weiskopf borrowed a design element from Oakmont when he replaced the left fairway bunker on TPC Scottsdale's par-4 18th hole.
Out of respect for the historic Pennsylvania club's Church Pews bunker, the course architect refers to the four long, thin strips of raised, turfed ground as islands.
''That's reserved for Oakmont. There is only one Church Pews,'' Weiskopf said. ''Those are islands in there. Four islands. Big islands. Some people call them church pews. They can call them whatever they want. You don't want to be in there.''
At the Phoenix Open this week, players will face a 300-yard carry over the left-side water and need to fly it 340 yards to clear the bunker. The previous bunker ended at 310 yards.
The punishing islands are the key feature.
''Oh, my gosh, that went through a process of about two months, because the islands were actually a little higher. They were very nice,'' Weiskopf said. ''You know, I had enough controversy as a player. I didn't want controversy. So, we toned them down. I wish we wouldn't have, to tell you the truth.''
The 72-year-old Weiskopf, a 16-time winner on the PGA Tour who has designed close to 70 courses, directed the $9.2 million renovation that was completed in November. He relished the chance to update the city-owned Stadium Course he teamed with Jay Morrish to design nearly 30 years ago.
''I felt lucky to be approached and asked to be involved,'' Weiskopf.
Weiskopf's team moved four greens, resurfaced all of the putting surfaces, reshaped and moved bunkers and tee boxes and replaced the irrigation and drainage systems. The clubhouse also was renovated, bringing the cost to $15 million.
Weiskopf used ShotLink data from the last five years to put the fairway bunkers back in play for even the longest hitters. He cut the number of bunkers from 73 to 66 and filled them with white sand that area tour players tested for two years on the back range.
''I thought the most important thing that we could do for this tournament was to challenge the tee shot more,'' Weiskopf said.
To reduce frost, the second and third greens were shifted to create better angles to the morning sun. The fourth hole was completely rebuilt, with the green moved away from the hotel, and the 14th green was shifted to a hilltop.
''I always thought the 14th green should be up on the hill in a location where you look behind that green and you can see the famous Superstition range behind it,'' Weiskopf said. ''More importantly, we needed to get away from a very tight situation with the road.''
Mark Calcavecchia set the tournament record of 28-under 256 in 2001 and Phil Mickelson tied it two years ago. The course record is 60, set by Grant Waite in 1996 and matched by Calcavecchia in 2001 and Mickelson in 2005 and 2013.
''I would hope we never see the 20s,'' Weiskopf said.
Mickelson said he has always liked Weiskopf's work.
''He has great strategy from a player's standpoint,'' Mickelson said.
The greens are better than he expected.
''The first year you always have to cut some slack because the greens are firm and unreceptive because the roots haven't had a chance to grow in,'' Mickelson said. ''Surprisingly, the greens are putting very true and in wonderful shape.''
Keegan Bradley also praised the work.
''They did an unbelievable job,'' Bradley said. ''A lot harder, but still very fair. I think this is a great test.''