Angel Cabrera tries to escape trouble on the 12th hole in 2011. (Carroll/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
VALERO TEXAS OPEN: Turf Talk: TPC San Antonio | Despite changes, course still a stern test
A moderate amount of softening was sufficient prescription for three of the four greens designated for renovation after last year’s Valero Texas Open.
At No. 12, though, a little more extensive work was in order.
The putting surface, shaped like a light bulb, had been a lightning rod for criticism since the TPC San Antonio became the event’s new home. Severe slopes created landing areas that often were too exacting to hold approach shots, especially if the wind was blowing.
“If you didn't get it up there, it was 20 yards over the green or it was 45 feet short of the pin,” defending champion Ben Curtis said of a back-left pin position.
Nor did prospects get any easier if a shot stayed on the putting surface. Last year’s total of 44 three-putts was the highest for any hole on the PGA TOUR. Though No. 12 only ranked as the fifth-toughest on the AT&T Oaks, it was the most likely spot to see a triple bogey or worse.
“We wound up rebuilding the entire green,” said course superintendent Tom Lively. “It had three different levels to it, and it was difficult for players to see the green from the fairway.”
Crews last summer lowered one large hump that created the severest contours on the putting surface. Other areas were raised, not only softening the undulations but creating a better target from the fairway.
“We’ve had some TOUR players here,” Lively said, “And everyone who’s played it a few times says the changes have been very good.”
Curtis thinks not only will approach shots hold better on the new surface, it might open the door for some more creative scrambling.
“Now I think you might see some guys bump and run it up the hill a little bit more,” he said. “I think you're just going to see. It's going to be totally different, especially with that pin on the left.”