The par-3 17th hole at TPC Four Seasons might reward aggressive shots on Sunday. (Carroll/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
As part of the overhaul at TPC Four Seasons in 2007, the 17th green got new contours in an effort to bring more weekend birdies to an amphitheater setting designed for drama but too often had players happy to play for par.
Five years of results, though, show there hasn’t been a marked difference.
Only once, in 2009, has the 198-yard hole produced a weekend birdie total above the numbers No. 17 had produced in the three years before the makeover. And though last year produced a final-round best of 17 birdies, only one came from the final six pairings.
“You’ve still got to hit the shots,” said J.J. Henry, who served as a consultant to D.A. Weibring’s course makeover. The TCU alum took a one-stroke lead to No. 17 last year, but flew the green and wound up with a costly double bogey.
The traditional Sunday pin, before and after the revamp, is a front-right spot near the water that separates tee from green. Over the years, though, officials learned players weren’t often willing to take on the challenge. Two putts from the middle of the green was satisfactory.
“With that pin you never felt like if you were one or two behind [the lead], you could stuff it in there. Everything bounced away from you,” said Harrison Frazar, who also consulted Weibring on changes.
Weibring reshaped the green to allow a greater variety of shots to funnel toward that pin position. “You can take it off the slope and feed it down to the hole,” Frazar said. “So a good shot is going to be rewarded.”
Said Henry: “It’s a hole that always attracts a lot of people and a lot of excitement, especially on the weekend, and we wanted to try to incorporate that a little bit.”
Whether enough players choose to take on the challenge, though, remains to be seen. No. 17 ranked eighth in difficulty at last year’s Nelson; it fluctuated between fourth and sixth in the years before the redo.