Dicky Pride can speak with authority about the roller coaster that lies in wait at the 14th hole of the TPC Four Seasons.
Trying to chase down Jason Dufner at the HP Byron Nelson Championship two years ago, Pride found himself stymied behind a tree after a poor drive. Chipping back to the short grass, he soon watched in dismay as his wedge flirted with the long carry over water to the green.
“Got basically lucky that wedge didn’t go in the water,” said Pride, whose disbelief only grew when his chip shot stopped with the ball casting a shadow over the hole.
That’s the nature of No. 14, which each year produces one of the highest counts of double bogey and worse – yet still yields a fair count of birdies.
Though the amphitheater 17th and lakeside 18th rightfully garner the most attention late on Sunday, many locals consider the 406-yard 14th to be TPC Four Seasons’ signature hole with its demand for precise placement off the tee and that 120-yard second shot over a pond.
No hole at TPC Four Seasons has produced more double bogeys and worse (164) since the course underwent extensive renovations after the 2007 event. Yet, No. 14 also falls around the middle of the pack in yielding birdies.
“You must hit the fairway,” said Keegan Bradley, the 2011 winner and last year’s runner-up to Sang Moon Bae. “If you don't, you're in bermuda [rough] or you are blocked by trees. If you hit the fairway, you can have a chance at making birdie. It's important.”
The hole bends slightly to the right off the tee, with the pond coming into play on the left as the landing area begins. A thick stand of trees guards the right side, leaving little path to the green for those who bail away from the water.
The green is long and narrow, and putting accuracy is at a premium when the Texas winds get to gusting. Anything above the hole leaves a treacherous putt.
When Bradley defeated Ryan Palmer in a playoff three years ago, both men bogeyed No. 14 twice during the week. A year ago, both Bae and Bradley were content to take four pars at the hole.