TPC Louisiana uses bunkers to challenge all types

By Mike BaileyApril 19, 2010, 11:20 pm
tpc louisiana
The 15th hole at TPC Louisiana near New Orleans

AVONDALE, La. – No other golf course design element can distinguish a good player from a not-so-good one quite like a bunker. It makes sense, then, that Pete Dye included 103 of them in his design of TPC Louisiana, host of the PGA Tour Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Dye, with input from player consultants Steve Elkington and New Orleans native Kelly Gibson, put bunkers everywhere. They’re in landing areas and around the greens. Some are tiny, others are the size of a football field. In truth to their name, hazards, 62 of them are pot bunkers. It’s hard enough avoiding them, but getting your ball up and down is no easy task.

Other than that, there's not much to contend with on this par-72, 7,520-yard golf course – except for the mounds, water, small greens and towering pines and cypress trees.

In other words, there's trouble everywhere at this PGA Tour venue.

TPC Louisiana demands patience

It's hard to believe that this was once just a flat piece of swampland next to New Orleans. But in true Pete Dye fashion, earth was moved to create mounding, lakes, lagoons and 20 acres of bunkers and waste bunkers.

It’s no wonder that when the course opened in 2004, Dye quipped that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem 'finds a flat site, and then he calls me.

'But I appreciate the confidence he has in me,' Dye added. 'And, what the heck, I still love digging in the dirt.'

Despite all its trouble, the TPC Louisiana, part of Louisiana's Audubon Golf Trail, plays hard and fast. In other words, don't be intimidated by the yardage, even from the tips, which is 7,400 yards for non-tour players.

But patience here is a virtue. Miss it on the correct side of the greens, and you've got reasonable up and down opportunities. Find a bunker, and things get tougher, even on greenside bunkers, which are often set away from the green with a chipping area in between.

'If you're aggressive and miss, you'll pay the price,' said TPC General Manager Luke Farabaugh.

Dye is famous, of course, for the island green 17th hole on the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, but what about island fairways surrounded by sand, not water?

That's exactly what you'll find on the 1ong par-4 15th. Off the tee left of the fairway, there's a 150-yard bunker with six small islands of turf in it. Chances are you won't find grass if you hit your ball in there, but you won't soon forget it either.

Oddly enough, in this area where water is plentiful, none of it is natural on the 250-acre TPC; but it is bountiful. It plays prominently on the par 3s. On the ninth and 17th, which are similar in shape and length, water runs all down the left side. On the 18th, which plays 585 yards from the tips, it's down the entire right side of this dogleg right.

Practice facilities and lessons at TPC Louisiana

It should be no surprise that the range, practice greens, practice bunkers and chipping greens are in superb condition.

On the large practice tee you get a pyramid of high quality practice balls with perfect Bermuda turf conditions and plenty of visible targets. Lessons are also available, ranging from $30 for a half-hour with an assistant to $80 for a full hour with a PGA Professional. Playing and group lessons are also available.

In the golf shop, you'll find a good selection of apparel and equipment and logoed merchandise from the Zurich Classic.

TPC of Louisiana: The verdict

The TPC of Louisiana was one of many properties in the New Orleans area to suffer from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but it has rebounded nicely.

The golf course suffered widespread flooding and thousands of downed trees, forcing the property to close. The clubhouse also was renovated as the tournament returned to TPC Louisiana in April 2007 after being played at English Turn Golf & Country Club for a year.

Typical of Dye, this is a thinking-man's course, but that will do you little good if you can't control your ball with all the trouble out there. Come with a plan and good golf swing and you'll enjoy your time.

TPC is also well conditioned, as you might expect of a course that charges $110-plus. Some of the holes do look similar to one another, but there are plenty you won't soon forget.

The 478-yard sixth is one of them. It's a tough dogleg left around water that makes par a real feat. The 16th is a good, short par 4 playable many different ways, including hitting driver to get it on or in front of the green, with water and sand looming to catch errant shots.

Five different tee configurations accommodate various skill levels. Although even from 5,100 yards, the bunkers and water are still there.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.