New Course Promises Higher Scores


2005 Zuric Classic of New OrleansAVONDALE, La. -- Joe Ogilvie walked off the course on Wednesday thinking about new clubs.
'I'm going to have to get a new 3-iron and 4-iron after we complete play because I think I'm going to wear out the faces,' Ogilvie said, referring to the long-playing holes on the new TPC of Louisiana course that is hosting its first PGA tournament.
The course, which replaced the Jack Nicklaus-designed English Turn, opened in the spring of 2004. After Wednesday's pro-am, Ogilvie said this year's Zurich Classic will not resemble the low scoring affairs at the old course.
'At English Turn you thought 69, 68 was par,' said Ogilvie, who finished second behind Vijay Singh last year. 'Out here, if you shoot 69 or 68 you'll be lapping the field I think. It's a tough, tough golf course.'
Built on a flat, swampy 250 acres across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, the TPC of Louisiana was designed by Pete Dye, who created the flagship layout for the PGA tour, the TPC at Sawgrass.
Pros Steve Elkington and Louisiana native Kelly Gibson worked with Dye on the course. They designed a 7,300-yard, par-72 golf course that is flat, has small greens, five man-made lakes, and at times, more water than it needs.
The course has three pumping stations that can pump 14,000 gallons of water per minute. But with heavy rains over the last year groundskeepers were scrambling to keep greens from becoming lakes.
'We had some drainage issues,' said Bill Delayo, the club's general manager. 'We had to pull out some drainage lines and add some additional drainage. It left a few marks, but we believe we've solved the problems.'
Chris DiMarco also found the course tough, and like Ogilvie, thought a couple of holes would test everyone.
'The par-3s are very long, particularly the ninth,' DiMarco said. 'That's a very demanding hole.'
DiMarco, playing for the first time since finishing second in the Masters, shot a 75 on Wednesday. Ogilvie shot 73.
One person who didn't seem to have trouble with the course was the defending champion. Singh shot a 65.
'It's a good course, it grows on you,' Singh said. 'We just have to play and get used to it. There are a lot of places out there, a lot of holes that it's very hard to really figure out where to hit it. But once you get the line right, by the time the tournament comes, I think we'll be ready.'
Singh, winner of the Houston Open last week, is trying to become the first player to successfully defend titles in consecutive weeks since Johnny Miller won in Phoenix and Tucson back-to-back in 1974-75.
'We'll just have to wait to see on Sunday,' Singh said.
The course, which cost about $30 million, features 60 acres of native trees - moss-draped cypress, red maple, tall and oak woven around 120 acres of turf, which planners said helped it fit into the natural landscape.
'The beauty of this course is that it looks like it's been here 50 or 100 years,' Delayo said.
Singh wasn't as impressed, however, saying he's not a big TPC course fan.
'They kind of look all the same,' he said. 'I think it's about time something different on the TPC golf course should be done. The fairway bunkers, they are good for some reasons. But if you see 18 of them, there is no fun seeing them anymore.'
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