Tims Tournament and the Players


Tim Finchem's run as PGA TOUR commissioner has not yet run its course. He just signed on for another six years. And the present hes giving the men he leads is a brand new golf course and a new date for the tournament they call their own.
Next year the tournament will be contested in May. Next year the tournament will carry a new name ' The Players. And next year, the tournament will be contested on a new-look TPC at Sawgrass.
Finchem and his crew at the PGA TOUR didnt just want this event to go along without the prestige that has made it what it is. No, no. The PGA TOUR needs its crown jewel to be as big as it possibly can. It needs its course to have all the bells and whistles and it needs its players to believe that the new-look TPC at Sawgrass is as good as it gets.
Some five days after a champion is crowned at this weeks Players Championship, down comes the clubhouse and out come the bulldozers.
Consistency is the answer. On average during a wet week, the winning score at the Players Championship yields a winning score of 13.6 under par. During a dry week the winning score is 8.5 under par.
While it might seem that either provides a winner who can go low, the five shot gap shows the PGA TOUR an inconsistency that they cant live with.
So what to do? Dig it up so the course can withstand every element Mother Nature throws its way and move the date to May when the rain doesnt flood Florida in the first place.
In all, six inches or 24,000 tons of organic material will be removed and replaced by 24,000 tons of sand carried by dump trucks that would span a stretch of seven miles. To put it differently, twenty acres of sod will be removed and replaced in favor of a fairway system that drains like nothing created anywhere.
If you think this isnt an exact science ' think again. Contours of the greens alone at the TPC will not change by more than one-quarter of an inch in total. And a sub-air system will be installed under the 18 greens to make sure the only moisture allowed on the greens is moisture the PGA TOUR deems okay.
In addition, the PGA TOUR is looking after you. Fan experience will be taken to the next level. Mounding at holes 16, 17, and 18 will be taken down nearly six feet or the equivalent of 65,000 tons of soil. The goal is to create more friendly slopes for spectators to watch play.
And for those of you who spend time and money to visit the resort, the practice facility - which was recently voted number one among resorts ' will be changed because it can be better.
The clubhouse gets knocked down too and rebuilt from scratch to create a grand Mediterranean architectural structure with an interior fell that carries a theme reliving great moments in Players Championship history.
The total cost estimate is sixteen to eighteen million dollars alone to do the clubhouse and another six to eight million to handle the golf course facelift.
So why? Its simple really. Major championships gain the attention. And major championship players need a canvas on which to live out their stardom.
In May, Commissioner Finchem wont need so many horn blowers on stand-by for weather delays, hell have a golf course that he can control, a winning score he can manage with consistency and a tournament that will really feel like a major.
Give Finchem credit. He consulted past champions of his event. He consulted Pete Dye. He talked with players who live on site in Ponte Vedra Beach. And he talked with other players he felt might have a proper feel for what works and what doesnt.
Hesitant to make change for the sake of change, Finchem wanted to keep the course fundamentally the same. He believes fans who watch like what they see and he likes the fact that recent history tells him that every type of player has a chance to win.
In short, The PGA TOUR and its commissioner Tim Finchem are setting a standard. And perhaps other governing bodies responsible for golfs designated majors should take note.
Tim wants consistency. Tim wants competition. And Tim wants the fan to feel comfortable.
Ive always felt that the Players Championship felt like a major championship. Come next May, Im certain it will. And Finchem might have set the standard by which all major championships should follow.
Is it a major? I dont really care. But I like the fact that hes keeping his course the same while giving it the proper facelift that will take it to the next level ' whether it needed it or not.
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