After last year's tournament – which features the top 64 available golfers in the world – several players were critical of some of the green contours and bunker placements on the 7,900-plus-yard Jack Nicklaus signature course. One of those players was Tiger Woods, who is still on his self-imposed sabbatical, so we won't be getting his thoughts this year.
The Match Play is conducted on Dove Mountain's Saguaro and Tortolita nines (there are 27 holes at the Ritz-Carlton). Nicklaus was somewhat reluctant to make the changes at first, charging that the players really didn't know the course well enough after playing the brand new course just a few times to really understand the intricacies. In the end, though, Nicklaus believes the course is improved and has stated that in time it will be among the tour players' very favorite layouts.
Last year's champion, Geoff Ogilvy, hadn't really seen the changes yet in person when he appeared at a media day last month, but he was well aware of what had been done and felt that the softening of the greens, in particular, would allow for more pin placements. Moving some fairway bunkers around would give players more options as well, which is what match play is all about.
In the end, I would be surprised to hear a lot of grumbling this year. The course is solid, and at nearly 8,000 yards, plenty of challenge for today's players. It should make for some entertaining matches.