The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale, built in 1987 by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, joins a long and distinguished list of courses in need of an update.
If final approvals are made in early February, Weiskopf, 71, will be going back to make significant changes, which include irrigation, grass and cart paths. Weiskopf says almost all greens will get minor contour changes, while three greens will get new locations. The bunkers and sand will have a different look. The clubhouse will be tweaked and updated, but not much will be done to 15, 16 and 17, which are fan favorites.
The 18th, however, will change. There’s no room to add length, the green and lake in front of the tee will stay in the same place, but the strategy of the hole will change as Weiskopf moves the rough in from the left and thus, shrinking the fairway. All told, it’s a $15 million dollar project that will start in April and if all goes as planned, be done in time for the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2015.
Video: Ginella on Tom Weiskopf and the Stadium Course
36-hole TPC Scottsdale, also home to the Champions Course, is owned by the City of Scottsdale and leased by the PGA Tour. In 1986, former commissioner Deane Beman, in conjunction with Scottsdale’s 4-term Mayor, Herb Drinkwater, devised a plan to build a stadium course. That year Tom Weiskopf’s Troon Country Club had won "Best New Private Course" by Golf Digest. After a walk of the course, Beman was sold. He hired Weiskopf and his partner, Jay Morrish, to build TPC Scottsdale.
Weiskopf says Drinkwater never gets enough credit for making the deal go through. The cowboy boot-wearing, non-golfing politician cut through the thick red tape to make the land available for a golf course. And without Drinkwater persuading a friend to sell the property used for the first two holes, Weiskopf doesn’t think they would’ve had enough room to build a championship course.
Drinkwater died in December of 1997, but not before he was able to see a scrawny Tiger Woods make an ace at 16 earlier that year. And in that moment, amidst the cup-throwing crowd, witness and appreciate the phenomenon of what that hole would mean to the game of golf.
Is Weiskopf shocked to see the four finishing holes create so much drama? "Not really," he said. "This may sound arrogant, but that was the plan."
As for the 17th hole, every one of Weiskopf’s 66 designs features a reachable par 4. He says he was inspired to incorporate the concept into his designs after playing the Old Course in St. Andrews during an Open Championship. Holes 9, 10, 12 and 18, depending on the conditions, could be considered reachable. He loved them, so why not have more of them? The fourth hole at Troon Country Club was his first. The 17th at TPC Scottsdale, regardless of the fact Beman hated the idea, wasn’t far behind.
Weiskopf says Beman didn’t like the idea because even in the former commissioner’s playing prime, he was always short off the tee. “I won that battle,” says Weiskopf. "And it’s more than just making it reachable. It has to be a challenge off the tee and from the spot where players will layup."
With the amount of fans and money the tournament generates for the city and the tour players, Weiskopf thinks the tournament should be more significant than just a general tour stop. He wishes it would be a WGC event.
"I would’ve liked to play in front of 500,000 fans," he said.