May 1, 2017 By: Mike Kirby – NORTON, Mass. – When TPC Boston was renovated in 2006, two holes went largely untouched.
Other than some cosmetic changes, the 12th and 13th holes were left largely untouched as golf course architect Gil Hanse drastically altered the look and character of the layout first designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer’s firm.
But when the PGA Tour’s top 100 players tee off this Labor Day weekend for the Dell Technologies Championship (formerly the Deutsche Bank Championship), they’ll see two vastly different holes on the back nine.
“This is really an extension of that 2006 renovation,” said Dan Waslewski, general manager of TPC Boston. “Essentially, there were 16 Hanse holes and two Palmer holes. That’s been rectified.”
Hanse and partner Jimmy Wagner returned to the golf course off Route 140 in Norton last fall to redesign the two holes in an effort to present golfers — both pros and members — with a new look and new challenges while providing more spectator access for the tournament.
Workers are now finishing up holes 12 and 13, making them available to TPC Boston members in a couple of weeks. One of the first tasks was to remove most of the trees that separated the two holes, which run side-by-side.
Here’s a look at what else the players — and spectators attending the FedEx Cup playoff event Sept. 1-4 at TPC Boston — will see:
This is the more dramatic change of the two holes. The main features of the hole’s previous design was a large slope just to the right of the fairway and wetlands that guarded much of the green. Both are gone.
Instead, the tee has been shifted to the right and the fairway greatly elevated for a little more than 300 yards from the back tees, virtually eliminating the slope on the right. Then, the hole dramatically drops down to a lower level and a new green built well to the left of the old one.
The hole has also been stretched from about 460 yards to about 500 yards for the pros, making it one of two 500-plus yard par-4s on the course (the 14th is a par-4 for the pros, a par-5 for members). A good drive, avoiding some grass-strewn fairway bunkers, will leave players with about a 190-yard approach to the green. It is also without the wetlands hazard that used to swallow up shots.
The tee has been dropped down and moved to the right on this relatively straight par-4. (Member tees remain further to right, providing a more dogleg right hole.)
Besides the missing trees on the left, the biggest change has been to the green. The old green was elevated and, as course superintendent Tom Brodeur described it, “an east-west shape” — that is, wide but narrow.
The new green is at ground level and “north-south” — narrow in width but very long from back to front.
Brodeur said one issue before was that the 13th and 15th holes were fairly similar, both leading to elevated greens. This redesign has changed that.
Besides the challenges for players, Brodeur said the changes should “greatly improve the spectator experience.”
For instance, there’s a large new slope behind the 12th green and near the 13th tee, allowing spectators to sit and watch players hit their approaches, putt and then tee off on the next hole.
On the 13th hole, the ground level green and sloping around it will allow more spectators to watch the action there.
The old-school New England golf course features Hanse brought to the 2006 redesign — wispy grass, chocolate drop mounds, large boulders that help define fairways — have been added to both holes.
“The original design was a Florida golf course dropped in the New England woods,” Waslewski said. “Now, the transformation to a New England course has been completed.”