Sawgrass protects against rain

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

The home of golf's so-called 'fifth major', the TPC at Sawgrass in Florida, is being renovated to improve spectator viewing facilities and to make the course more resilient to bad weather. Heavy rain has affected the tournament on a number of occasions – the finish has been delayed to Monday seven times.

And in 2005, eventual champion Fred Funk was forced to play 32 holes on the Monday. One option is to move the Players' Championship from its present March date to May. But the course revamp is proceeding in any case. SubAir pumps are being installed under the greens to speed the drying of the putting surfaces.

Fairways are being capped with sand: the intention is to produce firm and fast playing conditions even after wet weather.

"We're excited about the golf course infrastructure," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "It should allow us the flexibility to get the kind of conditions we want, whether we're in March or May." Alterations are also being made to improve the spectator experience. Mounds around holes 16-18 are being changed, and a total of 65,000 tons of earth is being moved to provide better views. The project cost, including a new clubhouse, is estimated at US$25 million, and work will start after the 2006 championship. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2006.

This article first appeared in issue 3 of Golf Course Architecture, published in January 2006.