TPC Southwind undergoes ‘big change’ from one event to next


When the PGA Tour makes its return to Memphis next week, the empty galleries and sparse staffing won’t be the only differences the golfers will notice.

TPC Southwind, home to the second annual WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, has made a few changes to the course that will be mostly minor on the surface. But officials say some of the work took nearly nine months to complete and, according to TPC Southwind superintendent Nick Bisanz, the course has never undergone as much change from one PGA tournament to the next.

“There will be a little tweak year-to-year here or there,” Bisanz said. “(But) not to this scale. This is a big change, even though it’s not all that different architecturally.”

A full renovation of the course’s bunkers – the most labor-intensive and time-consuming project – began shortly after last year’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and was completed in May. Bisanz called it “kind of a facelift” and said a couple of bunkers were eliminated while a couple more were added. Some were enlarged and some were reduced in size, but every bunker on the course was re-edged, each one had its drainage and liner systems replaced and they all feature a fresh batch of sand.

The most noticeable difference from a golfer’s perspective will come on the par-5 No. 3, which has featured an almost straight-away layout with a lake in the middle of the fairway that comes into play on the second shot. Bisanz said the first half of the fairway has been shifted 15 yards to the right and a new tee box location has added approximately 25 yards to what was already a 554-yard hole.

PGA Tour rules official Dave Donnelly said the decision to alter the path of No. 3 was borne out of necessity.

“Some trees came out on the left and because of that, it was a difficult hole to maintain the turf on going through the winter and into the spring and summer,” Donnelly said. “So, shifting the fairway has made a drastic difference from an agronomics standpoint. And it wasn’t just planned with this specific tournament in mind. It also takes into account the playability for the other 51 weeks of the year.”

No. 3 isn’t the only hole with additional yardage tacked on after adjustments were made to the tee box. The par-4 No. 17, a downhill hole with a creek that breaks up the fairway, has picked up approximately 15 extra yards with the expansion of its tee box.

Donnelly said there have also been a number of cosmetic modifications made around the course, which is typical from year to year.

“The course has been on kind of a yearly project, reinforcing a lot of the creeks and ponds around the course,” he said. “Adding retention walls to help shore things up. But there are also three or four projects each year as part of kind of a beautification process to enhance the look of the course.

“This year, you’ll notice the 15th hole, there’s about 100 yards’ worth of stone wall put in there on the front of the green, on both sides of the creek, green and fairway side.”

Bisanz said the feedback from those who have played the course has been great.

“I see it every day, so it’s harder for me to see the difference, but members have been very happy with everything,” he said.



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