Phoenix Open Course Preview: The TPC of Scottsdale

By Scott Behmer, Contributor

Scottsdale, Az - The Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale has all of the ingredients needed to be a top-notch TPC course: demanding par 3's, a bevy of long par 4's, risk/reward par 5's, and some of the slickest putting surfaces in Arizona. All of this, plus the natural amphitheaters around most of the holes make it the ideal course to hold the Phoenix Open.

TPC Scottsdale Champions Course - Par-4
Watch out for the bunkers at Phoenix Open host TPC Scottsdale.
TPC Scottsdale Champions Course - Par-4
If you go

The TPC opens with two side-by-side 410-yard par 4's. Accuracy is key in starting off the round. With driver or three wood off the tee, the players will have no more than an 8-iron into the large greens.

#1's green is flatter and easier to stick the ball close; #2's is an upside down sombrero, with its large depression in the middle. #2's most difficult pin is on the front edge. The ball must land on the green to get to the hole, yet not bounce past the hole and into the swale.

The 550-yard, par 5 #3 is where length becomes an asset. Only the longest hitters can reach this uphill green in two. If the shot comes up short, it rolls down the grass hill and leaves a difficult pitch back up. The majority of the field will lay up with the second shot, planning to stick a short-iron next to the pin for an easy birdie.

The shortest hole on the course is the 150-yard, par 3 #4. While only a wedge for John Daly, the rest of the field probably will use a smooth 8-iron to attack the flag. A dangerous place to miss is left of the green in the grass bunker. It's nearly impossible to get the ball to stop when it's coming out.

Now that the players have been eased into their rounds, they must face the teeth of the TPC. Except for #6, a 389-yard par 4, the next 11 holes will require a long-iron approach. In this set there are two long par 3's, six long par 4's, and two reachable par 5's.

#7 and #12 are the two par 3's, with distances of 213 yards and 195 yards, respectively. On both holes the players do not want to hit it left, leaving a difficult bunker shot. However, right is even worse on #12 because a lake is just off the fringe. Solid tee shots to the middle of the greens for two relatively easy pars would be ideal.

The six long par 4's are highlighted with the 470-yard #5 and the 469-yard #11. These two mammoth holes, along with #8 measuring 453 yards and #11 at 444 yards, can play like par 5's in windy conditions. There's nothing tricky here--just grip it and rip it.

The conclusion of this 11-hole stretch is the straightaway, 500-yard, par 5 #15. Water lines the left side of the fairway and proceeds to cross the fairway at 100 yards and create an island green.

Every player in the field can reach this green. The question is do they have the nerve to do it when the pressure's on.

Long known for its party atmosphere, #16 could simply be named "The Zoo." Its 50,000 drunken fans help liven up a rather simple 150-yard par 3.

From the moment the player starts his downswing the gallery's screaming. For a player with momentum it can help him feel even better, but the player who's having a tough day will whine and complain endlessly about how that situation needs to be changed.

The driveable, 332-yard #17 is the last real birdie hole. With a long, straight drive all that remains is a short pitch to the hole. The difficulty here lies outside the fairway. Small pot bunkers line the fairway leaving the players with the most difficult situation in golf, the long bunker shot.

Also, water lines the left side of the hole so a bladed bunker shot or a hooked drive is going to be wet. All of these obstacles become much more obvious to a player on his 71st hole of a golf tournament.

The TPC closes with a 413-yard, dogleg left par 4 over a lake. For players who chicken out and go straight across the lake, a large bunker awaits.

No player in the field can clear the lake, so it's just a matter of determining how much you can bite off. Then, the mid-iron approach is to an uphill green with a bunker guarding the right side.

With an accurate second shot the player will have a chance at a birdie, but with either an errant drive or second shot there's an even greater chance for bogey. These possibilities help make for an exciting finish to one of the great tournaments on the PGA Tour.

Next week, you can come out to the TPC and, for $100 with cart, and compare your game to the pros'. You'll experience terrific customer service, excellent practice facilities, delicious clubhouse specials, and a course that players at all levels can enjoy.

So have fun this week watching the pros in action. Then next week it's your turn to play with friends and birdie #18 to win your own Phoenix Open.

Scott Behmer, Contributor

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