So it appears that the competitors at next week’s Players Championship will find a handful of greens at the TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium course in less-than-exemplary shape.
On the heels of a Florida Times-Union story earlier this month that highlighted recovery problems for all 18 greens after a cold, wet winter in Ponte Vedra Beach, a GolfChannel.com report on Tuesday revealed that at least five greens at the site of golf’s so-called “fifth major” are less than championship ready, with four showing damage and grass plugs used to replace turf.
This is an unfortunate break for the suits at PGA Tour HQ, who no doubt are mobilizing into damage-control mode ahead of their crown-jewel event. Despite their best efforts, however, the ugly greens figure to garner their share of TV overanalysis and generate carping from some of the Tour’s elite.
On the flip side, the bumpy surfaces could offer a lesson in perspective. Tour players are used to putting impeccable greens week in and week out. Joe Sixpack, on the other hand, regularly putts greens that are as patchy as his weekend stubble, particularly if he’s playing this time of year in the country’s northern tier.
At the New England muny where I play, for example, putts on the second green (ahem, brown) have been known to catch more air than the Flying Tomato at the Winter Olympics. (And don’t get me started on the perpetually waterlogged fairway.)
As that last parenthetical suggests, even we recreational players are inclined to complain when confronting subpar course conditions. Those with options might take their games elsewhere, but most grin and bear it, accepting the inevitable bad breaks while occasionally holing a 12-hopper for bogey.
Barring an agronomic miracle, this year’s Players likewise will demand an extra measure of equanimity from those who aspire to win. Which, to my way of thinking, will make the tournament all the more compelling.