The long stretch between the season's first two majors is broken up by what the PGA Tour would like to tell you is golf's "fifth major," THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass. With the Tour not organizing or having the rights to the four majors, this is its crown jewel event each season, played at the Tour's headquarters in Ponte Vedra. But the biggest week of Tour's year at its home course is starting with a bit of negative news -- the course is in startlingly rough shape.
The course condition issues are specifically up on the greens, and the fourth, ninth, 11th and 12th holes are in the worst shape. It's so bad that three of those greens aren't even open during the players' practice rounds. According to a report from the Florida Times-Union on Sunday night, the Tour sent a text out to all the players letting them know the fourth, 11th and 12th greens would remain closed on Monday as they desperately try to get them in as good a condition as possible over the final few days. Here's a Monday morning photo from Garry Smits of the Times-Union, and as you can see, it's not a good look:
That some of the greens are in such disrepair shouldn't come as a surprise at the top of the week, as the Tour had put players on notice that the Stadium Course was dealing with problems after a "misapplication of a product to help manage density and root development during the colder, winter period." That was the language in a memo made available to Tour pros at the end of March, as Rex Hoggard reported last week on GolfChannel.com. As Hoggard notes, these are also some of the smallest greens on the course, so the officials in charge of setup will likely be limited in what they can do at the Tour's biggest event.
The last time we had a major issue with greens on the PGA Tour was last year's Wells Fargo Championship, an event J.B. Holmes just won on Sunday night. The greens were so patchy and bumpy last year at Quail Hollow, a course often considered the best non-major stop of the year, that several players backed out and withdrew from the tournament at the start of the week. With all the cash on the line this week, it's unlikely we get players packing it up in protest or disgust at some of these greens, but that this is a problem in the one week where all eyes are on this course has to be a big embarrassment for the Tour.