A Wednesday on the PGA Tour

In the spirit of the baseball playoffs, we throw a change up and show some of the sights from the GGCC and some thoughts about the recent course changes too.

I live near Greensboro, NC and this week’s PGA Tour stop is at Forest Oaks Country Club for the Greater Greensboro Charity Classic. In place of my normal Thursday column, The Numbers Game, I thought I’d bring you some sights and experiences from the tournament site. Rob Goodman and the people at the GGCC were kind enough to provide The Sand Trap with credentials, and I’m happy to provide some thoughts on the tournament and the recent renovations to Forest Oaks by Davis Love.

Brad Faxon Corey Pavin GGCC
Corey Pavin and Brad Faxon are in the field this week. Brad is winless this year, but Corey isn’t!

Though most of the feedback has been positive, some of the changes border on “gimmicky.” Read on to find out why…

The Greens
A lot of the chatter regarding Davis Love III’s changes focuses on the greens. He rebuilt every one. The changes in some greens were more severe than others. Take a look at a few of the pictures below.

The design of the green on the par-5 second hole is probably the most dramatic. The front and back are well raised with a collection area in the middle. The traditional name for this is a “biarritz.” I’ve played this course and green and would call it “bizarre” first.

Forest Oaks Second
You can see from the side how deep the swale is in the middle of the second green.

Forest Oaks Second
The second green is also guarded by a long, deep bunker along the left side.

The 13th green is similar in its severity with a nasty false front and collection areas behind and in front of the green. This is a reachable par five as well, and makes for an interesting second shot because players can leave themselves some awfully interesting eagle putts.

Forest Oaks 13th
The 13th has severe slopes including a false front and a collection area in the middle left.

Though I’m not crazy about the second or 13th greens, the rest aren’t as controversial. Still, the other greens are no pushovers – they will provide a stern test for players. The 18th, for example, features a large, undulating surface that could spell disaster for someone needing two putts from 50+ feet to win the GGCC.

Forest Oaks 18th
More undulations on the 18th green, one of the less controversial surfaces at Forest Oaks.

The Players
Cody will be happy that the first player I happed upon was Charles Howell III. The Oklahoma State grad was teeing off the first hole with his Pro-Am partners. I got a couple of good shots as he was playing the first hole and teeing off the second. After he teed off the second he asked me if I was there to take pictures of his equipment (readers of our partner site GolfWRX.com can win prizes for submitting the best shots of PGA Tour player equipment each week). We exchanged pleas, I told him about The Sand Trap, and we shook hands. Howell is a genuinely nice guy.

Charles Howell GGCCCharles Howell III, a $1M winner again this year, glances back at the dogleg first hole. Howell is looking to build on his recent strong finish at the 84 Lumber.

After that, Peter Lonard and Jason Bohn were playing down the third and fourth holes, respectively. It seemed that all the pros were extremely cordial with their playing parters, but Lonard stood out as the most amorous. He was cutting it up and joking around with one of his older playing partners.

Peter Lonard GGCCPeter Lonard takes a break from joking around and hits his tee shot at the picturesque fourth hole.

Jason Bohn GGCCJason Bohn hits from the fairway bunker on the short fifth hole. Note his form. You could learn something here!

Vaughn Taylor, who is much taller than I thought, was also helping out his playing partners on the green. Even though he was bigger than I expected, Taylor was as quiet as you would think for a boy from Augusta, GA. Observant readers will note that Charles Howell III is also from Augusta, GA.

Vaughn Taylor GGCCBack from the Ryder Cup, Vaughn Taylor tees it up on the dogleg left seventh hole.

After walking most of the course I thought I’d head over to the range to watch some of the guys practicing. I was drawn to Camilo Villegas and his practice routine. Villegas hit wedges for 45 minutes. Some of the time he hit them one-handed. At other times, he hit them while balancing on bright pink cushions.

Camilo Villegas GGCC WedgesCamilo Villegas practice wedges for nearly 45 minutes. Can you do this? Camilo didn’t have a problem hitting dead straight shots with just his right hand. But Villegas did nearly fall over a couple times on the balacing objects.

I enjoyed my morning out at Forest Oaks and look forward to watching these guys compete on a course that I like and have enjoyed playing. These greens should provide a good test and the player able to master them should do well.

Photo Credits: © 2006 The Sand Trap .com.

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