ORLANDO, FL - This summer, Arnold Palmer and the Arnold Palmer Design Company tweaked his classic course, the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, host course for PGA Tour event Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, under the thoughtful experienced eye of Palmer himself.
"Bay Hill is a great golf course. We don't want to change it; let's tweak it.", said Arnold Palmer to his design company architects Erik Larsen, Thad Layton and Brandon Johnson during initial project meetings at Bay Hill, where the design company and Invitational offices are also located. "Let's get the greens closer to the water and take the sand where you can see it."
"We had the unique ability for our event staff to work on-site with Mr. Palmer, APDC design architects, Roy Saunders and employees of the Bay Hill Club. Matt Beaver, John Anderson and the Bay Hill grounds crew worked closely with the Landscapes Unlimited team to make this renovation a success. Having everyone here has been a distinct advantage for our event." said Tournament Director Scott Wellington. "Players are really going to enjoy the changes."
The specific goals of the renovation were focused in three distinct areas: Agronomic/Maintenance (greens), Playability and Aesthetics.
The previous greens needed to be completely removed because of nematodes in the soil, small plant-parasitic pests, that made it difficult to maintain good turf quality. "To improve the turf conditions on the greens, new Emerald Bermuda grass was installed and proved to be the best performer in test plots grown at Bay Hill prior to construction." said Matt Beaver. "This new grass requires less maintenance than the previous and the new irrigation heads around the greens will provide a more precise application of water."
With Palmer's lifetime of experience designing courses around the world, to actually building push-up greens with his father Deacon at Latrobe Country Club, he was extremely hands-on with the entire renovation process from start to finish. "I love the Bay Hill course, it's my home, which is why it was so important to me to be involved with everything." said Palmer. "The renovations really add some new dimensions of play for Tour players and our members."
"I've introduced firm, fast playing conditions on slopes around greens mowed at fairway height that run away from the green surface and take the ball farther away from the intended target instead of stopping it, like the previous heavy rough did." said Palmer. "With these new conditions we hope to add creativity to recovery shots. Along with putting new pin positions around the outside of the greens and cutting bunkers up closer to the greens we have made my course more interesting to play and view."
"PGA Tour Shotlink data was used extensively to properly site bunkers and now reflects the new distances of the modern game." said architect Brandon Johnson. Over time the edges of the greens had shrunk significantly and a few greens had too much slope to place a pin, especially on the edges of the greens. Johnson goes on to say, "The new greens allow us to increase the pinnable areas on the edges of the greens for the Invitational and make the players think a little bit more about shot and strategy in their pre-tournament preparation and during play."
"We really improved the turf conditions and playability of tees by making them all consistently level." said architect Thad Layton. "Some of the narrow "runway" tees are now more visually appealing and large enough to handle wear from high golf traffic."
Course aesthetics have received a boost in visual impact with the bunker renovation. "The bunkers will give Bay Hill a new look and will help define the tee and approach shots into more visually and strategically intimidating golf." said Roy Saunders of Bay Hill. "The entire APDC team has been a pleasure to work with on these changes. I appreciate our members' patience during this process and am confident they will be very pleased with the end results."
"I'm very proud of everyone involved to make the Bay Hill course renovation a success. Especially, since the renovations had to be completed in 2 months so the course can properly grow in and open in September." said Arnold Palmer. "I know the 2010 Invitational will be very exciting to watch with these new course changes in place."
For detailed hole-by-hole renovation descriptions please read below. For more information on the Arnold Palmer Invitational by MasterCard and to purchase tickets please visit www.arnoldpalmerinvitational.com.
ABOUT THE ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY MASTERCARD
The Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard will hold its 32nd annual tournament March 22-28, 2010. The Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard is one of Central Florida's signature sporting events and a highlight of the PGA TOUR, attracting some of the greatest talent in golf. The entire event is overseen and directed by one of the game's all-time greats — Arnold Palmer. Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation, including the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.arnoldpalmerinvitational.com.
The tees were widened and shifted right to provide a better angle to access the fairway. Bunkers 180 yds off the tee to the right were eliminated and converted to rough. Bunkers outside of dogleg were enlarged to provide visibility from the tee. Greenside bunkers were moved closer, deepened, and flashed higher to frame the green. Interior of the old green surface was replicated and the edges softened to provide better hole locations closer to the bunkers.
One of the few "major" changes, this green was rotated 30 degrees clockwise to enable players to hold long iron and woods into green. A natural slope on the right utilized to feed shots onto the green enabling shorter players to access front right pin locations. The front left bunker was eliminated and converted to fairway run-off area. Tees were realigned and moved closer to cart path. With the green now rotated and back tee expanded, this hole can play as long as 245 yards.
The tees were realigned and moved closer to the cart path opening up an unobstructed view of the fairway. The first fairway bunker on the right was converted to fairway. The second fairway bunker was enlarged and moved closer to the landing area. The fairway leading into the green was expanded, enabling a ground approach into green. The green was expanded towards the water to create an array of pin positions tight to the hazard. The greenside bunkers were moved closer, deepened, and flashed higher to frame green.
This hole was converted into a true par 5 without lengthening the hole. This was achieved by moving out the fairway bunkering into the 270-300 yard range, a new lay-up bunker was added to the left of the fairway 100 yards from the green to guard the lay up area, bunkers adjacent the the green were re-configured, a reduced green size with an elevated green surface with tightly mown surrounds and deep bunkers.
The tees were realigned and moved closer to the cart path which opened up an unobstructed view of the fairway. Bunkers were enlarged and repositioned to force decisions off the tee. A new fairway cut over the left fairway bunker provides the opportunity for a drivable par 4 from the forward tee. A steep slope on the front right of the green will provide a new layer of difficulty on this crowned green surface.
The tees were raised and moved closer to the lake. The first fairway bunker was eliminated. The sand in the next two fairway bunkers were taken higher to increase visibility from the tee. The green was expanded toward the water to the front, left, and rear. A fairway cut was introduced to collect shots hit through the green and to provide shot options that were previously non-existent. This allowed us to create a new tournament viewing area behind the new #6 green.
The tees were expanded and fanned out to the left. The fairway cut short of the green, steepened to repel shots short of the green to the bottom of slope. The greenside bunkers were deepened and pushed tight to the green. A new front right pin location will be quite a test for members and tournament players.
A new tee was added on a spit of land surrounded by mature trees. The tees were shifted to the left for better views of fairway from all tees. The fairway bunker was flashed higher for better visibility from the teeing areas. Expanded the green left toward the water and softened the back right of the green to create a difficult hole location between the bunkers. The first half of the greenside bunker on the right of the fairway was filled to better show off 2 new bunkers adjacent to the green.
The tees were widened. The fairway bunker on the left was shifted 40 yards down the fairway to better challenge tee shots. Two fairway bunkers on the right were converted to rough. The green was rotated to the right to engage the re-configured bunker complex to the right of the green.
We made the left fairway bunkers slightly larger and shifted them to the right to engage the fairway. The right fairway bunker was moved 50 yards forward to bring it more into play. Very subtle green modifications were made by squaring off the edges to introduce pins on the corners. The approach and side slopes of the green surrounds were made sharper to introduce a tightly mowed slope on the surrounds.
The right side fairway bunkers were shifted closer to the fairway line and repositioned to fit today's distance requirements by eliminating the first bunker and converting it to turf and replacing it with one at the 285-300 yard turning point. Certain areas around the perimeter of the green were smoothed out to introduce pins closer to the greenside bunkers and lake edge. A roll off left and behind the green that blends into the #12 tee was introduced.
The three hidden fairway bunkers that were located at the beginning of the fairway were eliminated and replaced with two bunkers; One protecting the inside right corner at approximately 260 - 270 yards off the tee and one protecting the outside left corner of the fairway at approximately 300 yards from the back tee. The left fairway line has been shifted slightly to the left to widen the fairway and provides an obscured view from the fairway for the second shot. The second landing area fairway bunkers were repositioned for visibility and to engage play better. Old shaping and mounds that blocked views into the bunkers and green complex were removed. The green side bunkers were reshaped, positioned for visibility and moved closer to the green to protect the corner pin locations.
Every effort was made to keep the original character of this green which was slightly modified to introduce corner pin locations behind bunkers and adjacent to the steep shaved slopes on the green surrounds.
The Championship tee was pushed back ten yards and all the tees were repositioned. Before the renovation there were three hidden fairway bunkers on the left side of the golf hole. During the renovation this bunker complex was reshaped to include two highly visible bunkers that were shifted and repositioned closer to the fairway to become more in play off the tee. The right fairway bunker was reshaped and shifted closer to the fairway too.
This green previously had a lot of movement along the edges that did not allow for pin positions close to the lake edge or greenside bunkers. The perimeter rolls were softened and the green enlarged on the front right and back right to introduce pin locations all along the lake edge and close to the greenside bunkers. The greenside bunkers were also reshaped for visibility from tee and fairway and shifted closer to the green.
This hole has a significant visual change. Previously, 90% of the bunkers on this hole were not visible from the tee and neither was the green surface. The old green had sharp rolls along the edge that did not allow for perimeter pin locations or pins behind the bunkers.
The front right bunker complex was eliminated and a tightly mown grass slope along the entire right side of the green was created. The left greenside bunkers were reshaped and moved closer to the green to better protect pin locations on the left side of this green. The greenside bunkers behind the green were reshaped, made visible and shifted closer to the green surface to protect back right and back left pin locations. The green surface has been smoothed out to allow for more pinnable space but still retains a hint of the old green contours.
A back tee was built that could add 50 yards to the hole if desired. If used, this new back tee will bring the reshaped fairway bunker more into play and turn it into a real obstacle off the tee. Originally there were two fairway bunkers protecting the inside right corner of the fairway. The bunker complex was reshaped with one large bunker that was slightly repositioned to bring it more into play. This green complex received three changes. Firstly, it was reduced in size and moved out of the shadows cast by the surrounding trees. Second, the green was shifted away from the cart path. Third, the green size and contours were made more appropriate for the type of shots played from the original back tee location. The front greenside bunkers were reshaped, repositioned and moved closer to the green surface allowing for a more intimidating approach shot. The right green side bunkers were removed and replaced with a tightly mown grass slope. The back greenside bunker was reshaped for visibility and moved closer to the green surface. While this green did change slightly there are several elements from the old green that were incorporated into the changes.
Tees â€“ The tee complex was shifted left to utilize the natural ridge line and to increase visibility down the golf hole. A large swale was reshaped from the back tee down to the fairway that increases overall visibility and opens up a view slot down to the fairway.
The two right side fairway bunkers were reshaped, combined to make one large fairway bunker that is now highly visible from the tee, and shifted closer to the fairway to bring it more into play. Two of the left side fairway bunkers were removed and converted to rough. This allows for one prominent fairway bunker to protect the left side.
The green complex was reshaped and the beach bunker removed to incorporate shaved slopes and collection areas on the middle right, back right and back left of the green. The front greenside bunker was reshaped and moved closer to the green. A small back right greenside bunker was added to help protect the back right pin locations. The green surface was smoothed out to allow for more pin locations around the perimeter, lake edge and beside the bunkers. While the green was modified for increased pin locations the original green contours were incorporated in the renovation.
Visually this hole will look different and slightly more intimidating, but strategically should play better with increased pin locations along the perimeter of the green with reshaped bunkers that are closer to the green surface. The most dramatic change on this hole is the expansion of the beach bunker. The green was shifted seven to ten feet to allow for the beach bunker to be reshaped and contoured for drainage, playability and visibility.
A back tee was added to increase the hole yardage by approximately 10 yards. The renovated green is almost a carbon copy of the old green with slight modifications in the green size to accommodate an additional front pin location and middle back pin location.
The practice green tries to replicate the golf shots you can expect on the "new" Bay Hill course. A large fairway cut was introduced around the chipping green. Repositioned the bunker to hit down the length of the green, allowing golfers to practice both long and short sand shots. The bunker tripled in size and deepened to reflect new bunkers on the course. The "False front" on the chipping green will allow golfers to practice this difficult short shot.