June 15, 2011
Old White makeover
Changes will make low scores rarer at Greenbrier Classic
Vic Burkhammer

To see list of changes to the Old White course, click here

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - During nearly every turn of last year's inaugural Greenbrier Classic, the world's best golfers chased history on the Old White course.

Stuart Appleby finally caught up with Sam Snead's ghost in the final round at The Greenbrier resort. Appleby became only the fifth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59, breaking Snead's course-record 60 on Old White set in 1950.

Throughout the week last July, PGA players scorched Old White. J.B. Holmes tied Snead's record with a matching 60 in the third round while D.A. Points shot a 61 on the same day. Jeff Overton clubbed a 62 in the second round.

Those days may be over as the historic Old White was taken out of service shortly after last year's event and underwent significant changes to 16 of its 18 holes with an eye toward presenting a tougher test. (See graphic at right.)

"There were a lot of people threatening [59] and I think that definitely shouldn't be the case this year,'' said Jamie Hamilton, head golf professional for the Old White course. "You may see a round of 63 or 64. These guys are so good almost on any course someone can do it, but you won't see nearly as many or nearly as low.''

Old White, which was designed in 1914 by C.B. Macdonald and is the Tour's oldest course, will debut its new layout July 28-31 for the second installment of the Greenbrier Classic. Old White is now Old White TPC after becoming a Tournament Players Club course effective April 1. (See related story on Page 4B.)

The course changes to Old White that will affect play the most were the reseeding of the greens, the narrowing of fairways and the lengthening of the course by about 200 yards. The par-70 course played at 7,031 yards for last year's Classic.

The greens were reseeded with Tyee Creeping Bentgrass, and Hamilton said that should make each hole more challenging. He also said contours to some of the greens were altered.

"They played very soft during the Classic, so to get them firm and fast the way you want them for Tour conditions we knew that would be necessary,'' said Hamilton. "We should be in really good shape for the tournament. Last year they could hit a long iron or a fairway wood into the greens.

"[The greens] were so soft [the ball] would stop pretty quickly. This year they're going to have a much firmer first bounce. You're going to see a lot of balls running into the fescue around the greens and into the bunkers, so I think that's where the real challenge is going to come from. Everybody's scores will be a little bit higher because of that.''

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