BOCA RATON — When the TimberTech Championship returns to Broken Sound Club this fall, the stars of the PGA Tour Champions will face a more difficult finish.
That’s one of the unintended consequences of the redesign of the Old Course by Hall of Fame designer Rees Jones.
No longer will players win at the par-5 18th hole with eagles (as Bernhard Langer did in 2010 and Scott McCarron matched in 2017) or produce a highlight reel with Bart Bryant’s albatross in the second round in 2015. (The 18th hole in the tournament was the 16th hole for Broken Sound members but was used as the closing hole because there was room for grandstands around the green.)
But with Jones’ alterations removing the putting green behind the 18th green, tournament officials have decided to use it as the finishing hole. Players will have to grind on a par-4 with water to the left in play on the tee shot and an approach that can be stretched to 455 yards, with a crooked tree in the fairway.
“It gives the course a little more bite and teeth to it,” said Broken Sound’s director of golf Jeff Waber, the South Florida PGA’s reigning PGA Professional of the Year. “If you’re going to win this tournament, you’re going to have to handle one of the toughest finishing holes in South Florida.”
The TimberTech Championship was shifted to Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club last year while Jones did his work on the Joe Lee-designed Old Course. The move didn’t stop hometown hero and Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer from winning the title for the third time.
Jones didn’t have a say in which hole would serve as the 18th, but he knew the erstwhile closing hole needed some toughening.
“At the Jim McLean junior event, players were reaching the par-5 with driver, 7-iron,” Jones said.
Granted, many 15-year-olds can hit the ball farther than 50-year-olds, but you get Jones’ point. The TimberTech Championship needed a more difficult finish.
Jones, dubbed “The Open Doctor” for his work in preparation of various major championships, said his focus was to make the Old Course challenging for the game’s elite while also making it enjoyable for Broken Sound’s older membership.
“We rebuilt every green, tee and bunker,” Jones said. “We tried to give it an old and classic look. The greens have all been redesigned and there is no repetition with how they play. There’s not a lot of greens perched next to water (except at No. 18), like it is at a lot of South Florida courses. I think the PGA Tour Champions players will love the changes.”
TimberTech will be played Nov. 3-5 at Broken Sound
The TimberTech Championship (Nov. 3-5) has been held at Broken Sound from 2007 until last year. It will once again be the second playoff tournament of the Charles Schwab Cup, with the top 54 players in the CSC standings eligible.
The last four TimberTech Championship winners at Broken Sound are major champions Langer, Darren Clarke and Mark Calcavecchia, and Steven Alker, last year’s Charles Schwab Cup champion who has won six times since turning 50.
“We’re excited to return to the Old Course where the TimberTech Championship has had so much success,” tournament director Steve Marino said. “The players have always enjoyed playing the course and appreciate the hospitality provided by the Broken Sound membership. It’s like we’re going home.”
The redesign features an interactive area behind the clubhouse called the TimberTech Backyard, where fans can watch golf while playing outdoor games and enjoying a beverage.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Charles Schwab Cup PGA Tour Champions and TimberTech Championship back to play on our gorgeously renovated Old Course at Broken Sound Club,” Greg Devino, general manager/chief operating officer of Broken Sound Club, said in a statement. “Mr. Jones has done exceptional work on the course’s redesign and we’re exhilarated to see how the pros compete on the lengthened layout and reconfigured grounds.”
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: PGA Tour Champions will find tougher finish at 2023 TimberTech Championship