For most of the players involved in the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., there were enough challenges with the Quail Hollow Club’s fast-running greens without speculating on the obstacles that were on the horizon with what the putting surfaces might be like at this week’s Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
But then again, they couldn’t deny that they had heard the rumors: Cold, wet winter weather had done a number on the greens at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course and a chemical application to remedy the situation caused further damage. PGA Tour officials at the Wells Fargo Championship confirmed that there were issues, but offered optimism that warm weather during the weekend would improve conditions so that full practice operations would be available.
Apparently, those wishes weren’t quite realized, because three greens will be closed until further notice. Players received text messages late Sunday night that read: “The 4th, 11th, and 12th greens will remain closed to all practice. Please do not hit any shots to these greens.”
The text, first reported by the Jacksonville (Fla.) Times-Union, went on to request that players and caddies not walk on these greens until further notice.
Greens at nine and 14 also suffered damage, but reportedly they will be open for practice rounds.
“It’s a shame, but it’s no one’s fault. Let’s not point fingers. It was a rough winter,” said one player who lives in Florida.
He offered a reminder that this won’t be the first time a tournament has been held on greens that were below regular PGA Tour standards, and he nodded over his shoulder toward the Quail Hollow Club. Sure enough, just last year the greens at the Wells Fargo Championship were in rough shape, but the show went on, just as it did at East Lake GC in Atlanta during the 2007 Tour Championship.
That year, officials closed East Lake to the public Monday and canceled the Wednesday pro-am just to avoid stress to the greens. In the end, the dire situation was long forgotten when Tiger Woods steamrolled to an eight-stroke win to clinch the inaugural FedEx Cup.
There is no pro-am at the Players Championship and it’s a course that the great majority of the 144-player field are familiar with. Throw in a series of days where the weather forecast calls for 80-85 degree temperatures and zero chance of rain and a Tour official offered optimism that things would be OK by Thursday’s first round.
Of course, he had his fingers crossed at the same time.