This month on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale, fans will see a resort track morph into a layout stern enough to test the best. Greens will be slicker, fairways tighter, rough taller. (Oh, and they’ll sell a lot more Bud.) How much tougher? Let us count the ways:
1. Fairways? Sure, they’re fair — if you can find ’em. Landing areas, as wide as 60 yards for resort guests, narrow to 24 yards in some spots for the tournament.
2. The rough. Three-quarters of an inch for resort guests — up to four inches for the pros.
3. Size matters. The par-4 9th, which plays 383 yards for us mortals, stretches to 465 for the FBR Open. The “reachable” 468-yard par-5 15th is lengthened to 550 yards.
4. Putt for d’oh! Greens, running 10 to 10.5 on the stimp for you, reach at least 12 for the pros. What’s that like? Try putting on a pool table. Good. Now putt on the hood of your car.
5. Secrets and lies. Fairways are shortened from a half to a quarter-inch. Does that mean the pros have it easier? Actually, says TPC superintendent Jeff Plotts, the average player sweeps his irons instead of pinching them, “So he has a harder time off a tight lie.”