This week the PGA Tou moves from a stunning Golden Age restoration in Old White TPC to a modern TPC at Deere Run, where the course was built into the land instead of on it. With nary a feature (greens or bunkers) derived from the natural terrain.
You know it’s going to be a very different week when one of the most talked-about aspects of the tournament is the tee markers (miniature John Deere tractors). It’s also noteworthy that with The Open scheduled for next week, the field is one of the weakest of the year. Additionally, the course typically ranks as one of the easiest on the season in terms of scoring against par, so expect more than just a few birdies and the winner to be at least 20 under (this has been the case for every winner except one going back to 2009).
The course was designed by D.A. Weibring, with Maury Miller and Chris Gray back in 1999. As an Illinois native and three-time champion of the Quad Cities Classic (the forerunner to the John Deere Classic currently hosted by the club), Weibring was brought on to bring out the best of the picturesque mid-Mississippi River Valley landscape.
Weibring describes the course like this: “There are elevation changes, great views and scenery, hardwood trees. You have the Rock River complemented with small ponds and deep ravines… and best of all, there’s no real estate. What’s more, the natural features of the former Arabian horse farm high above the Rock River Valley have not been compromised.”
Holes to Watch
With the winning score being so low, basically every hole has the potential for birdie. Here are a few to keep your eye on.
Hole 9 – Par 4, 503 yards
The No. 1 handicap hole is the longest par 4 and a strong test of strategy and ball placement. A level landing area for the drive leaves a very long approach shot through the suddenly-tight forest and over a roller coaster fairway to a long and narrow, tree-shrouded, slightly elevated green that has bunkers on both sides.
Hole 15 – Par 4, 484 yards
The toughest hole on the back nine requires a forced tee carry over a valley and features a long, narrow green that is heavily guarded by sand and trees. Not exactly a cupcake.
Hole 16 – Par 3, 158 yards
This picturesque, signature short par 3 is all carry and sits on a bluff 40 feet above the Rock River. It is guarded in front by a shale outcropping topped with a huge bunker, and to the right by another large bunker. To the left is the Rock River, but it’s out of play except for the worst snap hooked wedges.