Designed by Arnold Palmer with Ed Seay in 2002, the course at TPC Boston began hosting the annual PGA Tour’s Deutche Bank Championship the following year. Unusually, this four day professional event (now the Dell Technologies Championship) is played from Friday to Monday, ending on Labor Day.
Gil Hanse and his associate Jim Wagner renovated the golf course (in conjunction with PGA Tour player Brad Faxton) five years after it opened and although they retained much of the original routing, they changed the layout's New England persona and greatly enhanced its strategic challenge.
Notable holes include the new, short par four 4th, the updated par five 7th (with its version of Pine Valley’s “Hell’s Half Acre” bunker) and the 412-yard 17th (where a new ridge protected by church pews splits the fairway).
The story of TPC Boston boils down to this -- prior to 2007 the layout, the handiwork of Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, was simply a course with a few moments of specialness but lacking a consistent theme where design details were fully showcased. After the involvement of Gil Hanse and former PGA TOUR player Brad Faxon -- the overall nature of the layout was improved dramatically. The bar for quality golf in The Bay State is very high -- especially so on the private side of the ledger. TPC Boston can certainly make a good case for consideration as a top ten layout. The holes provide a range of strategies and the course provides the wherewithal for players who are trailing to make up ground with an ending flourish of birdies and possible eagle at the 18th.
TPC Boston has been the host site for the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs since 2007 and is the only stop on the PGA TOUR which ends on Monday of the Labor Day holiday weekend. Having covered the event a number of times I have always enjoyed the special character that the broader New England locale provides. The course is located midway between Boston and Providence and has become a real enjoyment for golf fans from the region. However, the PGA TOUR has opted -- quite rightly in my mind -- to consolidate the number of playoff events but the solution has wrongly merged the Boston and NYC metro area events into one event which will then rotate between the two locations. The traditional ending on Labor Day weekend will also stop and that will be a loss for what made the event so appealing.
On the architecture side, Hanse updated the layout and with water coming into play at key intervals of the routing there's never time to doze off. The par-5's are especially well done and Hanse added a number of features at the greensites which raises the stakes with plenty of risks and rewards in play. The closing 18th has really ben bolstered because only a second shot of high quality can likely have a good look at eagle. Hanse excels in creating greens which are set-up to reject anything other than the well-executed approach.
TPC Boston also has a roster of winners that's quite good. Rory McIlroy has won the event twice and after he sat out The Northern Trust event to work on his game he will be in the field this week. Justin Thomas is the defender.
Power has a role at TPC Boston but crafting a broader array of shots carries more weight here. Hanse and Faxon have added a good bit of sparkle with design elements that tie the whole package together. The television views will show plenty but the real design elements of note can only be fully appreciated by being at the course. TPV Boston is not in the category of classic old school architecture which Hanse did so well at Boston Golf Club but the Norton layout is a solid effort in tweaking a modern layout so it can provide entertaining golf for both amateur players and world class professionals. That's no small task to accomplish.
by M. James Ward
A beauty with some fun par 5's