Is the Timuquana Country Club ready for her close-up?
Colin Montgomerie, one of nine members of the World Golf Hall of Fame on the course this week Constellation Furyk and his friends The PGA Tour Champions event certainly thinks so.
“Superb… they did a superb job,” he said after a practice session with 98-year-old designer Donald Ross. “We are all very happy.”
Lee Janzen, two-time US Open and 1995 Players champion, completed his very first round on the course and came to a similar conclusion.
“I wish I had played on this course before,” he said. “It’s really good. I really like it.”
All the music to the ears of the tournament host Jim furyk.
“It sounds very good … [superintendent] Alain [Brown] and his group have done a phenomenal job, ”he said.
The 81-man field will start attacking the tree-lined fairways and tough push-up greens on Friday in the biggest ever professional event in Timuquana in its history.
Timuquana will join TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium and Dye’s Valley courses; Deerwood Country Club, Hidden Hills Country Club, Atlantic Beach Country Club, Hyde Park and Brentwood as existing First Coast tracks that have hosted PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions or Korn Ferry Tour events.
First national television exhibition
Timuquana has also hosted two USGA National Championships over the past two decades, the 2002 US Senior Amateur and the 2019 US Women’s Four-Ball. It has also been a venue for the US Open sectional qualifiers. and the 2015 Florida Open.
But it will be the most ambitious event to be held on the course, and the first to be broadcast on national television: Golf Channel will broadcast all three rounds of the tournament from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“I think the members are excited and we are good to go,” said General Manager Greg Sheara. “There has been enough anxiety and energy to wait for it, so we’re ready to do it.”
The tournament was announced in March 2020 and this week has been the subject of speculation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and one of the wettest early summers in recent memory.
“A couple of months ago I wasn’t that excited because the weather was pretty tough for us,” Brown said of torrential rains that fell on a course that required drainage and repair work. irrigation starting Jan. 3, 2022. “But the last month has been great and I’m really excited, especially for the members, so see these players on their journey.”
Sheara said the decision to close the course for a 10-day period to prepare it for the PGA Tour champions’ pitch and for tournament week was not an easy one. And unlike a resort like the TPC Sawgrass or the Sea Island Club, the two courses in the area that host PGA Tour events, a private equity club like Timuquana is not a vacation destination that benefits to be on television or to have fans in attendance.
However, Sheara said his members see the greatest good: Constellation is pledging $ 2.6 million to charity out of the five-year balance of the contract.
“As the members watched the construction come to an end, I think their enthusiasm is there,” he said. “The Jim and Tabitha Furyk Foundation and the local charities that benefit from it are certainly a much bigger part of the conversation. Before, when we hosted the USGA Four-Ball, it was just a golf tournament. This week is much more than this. ”
In addition, two of the charities benefiting from Furyk & Friends, the First Tee-North Florida and the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation, also receive assistance from Timquauana.
Sheara also said the notoriety of having the PGA Tour champions in Timuquana, and the exposure on national television, has some long-term health benefit for the oldest existing country club on the First Coast.
“For us, it’s future sustainability,” he said. “We hope this will contribute to our prosperity for the next 25 years. With this exhibition, we hope our members will remain full and if we can maintain our waiting list for the future, make sure we have a healthy number. of members is a real advantage. ”
Players eager for a challenge
When it comes to the character of the golf course, players are eager to tackle the intricacies of Ross design.
“A lot of the greens are pushed and run all around,” Janzen said. “You have to be careful about where you’re going to hit the ball. You just can’t hit it willy-nilly with the pin. That’s how you fight the distance problem. You do it all about positioning. Even the heavy hitters will have to be very careful to get the ball in the right spot. ”
Len Mattiace, who secured a spot on the tournament field in a qualifying game on Monday, said negotiating the greens complexes will be vital.
“The greens are pretty much the big story with runoffs like this,” he said, pointing sternly to the slopes towards the back of the 18th green. “Greens remind me a lot of Pinehurst [Ross’ signature courses in North Carolina], for sure. They can be severe. ”
Montgomerie, who hails from Scotland with Ross, said that doesn’t make him a Ross fan.
“Not particularly,” he said, when asked if he preferred Ross classes. “But it’s a good one.”
Furyk said his only concern was the rain forecast, especially for the first round.
“I’m a little worried about the weather, but it’s something you can’t control,” Furyk said. “We want this course to be firm and fast and you really see the teeth of the greens when they have a little bit of firmness. No course has a lot of defense when it rains, the greens are wet and the guys can throw darts. ”
Renovation of the course to come
Brown said the rough will be around 2 inches and an intermediate rough has been cultivated along the fairways.
“It’s the one thing about this week that we don’t normally have for members,” he said. “We want to give players what our members see every day.”
Brown said green speed will be determined later this week when a more accurate weather forecast arrives near the first round – and after the rules, officials will have a chance to watch putting on both pro-am rounds on Wednesday and Thursday.
The course could be even better for next year’s tournament. Timuquana will close on January 3 for a nine-month renovation project overseen by Bruce Hepner, who learned his trade from Tom Doak. In addition to the drainage and irrigation works, new grass will be planted on the fairways and greens, the greens will be “hollowed out” and the 11th par-4 hole will be redeveloped.
“There aren’t many golf courses like this anymore, especially in this area,” Brown said. “For people to see this hidden gem, it’s special for us. We want it to continue to look like an old classic golf course, and we are trying to do that with golf today. It’s a big challenge. . “
CONSTELLATION FURYK & FRIENDS
When: October 8-10.
Where: Timuquana Country Club.
Who: A peloton comprising the top 21 players on the Charles Schwab Cup points list and 28 of the top 30. Top players include Phil Mickelson, tournament host Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen, Fred Couples, John Daly, Davis Love III and Ryder Cup captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington.
Tickets and parking: visit constellationfurykandfriends.com.