TPC Southwind: PGA Tee’s Edition

Course: TPC Southwind, Memphis, TN

Architect: Ron Prichard, with consultants Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zeller

I go to work everyday and pull in the parking lot behind the 2nd green of TPC Southwind. I make my slow walk to the door, looking at the condition of the course and who is out there that day. We have a company membership and but every time I had a chance to play something came up. Last year the week of the US Open I had a foursome booked out there, we get to the range and I’m freaking striping the golf ball. Just as a had a full lather going and it starts storming. We head into the men’s grille to wait it out, but the rain never let up. Talk about bad luck. It took almost an entire year before I could talk Joel into going, (if you read the last review, you will remember him). Joel asked me that week if I wanted to play with him, Stephen (also in last post), and their buddy Jeff. What made it even better was the fact it was the Saturday after the FedEx St. Jude Classic, so the grandstands would still be up and the course would be at tournament level. Needless to say, I was amped.

I made it out there at about 10:30 for our 11:30 tee time. The old dudes were all on the range lubing up their swings, so I fell in line and started my warm up routine. The practice facility out there is top notch. A range is just a range to some people, but I have a certain affection for a good range after growing up beating balls at Colonial Country Club. I hit about 50 golf balls and the group moves over to the putting green to get a feel for the greens. Joel had told us before to “putt half of what you think you see”. This mantra was passed down to a friend of his from none other than John Daly, who still owns a house on the course. We finish up putting and Joel runs in to get a turkey sandwich while we load up on water and Gatorades. Its about 94 degrees and 94% humidity at this point. The turkey sandwich will play an important roll in this round. There had been a lot of talk from the group about what set of tees I should play. There are 7 sets of tees to choose from at Southwind; PGA Tour, Tournament, Players, Blended, Club, Forward, and Family. Joel, Stephen and Jeff said they would play from the Club tee’s but told me to play wherever I wanted to play from. They were definitely pushing me in the direction of the PGA Tour tee’s and I bit. From the PGA Tees the course plays a Par 70 at 7,244 yards. There’s something special about trying to hit the same shots I watched, DJ and Phil hit for four rounds the previous week. I make my way to the tee box, look down the fairway on the slight dog leg left 1st hole, take a deep breath and let it fly.

My drive finds the fairway bunker and runs up toward the front left side. I have to take a front foot out and back leg in stance. I pull my approach shot pin high but 30 yards left of the green. After a decent pitch, I two putt the first to start with a Bogey 5. Joel makes bogey, Stephen makes a nice Par after a huge drive and Jeff makes 7, the first of Triple 7’s. Too bad we weren’t playing slots. Number 2 is a 401-yard dog leg right par 4, the fairway is guarded by pine trees down the right and a fairway bunker on the left side where the fairway turns back to the right. I elect to hit a three wood, it cuts down the right side of the fairway. With 135 yards left, I go with 9 iron. The hole is cut 5 paces behind a deep bunker that guards the front of the green. I come up a yard short and am back on the beach, glad I packed a towel and zinc oxide. I’d say my bunker game is about a 6/10, but I channel my inner Jason Day and hit it to 2 feet and kick in my par. Joel makes a 6, Stephen lost his drive but saves bogey, and Jeff makes 7 after playing a little pinball around the green.

Next is the 554-yard Par 5 3rd, the tee box is way back, and oak trees over hang the fairway on both sides starting about 100 yards from the tee box. I was picturing in my head how DJ had taken a high cut up over the trees and down the left side last Sunday. I guess I was looking for his ball because I topped my drive and barely made it to the ladies’ tee. Not how I wanted to start off my first Par 5. I take a 3-iron hybrid and swing as hard as I can out of the rough. I avoid the lake and end up just clear of the conveniently placed pine tree in the lay up area. The other three guys hit good drives that all come up short of the lake, they all lay up by me for their second shots. The fairway narrows down for the last 150 yards with bunkers down the left up to the green and the lake continuing along the right of the green. It’s a long narrow green with a ridge in the middle. The pin is in front of the ridge. I hit an iron to about 25 feet and 2 putt. Somehow, I escape with par. Joel and Stephen make 6’s while Jeff continues his affection with the number 7. That hole forces you to think about every shot and really is a three-shot par 5 due to the water, narrowing fairway and bunkering. Number 4 plays as a 194-yard Par 3. There is a pond in front of the left 2/3 of the green with a bunker between it and the green. The pin is still in its Sunday location, on the far-left side of the green and 3 paces on from the bunker. I hit a 6 iron thin which takes a bad kick on the collar and goes into the bunker. 3 bunkers in 4 holes, might as well get my lifeguard certification for the summer. I get out of the sand but 2 putt for a bogey. Joel and Stephen keep matching each other with 3’s and Jeff gets off the 7’s and starts on the 5’s. Little did we know the round was about to change a little.

Remember that Turkey sandwich I was talking about that Joel got before we teed off? Well he ate half of it, because he asked for light mayo and the folks in the kitchen dowsed it. We get to the 5th tee box and he says he isn’t feeling good. That he feels like he’s going to pass out. He isn’t sweeting, his vision was blurry, and needed to sit out a couple of holes. We swapped the tea for water and tossed the other half of the sandwich. So now, we were down to 3 golfers and a caddie that gave us more crap than encouragement. I hit a low running, cut drive, not my intentions by any means, but it finds the middle of the fairway. This hole plays a Par 5 for the forward tees and a Par 4 for the back tees. It’s a dog leg right with oak trees all down the right side and a large 100-year-old oak that guards the front right of the green. Stephen and Jeff both hit drives in the fairway and are on the green in 3. I push my iron and end up right under that tree, leaving myself a tough pitch. I’m forced to play out to the right of the flag and end up with a long par putt. I miss and make 5 on the hole. Jeff and Stephen both make their pars on what is a Par 5 for them.   The tee box on #6 backs up to the FedEx World Headquarters. The building sits 15 yards from the box. Joel says, “listen to your drive after you hit it”. I think ok, I hear it every time I hit it. I hit driver and sounds like we were in a racket ball court. The sound bounces off of the building and comes back to you. Pretty cool stuff, especially if you aren’t expecting it. Humble brag here, the ball was mashed, leaving me with only 115 yards into the green. Bet you can guess what I do, I flush a 56 degree over the green. Got to love messing up perfect drives. I’m on a down slope and hit my chip well past the hole leaving another long par putt. Back to Back bogeys don’t help my cause. Stephen found MJ’s special stuff from Space Jam on the last hole and reals off another par. Jeff is straightening things out and stringing some shots together making another 5.

Moving on to the 7th which is a hard, 482-yard par 4. A long bunker down the left pinches the fairway toward 2 large oak trees just off the right side of the fairway. Both of these are in the landing zone for my drive. Bail out city leads me to the trees on the right. My comrades get a nice 120-yard advantage on this hole. They end up in way better shape than I do. With about 190 yards still left up the hill I try to hit a Tiger helicopter 4 iron and run it up there. The cut never happens and I end up with a lost ball in the fescue 50 yards left of the green. Lying 4, my chip runs out leaving me about 15 feet for bogey, again I miss and make double. The greens are super grainy and slick after the tournament……. somehow, I don’t think that’s the reason I’m missing putts. Stephen continues his run of pars and Jeff seems to like the number 5 now. The 8th hole was redone before this year’s tournament. The green was reworked eliminating the bunker in front but making both long and left complete jail. I hit a 7 iron to the dead center of the green avoiding the trouble and kick in a two-putt three. Stephen hits the green and makes his par, while Jeff comes up short and settles for a bogey. Only took the second easiest hole on the course for me to hop off the Bogey Express.

Number 9 Shares a lake with Number 1. It is a hard dog leg right with oak tree’s hugging the right side, with a green that is protected by the lake in front. I hit what I thought was going to be a perfect tee ball, running thru the dog leg. However, it got caught in a berm just off the fairway on the right-hand side. I have a clear line to the green, 150 yards, stock 9 iron and I freaking roast it, the after burners were on and the rocket landed on the huge hill behind the green. If there was no hill there, it would have landed 40 yards over the green in the clubhouse. Needless to say, you aren’t supposed to be there and my score reflected it. I hit the best chip possible, managing to keep it on the green and two putted from there to close out the 9 with another bogey. Stephen ends his streak of pars with a 7 and Jeff gets in one more 5 on this nine. The damage, out in 42 for myself and Stephen. Jeff turned it around on the back half of that nine and finished with a 50. All things considered, I’ll take it. The front nine really showed me the premium this course puts on driving accuracy. If you miss the fairway or hit a weak tee shot (not making it past the ladies tees), the fight for par is on.

We swing thru to the outdoor bar, grab a couple more Gatorades and waters. Not thought in my mind about a beer. Anything you put in was coming straight out of you, this was a strict hydration mission. Update on our caddy Joel, he still isn’t feeling up to playing but he has been giving us plenty of grief. We head to the 10th tee. This is a nasty hole, 465 yards, downhill, creek that crosses the fairway at about 275 yards coming from a lake that is in play on the right, and a big mess of trees on the left side of the dog leg. It’s less than drive for me and what do I do, try to get cute and hit a rope draw, get quick and top it about 75 yards. Yes, it happens to the best of us, and sometimes twice in a round. I hit the same hybrid I did on 3, end up under a tree about 2 feet from that lake I mentioned before. I’m about 135 out with a limb hanging 8 feet off the ground right in my line. If I clip it, the ball lands in the creek. I grab a four iron, open up my stance and hit a punch cut about 6 feet of the ground, run it up to the green and runs off the back of the green. 3 putts later and I’ve made 6. Stephen doesn’t fair much better, carding a 6 and Jeff makes a 5. Not the way I wanted to start the back nine and especially going into Southwind’s version of the Island Green.

The 11th is playing 160 yards, so I take an 8 iron, try to block everything out, including the construction workers taking apart the grandstand right next to me. I hit it a little fat and end up in the water. Shit. On to the drop zone, “mental thought”, you better not leave this short. What do you think I did? Yep, I hit a 60 degree over the green and into the sand. I chip out of the sand and two putt for a 6. This is going swimmingly, I considered jumping in the lake. Stephen and Jeff did what you are supposed to do and hit the green and made par. On the walk to the 12th tee I tried to shake it off. Without really looking at the hole, which is a dog leg right with a lake down the entire length of the hole, I grabbed driver. Pissed off, I try to kill it and hit a draw OB left. I take my drop, hit a 6 iron 196 yards to a back right pin with water on 3 sides of the green. It lands about 15 feet from the hole and two putt for my 5. That’s probably the best bogey I’ve ever made in my life. I had lost my focus completely and went full rage mode and came away with a 5. That three hole stretch kicks you where the sun doesn’t shine. Stephen makes another par and Jeff makes a 5 as well.

13 starts my favorite stretch of holes, which is 13, 14, 15, 16. This takes you to the far end of the property. The 13th is a 472 yard par 4 up the hill turning slightly to the right with fairway bunkers in the landing area on the right side. DJ recorded the longest drive on Tour to date on this hole with a 359 yard drive. I hit mine about 290 and had a 6 iron into the green. Hitting it to about 25 feet, I two put for a par. Thus far, I can count 2 legit birdie opportunities on my round. Stephen and Jeff don’t hit their best tee shots causing them to make a 5 and 6 respectively. The 14th is one of the more photographed and televised holes on the course. It’s a long, down hill over water, forced carry, Par 3 that from the Pro tees is playing 239 yards. This is a 4 iron, all gas, to maybe get there. The flag is in the middle of the green which is protected by the lake and bunkers behind it. The play is aim at the left side of the green and hit a slight fade and if it goes straight you end up in the collection area. DOUBLE CROSS. Dang it Webb! 30 yard pull hook long and into the fescue. This leaves me a down hill 45 yard pitch, over the bunker, and the lake behind me. I somehow keep it on the green but that doesn’t do me much good. Three puts later and another double bogey. On the back nine, I’ve played the Par 3’s +5. That’s not a winning formula. Stephen joins me with a 5 and Jeff picks up another 3 on this side. The par 4 15th is my favorite hole on the course. It’s at the lowest part of the course and is completely shaded. It plays 395 yards on the card, with a creek crossing the fairway about 100 yards shy of the green as it turns to the left. I get cute again and take a hybrid and block it dead right into the trees. I find my ball and try to punch out to the fairway but don’t quite make it there. I hit a 9 iron just off the green and nearly make my chip but have to settle for another bogey. Jeff and Stephen make 6’s after wayward tee shots, and some flirting with the creek. Like I said earlier this course makes you hit it in the fairway. The next hole is the uphill Par 5 16th. Listed at 530 yards it feels like 600. I hit a drive up the left side of the fairway which forces me to try and hit a big hook for my second shot. It’s not well struck but will work as a lay-up. I miss the green with my third but don’t get up and down. I settle for Bogey. Stephen and Jeff both make par putting them ahead of me on the back 9.

The grandstands, skyboxes and tents still being up from the tournament added to the atmosphere. It is amazing how much it shrinks the golf course. The 17th is a downhill, rolling par 4 with a creek at about 320 yards, leaving you another 170 after that to the green. I pipe my drive and am sitting pretty looking at the green. I hit a solid 7 iron from 180 and have a look at birdie. I miss my birdie opportunity but save par. On to the 18th which from the way back intimidates the hell out of you. The hole is a 450 yard dog leg left with a lake down the entire length of the hole on the left side. On the right you have 3 fairway bunkers and if you hit a driver straight you will end up in them. You saw where DJ holed out for eagle from on the way to a 7 shot victory the week prior. That is the safe area on this hole. I decided to let it all hang out. I aim at the corner of the lake and smoke a power fade past it, leaving me 150 yards into the green. I just wish DJ would have been there so I could flex on him one time. Back to reality, standing behind the ball on the closing hole with the skyboxes behind the green is a pretty cool feeling. Too bad I’m not a smoother golfer, I’m just off the green on the right after a timid 9 iron but manage to get up and down to finish out the round. Stephen and Jeff both finished the day with back to back 5’s.

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Time to assess the damage. The par on 18 gives me a 45 on the back, and an 87 for the round. Stephen finishes with a 44 on the back giving him medalist honors with an 86. Jeff had the best back 9 score with a 43, giving him a 93 for the round. All things considered, I’m pleased with my score considering I made some stupid mistakes. I played it as it lies, counted every stroke, on a course that the pro’s played the week before. People have mixed opinions about playing from the Tips on a PGA Tour Level course. I say do it once at least, because it adds an entirely different element to the round. Once again, this was a great round. This was my first time playing with Stephen and Jeff. Stephen is a heck of a golfer and Jeff showed the kind of player he is on the back. Next time you go to Seminole, holler at me Jeff. All that aside, golf allows for people who have never met, to play a game that in four hours, you get to know each other, joke, laugh and compete and by the end of the round you walk away with friendships. It’s a wonderful game we have the privilege to play.

Overall, TPC Southwind continues to be one of the toughest courses on tour year in and year out. I got a face full of that on this outing. The place is in immaculate condition throughout the year. The champion Bermuda greens are fast and tough to read even for the pro’s. The course has a lot of variety, the only thing missing is a true drivable par 4 but other than that there are no complaints from me. Every hole had trouble in the places you wanted to play it safe. To score well, you had to hit quality shots. Easier said than done. I definitely recommend playing the course in and around the tournament because you are guaranteed to be playing it in peak condition. I personally thought Southwind was more challenging than Spring Creek Ranch, a course which I will review soon. It’s a classic Championship style course but there is trouble at every turn. I’m going to rank it at an 8.4/10.

For more information about the course visit:

If you have any courses you’d like me to play/review tweet at me @GolfTight

 

Be on the look out for some merch coming soon…..Stay out of the Tight Lies this weekend,

Webb

 

 

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