TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm

2. A NEW LOOK

Rory Sabbatini and Adam Scott are part of the bridge from the old TPC Potomac to the new TPC Potomac. The 2003 and 2004 Booz Allen Classic champions will play a different track in their 40s than they did in their 20s.

After the competition left TPC Potomac, then TPC Avenel, in 2006, the layout was modernized with a major renovation of the course. The Rock Run Stream Valley, one of the main tributaries of the Potomac River, had been severely eroded by the end of Booz Allen’s tenure, causing frequent flooding. The renovation restored 5,000 linear feet of the main stream and 2,250 linear feet of eroded riverbanks, improving the presence of water on the plaza while paving the way for a new, modern irrigation system.

The renovation also saw the addition of 15 acres of trees, restructuring the course to a 7,124-yard par 70, and remodeling the bunkers to their intended Mid-Atlantic style while adding a few Scottish-style traps. Greens, tees and fairways were rebuilt with bentgrass.

The 2006-08 renovation also dramatically changed the center of the square. The sixth par 5 hole has been converted into a long par 4. The par 3 9th hole has been remodeled while the 10th and 11th holes have been combined into a par 5 10th hole played around the restored creek. The 12th hole became the 11th hole and the par 5 13th hole was split into a par 3 12th hole and a short par 4 13th hole.

TPC Avenel was now TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. The name was intended to pay tribute to the history of Avenel Farm, once Maryland’s largest shorthorn cattle ranch, while heralding a new era for the PGA TOUR’s TPC Network venue.

3. ARNIE’S ACES

TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm made its debut in 1986 through a few legends. It served as the inaugural venue for the Chrysler Cup, a senior team event featuring a US squad under Captain Arnold Palmer and an international squad under Captain Gary Player. This would serve as a precursor to the 1987 arrival of the Booz Allen Classic.

On the Tuesday before the event, a week before his 57th birthday, Palmer was playing a practice round when he hit a 5-iron on the 182-yard par-3 3rd hole and watched the ball land and go straight into rolled the cup – the first hole-in-one on one of golf’s newest competitive lanes.

The next day, Palmer hit another nice iron shot on the pin on the same hole with the same club. “Don’t go back into the hole,” he shouted. “Do not do that!” It did.

Palmer’s amazing two-fer marked his 12th and 13th career ace, and a plaque was promptly placed on the third tee. He would credit his hole-in-one theatrics as important in publicizing the Chrysler Cup in its freshman year. A TV camera had caught the (second) hole-in-one on Wednesday and while the world was still 20 years from Twitter, local TV news picked up the clip while newspaper writers worldwide gushed over the unlikely feat.

4. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

In the last few years of the Booz Allen, TOUR pros had figured out TPC Potomac. Adam Scott won in 2004 with a total of 21 under. Ben Curtis followed with a score of 20 under and won in 2006.

But after the renovation, the grades cooled off. Mark O’Meara shot 7 under to win the 2010 Senior PLAYERS at TPC Potomac. On the Korn Ferry Tour, David Lingmerth shot 8-under to win there in 2012, as did Michael Putnam in 2013. When the PGA TOUR returned in 2017, Kyle Stanley defeated Charles Howell III in a playoff, with both players finishing 72 holes at 7-under.

Francesco Molinari was the exception to the rule, shooting a post-renovation record 21-under to win here in 2018. But to be fair, runner-up Ryan Armor was all the way back at 13 under. And as history now shows, Molinari was set to play golf without lights for the next several months.

This Wells Fargo Championship probably won’t be a birdie fest. The new TPC Potomac offers more water hazards, more tree problems and more distance at a lower par. It’s no pushover.

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