With rare exception, players who uttered public proclamations about the redesigned TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas course offered glowing reviews about the home course of the EDS Byron Nelson Championship during last week's event.
Sure, the typical nitpicks surfaced about difficult pin locations or being forced to play the back tees, rather than moving up to closer tees during windy conditions (both are decisions by PGA Tour rules officials, not course flaws). But the general feedback seemed overwhelmingly favorable.
Tony Navarro, caddie for Nelson champion Adam Scott, even went so far as to say: "I think you'll see at least four of the top 10 players come back here next year. This is what the top golfers are looking for ... A good test, but a fair test."
Based on a report posted on PA Sports Ticker, however, Navarro apparently isn't speaking for all caddies. Or all players.
The report cites an unnamed caddie saying he "spoke to a dozen players and not one had anything positive to say about the changes" made by architect D.A. Weibring during the off-season.
In the Web site report, the caddied added: "The course certainly looks better but everybody thinks they have made the greens even worse. The slopes are too severe, especially on some of the holes where you're coming in with a long iron."
And this was the kicker: "There's no way they'll ever get a great field here again, which is a shame, because the tournament could not treat us better," the unnamed caddie said. "The bottom line is that players set their schedule by the quality of the course first, the schedule second. Even a better date on the schedule won't help much if they don't like the course."
I couldn't agree more about the importance of dates and courses. I just don't believe that one unnamed caddie speaks for the masses.
The acid test will come in 2009, when the Nelson shifts to May dates that, theoretically, should help lure more elite golfers to Irving. The 2008 Nelson field included only one top-10 player from the world golf rankings (Scott), lowest in recent memory. If there is no increase in star power at the 2009 Nelson field, the unnamed caddie's words will carry more weight in retrospect.
For now, he qualifies as a minority voice. Let's let the test of time see if he proves to be a prophet.
Admittedly, most of the players who spoke in support of the revamped Nelson course fell into one of three categories: 1) golfers who played well during the tournament; 2) guys who were involved with the redesign effort or hopeful that it will succeed; 3) players who understand that PGA Tour officials don't like seeing golfers quoted about trashing tour venues, especially one that just underwent a $10 million overhaul.
After Sunday's final round, one veteran player was overheard telling friends that he did not like the course before the redesign and his attitude had not changed after playing 72 holes at the revamped layout. That's one player, who did not want to be quoted, to go along with an unnamed caddie, who did not allow his name to be attached to his quotes.
Harrison Frazar, a Dallas resident and PGA Tour participant who served as a consultant during the Nelson redesign project, said the feedback he received from players -- before and during the tournament -- was overwhelmingly positive.
"The feedback that I've heard from the top players is ... as soon as the schedule gets better, they'll be back," Frazar said.
The schedule should improve in 2009, when the Nelson is scheduled to be played on May 21-24. We'll see then how well the players truly liked the revamped Nelson layout.
Here is the link to the PA Sports Ticker report.
-- Jimmy Burch