My brother-in-law, Matt Beauchamp, has been down south the past several weeks where he has caddied in two LPGA events and even found some time to hit the links himself. He had the chance to play the PGA West Stadium Course and was kind of enough to share his thoughts and photos of the experience. Please enjoy.
The PGA West – Stadium course is one of those courses you see the pros play, shoot ridiculously low scores and think, I bet I could play pretty good there.
However, then you see it ranked as Golf Digests 4th toughest course to play in America and wonder what you’ve got yourself into.
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to tee it up there and let me tell you, a Career Builder Challenge win is way off for me.
The Stadium Course at PGA West is a Pete Dye designed gem. If I could sum this course up I would say that it delivers on everything that has made Pete Dye famous. More on that later.
As we drove through the PGA West community approaching the course you could see the beauty of the area unfolding before you. We parked at the front and were greeted by friendly valet staff ready to take our clubs and our car and get us on our way.
As we headed to the pro shop the first thing you’ll notice is that it is massive. After checking in, we took a few minutes to look around at the well stocked pro shop. If you want it, they have it.
We then headed to our carts, eager to get in some practice swings before we tackled the 6739 yard course (7300 from the championship tees). Unfortunately for us, PGA West does routine range work every week on Tuesday and Wednesday from 12:30 to 2:30. This left us a little perplexed and made it so that our first swings of the day were on the first hole. If I could offer a tip to PGA West it would be to do this maintenance outside of prime time when many golfers would like to warm up before their round.
The course itself starts out with a relatively simple par 4. As you make your approach to the green however, you notice the intimidating visual design of the course start to take shape.
Pete Dye is known for his course designs that visually strike fear into golfers from the tee, and this course is no different. Standing on many tee shots – especially the 223 yard, par 3, 6th hole with a 205 yard carry over water – you’re left feeling as if you don’t have the game to make the right shot. The genius of these designs however, is that there is – in fact – ample room for your tee shots, you just need to steer your eye’s away from the hazards on any given hole.
The green complexes were all challenging. Small green sizes put a premium on your approach shot making skills, however once you are on the greens, the putts you are left with are all fair and makeable. At no point did I feel the greens didn’t give me an opportunity to make a score.
The entire course uses the stunning visual of the Santa Rosa Mountains as a backdrop, and if the beauty of the course isn’t enough for you, than the mountains certainly encourage you to take a second to appreciate your surroundings.
As we approached the tough Par 5, 16th hole with one of the more famous bunkers in golf, I decided to put myself in that green side bunker purely for research purposes for this article. Happily, I can say I managed to get out first try! It’s not important where I got out to.
Dufner’s plaque for his ‘escape from Alcatraz‘:
As we wound our way down 18, the hole felt very different than the one you see on TV, but was easily as beautiful and challenging.
This course was a tough challenge – as it’s 73.1 course rating from the championship and 75.8 rating from the tournament tees can attest to – however it was a very fair course. Visually intimidating, but approachable. I left the 18th green wanting to turn around and tee it up again as I was sure I could better my score with another chance. This, in my opinion, is the mark of a great course. One that makes you want to head right back out to tackle it again.
For more pictures of the Stadium course as well as Matt’s adventures caddying on the LPGA visit his Instagram page.