BOSTON (CBS) — TPC Boston had been a regular stop on the PGA Tour since 2003. It hosted what was then known as the Deutsche Bank Championship over Labor Day weekend. The tournament was played Friday through Monday, rather than the typical Thursday through Sunday. In 2018, the Dell Technologies Championship (as it came to be called) ended when the PGA Tour cut the FedExCup Playoffs from four events to three. The event’s end meant TPC Boston no longer had a regular date with the PGA Tour’s best.
It’s time away was short. TPC Boston soon became one of the alternating hosts of the Northern Trust, the first tournament of the FedExCup Playoffs. The 2019 event was held at Liberty National Golf Club, across the Hudson River from New York City. This year it’s TPC Boston’s turn.
>>STREAM: The Northern Trust
While this will be a new venue for the event, it will be a familiar venue for the players. TPC Boston, actually located in Norton, Massachusetts, about 40 miles south of the city, opened in 2002. It has hosted the Tour for most of its existence.
Before TPC Boston was a golf course, the land had been used for charcoal production and lumber. Gravel mined on the site went to help build nearby Interstate 495. After its more industrial uses, the site hosted a flea market.
Originally designed by Arnold Palmer, the first iteration of the course was a par-71, measuring 7,415 yards. The course, which blends in with the natural landscape of the area, was redesigned in 2007 by Gil Hanse, with eight-time Tour winner Brad Faxon consulting. At that time, the course was shortened to 7,207 yards, and most of the holes were changed. The new design affected the layout’s look and feel, giving it the “illusion of antiquity,” as Ron Whitten, Golf Course Architecture Editor, described it, and earning it “Best Private Remodel of 2007” honors from Golf Digest.
Using Hanse’s plans, the course implemented a few more changes in 2009. The rough around the greens for holes three, six, 14 and 17 was reshaped. Deeper rough was added to the 14th and 15th hole fairways, with 15 also receiving a new tee. With the updates, the course played at 7,304 yards.
Hanse returned in 2017 to update the 12th and 13th holes. At that time, new tees were built on the 12th hole, with a couple of bunkers added to the fairway. The green shifted by about 25 yards. The green on the 13th hole was also relocated and received new green-side bunkers.
The course is still a par-71, but now plays at 7,342 yards. Longer and shorter hitters have both found recent success. Top players tend to do well at TPC Boston, with 11 of the 16 winners ranking in the top 15 at the time of their win.
TPC Boston can be tough, but also invites low scores. The course record is 61, held by Vijay Singh (2006) and Mike Weir (2008), while the tournament-winning score averages 17.4-under par. So look for lots of birdies from the PGA Tour’s best, along with the occasional eagle, since two of the course’s three par-5s can be reached in two shots.
However, the seventh hole, at 600 yards, doesn’t fall in that category. It is the longest at TPC Boston and may also be the hardest. A large bunker bisects the fairway, forcing players lay up on their second shot or carry the bunker. Laying up leads to a blind third shot. Either way, birdie is about the best that can be expected.
The 18th hole features what might be the course’s hardest green. The elevated green is on the small side and filled with contours. The hole itself is a par-5 that measures 530 yards. Longer hitters can carry some or even most of the fairway bunkers on their first shot. Laying up on the second shot brings a small, dangerous pot bunker into play. All of this combines for an exciting finish with a wide range of possible scores, from eagle to double-bogey.
Watch The Northern Trust, Saturday, August 22, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET and Sunday, August 23, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. ET on CBS.