ORLANDO, FL - Arnold Palmer hosted select national and local media at his Bay Hill home course Tuesday September 29th to unveil the course changes he and his design company recently completed. The par on the Bay Hill course is now 72 (7,400 yards), from 70 (7,162 yards), which should yield more birdies at the upcoming 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
"We're going to go with four par 4s again, with the thinking that the galleries and the people enjoy seeing players make birdies. said Palmer. "We're going to give them an opportunity to make birdies."
The media day at Bay Hill started with breakfast followed by golf, lunch, Q&A and the property was open for tours, including the design office where Palmer's Bay Hill changes were meticulously planned.
Palmer treated 10 foursomes to play the newly-renovated course by setting up groups of three media members paired with a staff member from Bay Hill, Arnold Palmer Design Company, Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard and the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy.
Palmer's staff included:
Bay Hill: Roy Saunders, Blake Terry, Brian Kennedy
Arnold Palmer Design Company: Eric Wiltse, Thad Layton, David Couch and Brandon Johnson
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard: Scott Wellington
Arnold Palmer Golf Academy: John O'Leary, Tom Garner
Quite a number of golf publications and local print media were in attendance including The Golf Channel and local Channel 6 Orlando and were able to engage directly on the course with Palmer's design company architects andBay Hill grounds crew Matt Beaver and John Anderson to discuss the renovation specifics in detail.
In 2008, Bay Hill was ranked No. 18 out of 54 for course difficulty on the PGA Tour. Changing holes 4 and 16 from par 4 holes to par 5 holes is not going to make the course play any easier.The shifted and reshaped fairway bunkers on these holes add a new dimension while increasing birdie opportunities.
Also benefiting from the increase in birdies will be the "Birdies for Babies" program which benefits one of the tournament's official charities, the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies at the Arnold Palmer Medical Center in Orlando.
Then there is Hole No. 17 which is already known as one of golf's most difficult par 3s. Palmer made it slightly more intimidating by reshaping and extending the beach bunker, increasing the number of pin locations along the perimeter of the green and reshaping bunkers that are closer to the green surface.
Bay Hill has recently been listed as one of the top 50 resorts in Golf World's second annual "Readers' Choice Awards." Golf World readers based their evaluation of the nation's golf facilities on 13 different performance criteria, such as quality of the course, course conditions, reputation/prestige and service. More than 46,000 individual facility ratings were received and the top 50 courses in each category, as voted on by their readers. The pre-renovation ranking will be published in the September 28 issue of Golf World.
Palmer expects excitement with the new birdie making potential when Tiger Woods returns to defend his title at the 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
"There's a risk-reward situation there, I like that." said Palmer. "I'm really pleased with the outcome."