Continued Refinements at Bay Hill Club


Founder and host approves change to par-70 layout for Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard

Ceaseless in his love for and devotion to the game of golf and tireless in his efforts to make one of the best PGA TOUR events better, Arnold Palmer continues to make refinements to his Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida, in preparation for the 2007 edition of his tournament, which has been renamed the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.

While only minor adjustments have been made to Palmer's prized layout since Rod Pampling's victory last year, players may find the scoring dynamics a bit different. That's because the Championship Course will be adjusted down to a par-70 configuration for this year's 29th edition March 12-18, though it remains par 72 for the membership. Two par-5 holes, the fourth and 16th, are being converted to par-4s, though their yardage won't change much; the fourth will measure about 480 yards while the 16th will be close to 500 yards. The course's overall yardage of 7,267 won't be diminished appreciably.

"It's something I've been thinking about for a few years now, and I figured it was time, simply for the way the game is progressing along," Palmer says. "You look at how they approach certain holes – most of the guys are hitting irons into 16. It's playing as par-4 anyway. So I thought we should take a look at this. I think this will make it more interesting for the overall tournament in relation to par."

Other adjustments to the golf course are of a cosmetic variety. Most prominent is a renovation of the bunkers. The edges have been cut, which makes them slightly larger and gives them a cleaner look. New white sand has been installed for consistency of appearance as well as playability. The remainder of the layout, from the denseness of the rough to the speed of the greens, is being cultivated for optimum playing conditions.

Palmer's Bay Hill course has always been one of the top challenges on the PGA TOUR. With its humps, mounds and bunkers protecting large, firm greens, and its broad fairways lined by thick rough, the Championship Course presents a series of difficult but fair holes. Last year, amid placid playing conditions, Bay Hill ranked in the middle of the pack on the PGA TOUR in terms of difficulty, with the field averaging 72.225 strokes.

"The golf course is probably as good or better than ever," Palmer says. "I say that every year, and every year I think we manage to make it a little bit better, a little more challenging. I think the players will find it in great shape and provide the kind of test that a golf course should. If you take care of the golf course first then everything else sort of falls into place."

For tickets to the 2007 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard or for more information, log on to the tournament web site, or call the Bay Hill Club ticket office at 407-876-7774 or toll free at 1-866-764-4843. Tournament proceeds benefit the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.