TPC POTOMAC AT AVENEL FARM
Course Architects: Edmund Ault/Thomas Clark and Associates (1986),
(Ed Sneed, PGA Tour Player Consultant),
PGA Tour Design (redesign, 2005),
Steve Wenzloff/Jim Hardy (redesign/renovation 2007-09),
Davis Love III, Fred Funk (PGA Tour Player Consultants),
Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Gil Hanse (Architectural Consultants)
Year Opened: 1986, Re-opened: April, 2009
Location: Potomac, Maryland
Slope: 145. Rating: 74.9
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 440 Yds 10 - Par 5 560 Yds
2 - Par 5 619 Yds 11 - Par 4 470 Yds
3 - Par 3 225 Yds 12 - Par 3 168 Yds
4 - Par 4 440 Yds 13 - Par 4 360 Yds
5 - Par 4 365 Yds 14 - Par 4 299 Yds
6 - Par 4 484 Yds 15 - Par 4 490 Yds
7 - Par 4 452 Yds 16 - Par 4 412 Yds
8 - Par 4 467 Yds 17 - Par 3 222 Yds
9 - Par 3 201 Yds 18 - Par 4 465 Yds
Par 35 3,693 Yds Par 35 3,446 Yds
Key Events Held: Chrysler Cup (1986),
Kemper Open (1987-2000),
Kemper Insurance Open (2001-02),
FBR Capital Open (2003),
Booz Allen Classic (2004, 2006),
Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship (2010),
Neediest Kids Championship - Web.com Tour (2012),
Quicken Loans National (2017).
Awards Won: America's 100 Best Golf Shops - Golf World Business (2000-05),
Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary (2003-06, 2010),
Ranked #14 by Golf Digest - Best Courses in Maryland (2009-10),
#12 by GolfWeek Magazine - Best New Golf Courses (2009),
Best New Courses by Links Magazine (2009).
HISTORY: The TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm was the fifth Club designed in the
TPC Network of golf courses around the country. Opened in May, 1986, the
TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm is one of 19 private TPC venues in the United
States and was the third stadium course to be constructed and the first to
plant fairways in zoysia grass.
Local architectural firm Ault/Clark and Associates, along with PGA player
consultant Ed Sneed, were called in to design the golf course for a measly
$60,000. That's right. In today's day and age when Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus
and Tom Doak get millions, the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm was crafted for only
five figures. Of course, the renovation work that begun in 2007, reached $32
Avenel was developed over 220 acres in Potomac, Maryland's rolling
countryside, just minutes away from famed Congressional Country Club. The
course was originally crafted as a perfect stadium golf facility, designed
for hosting a PGA Tour event.
Avenel was a huge success as soon as it opened, well at least for Arnold
Palmer. The "King" made back-to-back aces on the par-three third hole prior to
the start of the 1986 Chrysler Cup. During a practice round on Tuesday,
Palmer, the captain of the U.S. team, made a hole-in-one with a five-iron on
the then 182-yard hole. The next day was the pro-amateur event and Palmer,
again using a five-iron, made a one -- the first time that back-to-back aces
were recorded on any professional tour. Just an FYI: Palmer missed the green
during the opening round of the event as he tried for three straight.
The overall sentiments of the players were not favorable. From a poor design,
constant flooding and horrific drainage problems, which resulted in less than
adequate conditions, most of the top players stayed away.
Beginning in 1987, the PGA Tour began its run at Avenel with the Kemper Open,
where former U.S. Open champion Tom Kite was a runaway winner by seven over
Chris Perry and Howard Twitty. The following year, Kite lost in a playoff to
Morris Hatalsky, as Mo-Cat sank a five-foot par putt for the win. The 1980s
were completed with a Tom Byrum five-shot win over three players for his first
and only PGA Tour title.
Gil Morgan shot four sub-par rounds in 1990 to edge a hard-charging Ian Baker-
Finch by one shot. Morgan, who started the final round three shots back, shot
69 for the win, while Baker-Finch, who trailed by seven, closed with 66. Billy
Andrade became a first-time winner in 1991, as he birdied the first playoff
hole to defeat Jeff Sluman. Andrade shot four rounds in the 60s to tie Sluman
at a tournament-record total of 263, a mark that stood throughout tournament
Bill Glasson captured his second Kemper Open and first at Avenel in 1992, as
he edged four players, including John Daly, by one shot. Grant Waite foiled
Tom Kite's bid for a second title with his first and only PGA Tour title in
1993. Kite, leading by one heading into the final round, shot 72 to Waite's 70
to finish one behind.
Two shots behind Bobby Wadkins with one round to play, Mark Brooks carded his
fourth straight round in the 60s to clip Wadkins and D.A. Weibring by three
shots in 1994. Lee Janzen defeated Corey Pavin with a 12-foot birdie on the
first extra hole to capture the 1995 tournament. Janzen, who shot four rounds
in the 60s, won the last playoff in the event's storied history.
One shot off the pace with one round remaining, Steve Stricker carded his
fourth straight round in the 60s to post a three-shot victory over four
players in 1996 with his wife Nicki on the bag. Justin Leonard won for the
second time in his career when he captured the 1997 Kemper Open. Leonard, who
opened with three straight 69s, closed with 67 to defeat Mark Wiebe by one.
Nick Faldo, Nick Price and Greg Norman finished three behind.
The 1998 title went to Stuart Appleby, who became the second International
player to win at Avenel. Despite a one-over 72, Appleby defeated Scott Hoch by
one shot. Appleby secured the win with a three-iron to within 15 feet on the
final hole and two-putted for par. Rich Beem led, or was tied for the lead,
from start to finish in 1999, as he won for the first time on the PGA Tour.
Beem's total of 274 was one clear of Bill Glasson and Bradley Hughes.
For the second straight year, a first-time winner was crowned, as Tom Scherrer
came from two behind on Sunday to post a two-shot win in 2000. Scherrer was
the only player to post all four rounds in the 60s. When Frank Lickliter won
in 2001, he became the ninth player in the last 19 years to make this
tournament his first PGA Tour victory. The 2001 event was completed on Monday
for the first time due to inclement weather.
Tied for the lead after three rounds with Bob Burns, Bob Estes carded a Sunday
71 to edge 1999 champion Rich Beem by one shot for his fourth career title in
2002. Burns, who aced the old 11th hole during the final round, finished tied
for third after a one-over 72. Estes carded 17 pars and one birdie, but
trailed by one with three holes remaining. Burns, who held the lead, would
relinquish the advantage with a costly double-bogey on 16 while Estes
parred the final two holes for victory. Beem carded four rounds in the 60s,
including back-to-back 69s over the weekend.
Rory Sabbatini returned to the winner's circle for the first time in three
years in 2003, as he closed with back-to-back 68s for a four-shot win. With
his victory, Sabbatini became the fourth player in the last five years to
either hold or share the 54-hole lead and go on to victory. The 2003 event
changed names to the FBR Capital Open.
Another sponsor change: The 2004 tournament became the Booz Allen Classic.
Adam Scott set records en route to victory, as he tied the tournament mark of
21-under-par 263 for a four-shot win over Charles Howell III. At the tender
age of 23 years, 11 months and 11 days, Scott became the second-youngest
winner of this event behind Fred Couples, the 1983 champion. Scott set a new
36-hole mark of 128 and tied the 54-hole record of 195. Howell opened the
event with a course-record of 61 and led Scott by five shots, however Scott
shot 62 during the second round and was never headed.
After some brief redesign work in 2005 by the PGA Tour, the tournament
returned to Avenel in '06, as Ben Curtis, three years removed from his British
Open title, endured six days of inclement weather to capture his second
career title. Curtis' total of 264 was one shy of the tournament record and
he won by five shots over four players. Rain and lightning plagued the event
from start to finish, as this event was the first Tuesday climax since the
1980 Tucson Open. Curtis, who hit 83.3 percent of the fairways for the week
and led from start to finish, had a chance to break the tournament mark, but a
bogey-bogey finish ended his chances.
Following this event, the layout was reinvented by the PGA Tour design team,
led by Steve Wenzloff and Jim Hardy and completed in the spring of 2009. In
addition, over 50 PGA Tour players, including Davis Love III and local player
Fred Funk added their expertise, not to mention architects Dye, Tom Fazio and
Not only was the course and clubhouse renovated, but it took on a name change
in 2008. Originally called TPC Avenel, it was renamed TPC Potomac at Avenel
Farm, thus paying tribute to the region's historical past, as the state's
largest short-horned cattle farm.
The changes were significant to say the least.
To start off with, all greens, tees and fairways were rebuilt with Bentgrass
and a completely new irrigation and drainage system was installed. In
addition, Rock Run Stream Valley was completely restored throughout the
This was followed with a re-grading of all holes, a re-contouring of all green
complexes and a re-positioning and re-shaping of all bunkers
To top if off, the "Stadium" concept was removed, and a more natural feel was
woven into the renovation. Most of the notable differences were made to holes
six, nine and 10 through 13.
From an awkward par five, the sixth was converted into a par four, moving the
green to the left side of the restored creek.
Although some called the original ninth the course's signature hole, the
design team made the most dramatic change here, shifting the putting surface
up the hillside to the left from it's 40-foot drop.
Numbers 10 and 11 were combined to make a par five and the original 12th was
transformed into the new 11th hole.
A brand new hole was created for the 12th, a wonderful, uphill par three with
stone walls surrounding the tee complex and playing over a gorge to an
Finally, the 13th is now a sensational par four from its original par-five
status, with another elevated and well-protected putting surface.
Not only were these changes made, but a new practice facility, short-game area
and clubhouse enhancements were completed. A perfect recipe for a professional
The Champions Tour made its mark in 2010 at TPC Potomac, as Mark O'Meara sank
a three-and-a-half-foot par putt on the first extra hole to clip Michael Allen
at the Senior Players Championship. O'Meara, the only player in the field with
four sub-par rounds (68-68-69-68), two-putted from 30 feet in the playoff for
the win. For the week, the players averaged over 2 1/2 strokes over par at
HOLE BY HOLE ANALYSIS: Originally a 393-yard par four that bent to the right,
the opening hole has been transformed into a rugged 440-yard, dogleg right
that now requires length and accuracy. Playing uphill from the tee, the
fairway is protected on either side by long bunkers. A medium to long iron
will remain to a long and narrow green that was shifted back some 30 yards.
Any shot offline to either side will be gobbled up by a pair of difficult
bunkers and deep greenside rough. If you're fortunate, an opening par is not a
bad way to start.
No. 2 is the longest hole on the course, a whopping 619 yards from the black
tees. This par five bends to the right and plays downhill towards the green. A
massive strike off the tee and down the right side can cut the corner of the
dogleg, but be wary of the thick rough, sand and tall trees that guard the
bend. Your second shot is not as simple this time around, as the lay up area
is now a split fairway with thick gnarly rough and a stream. Clear this
hazardous area and you'll find a tight landing area, but an easier approach.
The putting surface maintained its very long (44 paces) and boomerang-shaped
style. A back-left flag could be quite difficult, since a deep bunker looms
large, short and left.
Arnold Palmer put the third hole and the course on the map with his back-to-
back aces in 1986. This monster of a par-three has been shortened to 225
yards, but is now rated as the 11th most difficult hole on the course. The
putting surface is long and not as wide as previous, but features a shaved
chipping area in front of the green with three bunkers situated around the
surface. Slightly downhill, the real danger is short-right, as a creek and
trees come into play. Shoot for bogey and maybe, just maybe, you might sink a
short putt for par or better yet, snake in a 20 footer for a deuce like I did.
Aesthetically, the fourth is one beautiful hole, with a lake left and tall
trees right. Scoring-wise, you better be on your toes. Although the fairway is
very wide, it slopes from right to left and any ball hit towards the left will
most certainly end up wet. A play down the right will set up a medium iron to
a well-guarded green. The putting surface, now 20 yards further back, slopes
from back to front, with sand now right and a grass hollow to the left. Talk
about pinpoint accuracy, the green is just 29 paces, making it the second
smallest on the course. During the 2010 Senior Players Championship, the
fourth played as the most difficult for the week with an average score of
The fifth is a fun, short par four that bends to the left with a myriad of
traps down the right and a deep sandy grave to the left of the fairway. The
real key here is finding the right distance to lay up from the tee with either
a fairway metal or a long iron. Some of the bigger hitters might be enticed to
smack a drive down the left and clear the gaping trap. Regardless, your
approach will be to a difficult, now slightly elevated green that features a
ridge in the center of the 33-yard deep surface. Two very deep bunkers guard
the entrance to the narrow green. It's a definite birdie hole, especially with
a successful tee shot.
One of the biggest changes to the course came at the previously hated sixth.
Originally a par five of 520 yards, the hole was transformed into a wonderful,
yet very difficult par four of 484 yards. One of the issues was with the
putting surface, which was just six paces deep and placed precariously behind
a creek. Now this dogleg right winds around a creek-fed marshy area to the
right with thick rough to the left. With a successful tee shot, a mid to long
iron will remain to a decent-sized target that runs away to the right towards
the creek, which now sits behind the green. Any shot long and right will
result in a lost ball, so bail out left, as most shots funnel down towards the
The dogleg-right, par-four seventh is a gem, stretching 452 yards from the
back buttons. A blast of over 220 yards is required just to reach the elevated
fairway. The wide fairway is accessible, but beware of the added bunkers on
both sides of the landing area. A medium iron should be enough to get home to
the slightly-downhill green. The putting surface is wide and long with sand
right and left. A back-right flag with the wind in your face could be one of
the most difficult shots on the course, especially with the shaved chipping
area to the right. It comes as no surprise that it's rated the most difficult
hole on the course.
A fairly straight par four, the eighth is difficult due to its length and
narrow putting surface. One of five 400-plus par fours on the front side, the
key here is your tee ball, which much reach the crest of the fairway, as this
will lead to some extra roll and thus an easier approach. A mid-iron should
suffice, but you must be precise, as the green is quite shallow, although
wide. Bunkers short and deep will provide extra incentive to reach the
promised land. With a back-left flag and a left-to-right sloped green, just
play to the center, two-putt and move on. Not a hole to take chances on.
Another enormous change came at the par-three ninth. It was just 166 yards
long and played downhill to a green that dropped 40 feet to the longest
putting surface on the course and a creek front and right. During the 1987
tournament, Greg Norman made double-bogey, blowing his chances for victory,
and was heard later to have said, "They should blow it up." Well, they did.
Although still playing slightly downhill, the green is now positioned well to
the left and stretches just over 200 yards. The putting surface maintains its
length with two bunkers left and two right. The duo that sits right are well
below the green. In fact, you'll be hard-pressed to see the flagstick if your
tee shot ends up in one.
Talk about changes, the 10th went from a nondescript, straightaway par four
to a robust, 560-yard dogleg left par five. Combing both the previous 10th and
11th holes, the new 10th features a wide landing area off the tee, devoid of
sand, but featuring thick rough and hazardous area down the entire left side.
Bailing out right is the play, but will make for a longer second shot, which
must clear the rough that splits the fairway in two. Your approach to the
green should be with nothing more that a wedge, but this is where the real
challenge lies. The putting surface is very narrow and quite long with a thick
marshy grave to the left and sand to the right. Running from back to front,
the green is also one of the slickest on the course. How I made par here, I'll
The 11th went from a par three that featured several teeing positions, to the
most difficult hole on the back nine, which was previously the 12th. Rock Run
Creek continues to wreck havoc on the course, as it cuts down the left side of
this daunting par four. Just to show you how hard this hole is: During the
1992 PGA Tour year, the 11th (then 12th) ranked as the toughest hole on Tour!
Let's start off with 470 yards in length and a narrow fairway. Then it's a
dogleg left with thick rough on either side of the landing area, not to
mention the creek. The water then runs down the right side of the putting
surface, which is over 35 yards in length and narrow. To make matters worse,
the green features a sloping spine down the center and a deep bunker to the
left. Enough said.
Number 12 is now a wonderful, uphill par three of 168 yards. The putting
surface is hidden behind a deep, fronting bunker, so get your range finder out
for precise yardage. The sloping green falls off sharply in the front, so get
the number right, otherwise you'll be rolling down the hill. Two bunkers deep
and right will keep you honest. It's the shortest par three, but certainly not
From a short par five, the 13th is now a beautiful par four of just 360 yards.
From an elevated tee, the player is rewarded with an enormous fairway in full
view. Avoid the wetlands to the left and the two bunkers right and you're
almost home free. Your approach with a short iron will be uphill to a very
tight and sloping green with plenty of sand dotting the landscape. Word of
caution - do not miss left, as you'll be faced with either an impossible lie
in thick rough well below the green or a very difficult bunker shot. How hard
is this hole? I hit the fairway, just missed the green and made six!
The 14th continues to be a risk-reward, driveable par four. Just 299 yards in
length, the hole features a few more obstacles, mainly in the form of sand.
Rock Run Creek still runs down the entire right side, but now deep fairway
bunkers mark the landscape. An iron off the tee will surely take all of the
trouble out of play, but why would you do that when you can reach the green?
Start your drive at the bunker in the rear of the fairway and cut it back
towards the right and you're home free. C'mon, go for it! Although the
previous hole was fun, the renovation makes the 14th much more appealing.
During the second round of the 2010 Senior Players Championship, the hole
played at 262 yards and yielded three eagles and 30 birdies. Jeff Sluman
eagled the hole during the final round en route to a fourth-place finish.
The final four-hole stretch starts off with a rugged par four of 490 yards,
increased by 23 yards from the previous design. Playing uphill off the tee, a
solid shot is needed to split the tree-lined fairway that funnels most shots
towards the center. Now playing downhill from the fairway, a medium to long
iron now remains to a very difficult, undulating green that slopes in several
directions. Sand protrudes short and right of this slick putting surface with
chipping areas in front and left.
The difficulty on the 16th is accuracy, not length. Your tee ball on the par
four must find the fairway, thus avoiding sand and thick rough that lines the
landing area. A three-metal on the uphill shot from the tee will leave nothing
more than a medium to short iron to a new green complex that's well guarded by
seven deep bunkers. The putting surface is the smallest on the back nine at
just 25 paces and is extremely fast. Miss short and right and your approach
will roll back down the fairway. Land in one of the greenside traps and you'll
be hard-pressed to get up and down.
The green is long and wide, but the par-three 17th is anything but easy. From
an elevated tee, a long iron or fairway metal is now required to clear the
fronting lake. An additional 27 yards have been added to this treacherous, but
beautiful hole. In addition, a rock wall is now in place, separating the green
and the pond. The greenside bunkers have been repositioned in the rear and
left of the green and the putting surface has been tightened. How about a
back-right flag with the wind swirling and the tournament on the line? Wow!
Although he lost in a playoff, Michael Allen birdied this beauty in the final
round in 2010 to tie for the lead. In 2006, this hole was the fourth hardest
and 17 players during round one found the water.
With the tournament on the line, the 18th hole is quite a formable task. Your
tee shot, now 20 yards further back, must favor the right side in order to
open up the green for your approach. Any opening shot missed right of the
target will be gobbled up by deep rough and mounding, while missing left can
result in a sandy grave. The slightly downhill green is situated in a great
amphitheater setting, with five bunkers strategically placed around the
undulating surface. Lengthened a couple of paces, the putting surface features
a chipping area in the left-rear portion. It's a great finishing hole. Just
ask O'Meara, who sank a short putt for par to post his first individual win on
the Champions Tour. His comment following victory said it all - "This is a
great golf course, very tough, demanding."
FINAL WORD: The transformation is complete. From an also-ran golf course to
one of the top-15 tracks in the state. Not bad for a course that was panned by
most of the PGA professionals.
The TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm now has it all. This is an outstanding course,
which features immaculate conditioning. It's a far cry from previous years
when the course was so saturated that the fairways looked more like a cow
pasture than a golf course.
The practice area is now a world-class facility, complete with target and
chipping greens, an expanded short-game area and a 10,000-square foot putting
Even the clubhouse underwent extensive changes, expanding and renovating the
But, it's the golf course that's the main attraction.
Every hole underwent a metamorphosis. From as little as moving tees forward on
the third, to creating beautiful new par-threes at nine and 12, or eliminating
the 10th and 11th holes and making a rugged par five in its place, it's
Each hole and bunker were re-graded and re-positioned. Every tee box was
changed to a square presentation, harking back to the old designs of the past.
The re-shaping of the bunkers, adding a Scottish feel, complete with fescue
grasses, gave the course a look that's wonderfully appealing.
The course has such a natural look and feel to it, thanks to the addition of
12 acres of wetlands and the restoration of the Rock Run Stream Valley.
The work done by Hardy and Wenzloff and the input from Love, Funk, Fazio, Dye
and Gil Hanse was nothing short of brilliant.
What makes the course even more appealing are the five sets of tees that are
now available for all levels of play. It goes from the Ivory buttons at 5,025
yards to the Black tees at 7,139 yards. Not to be overlooked on the scorecard
are the yardages that all courses should have, which they call "Blend." This
set of yardages incorporates four of the tee positions throughout your round,
equaling 6,394 yards. Now that is fun.
I was so looking forward to coming back after playing the course before the
changes, that I can't wait until the next time. Well done!