A mere 18 days after the last putt dropped in the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake, a new season is already upon us.
This week, the Frys.com Open at breathtaking CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif., takes center stage as the PGA Tour's inaugural wraparound schedule kicks off. The Frys.com Open is the first of six official events for the new season that take place before January 1, 2014, but count -- FedExCup-point and Masters invitation-wise (for winners) -- toward 2014.
Before players got their respective fresh starts under way on Thursday morning, we took some time to chat with CordeValle PGA Director of Golf Nick Bailey.
Bailey told us a little about the course, the new schedule, the short, but fun, par-4 17th hole and more.
PGA.com: We were at CordeValle for the PGA Cup in 2011. We saw firsthand how breathtaking a place it is. Can you describe it to our readers?
Bailey: CordeValle is like no place else. From the minute you drive in the front gate you are greeted with a smile, a serene environment and a staff that recognizes and anticipates your every wish. This Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed golf course is a magnificent test of golf as has proved to test all ability levels with the PGA Cup, Frys.com Open, CordeValle Collegiate, and the 2013 USGA Senior Women's Amateur. The golf course is fantastic while the rooms and food and beverage experience are over the top.
PGA.com: What's it like to be hosting the 2013-2014 season opener?
Bailey: The CordeValle members, staff and owners couldn't be more pleased to be hosting the opening event for the 2014 PGA Tour season. The event features some of the greatest players of all time, some up and comers recently graduated from the Web.com Tour, and some excellent collegiate golfers as well. All of our past Champions are returning, and with the winner receiving an entry in the Masters tournament as well as a two-year PGA Tour exemption, we're expecting quite a great finish on Sunday.
PGA.com: What stretch of holes are the most crucial for players to get their scoring done at CordeValle?
Bailey: No. 14 is a tough hole that players are happy with a par, but 15-18 are all great birdie holes. On 15 and 17, in particular, both can see eagles through the week. No. 15 is a short par 5 at only 540 yards while 17 becomes a drivable par 4 on the weekend rounds, adding tons of excitement and I wouldn't be surprised to see a hole-in-one on a par 4 this year.
PGA.com: Let’s talk a little more about that 17th hole, a short par 4, which is one of the great risk-reward holes on the Tour schedule. Can you describe the hole?
Bailey: Hole No. 17 plays as a 295-yard par 4 during the weekend and last year ranked as the No. 2 drivable par 4s on the PGA Tour schedule. The green slope has a brilliant back stop that allows driver or 3-wood shots to land on the front of the green and still hold the green to give the players an excellent shot at making eagle.
However, hit a shot astray and the green is surrounded by water, deep bunkering, heavy rough and even out of bounds. Shots must be precise, but the reward is so great that almost all of the long hitters go for it.
Editor's note: In 2010, Frys.com Open champion Rocco Mediate holed out four times during tournament week. His last came on No. 17 in the final round. You can see that shot, as well as three other great ones on No. 17 from that year in the video below:
PGA.com: What do you enjoy most about hosting a PGA Tour event?
Bailey: It's a great experience to be able to be so close to the action through the week and be able to walk around and watch golf without having to avoid major crowds or detours that you experience at a normal PGA Tour venue. On top of that, the most enjoyable part I believe for our members as well as our staff is to see the golf course on TV and see how the pros play it throughout the week. The course shows wonderfully on TV and it's great to see them make lots of birdies and equally enjoyable to watch them misread putts and make some of the same mistakes that we make during our normal play.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.