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TPC Louisiana player consultant Kelly Gibson, Fore! Kids Foundation CEO Steve Worthy and Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District Chairman Kyle France (from left to right) hit ceremonial tee shots on TPC Louisiana's first hole Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 at the course's grand reopening.

A gloomy and rain-splashed afternoon did little to take the emerald green shine off the new putting surfaces at TPC Louisiana in Avondale.

The host course of the PGA Tour’s annual Zurich Classic of New Orleans had a grand reopening Wednesday, just over six months after it closed for nearly $2 million worth of renovations.

Fore! Kids Foundation CEO Steve Worthy, whose non-profit organization runs the Zurich Classic, said it is the culmination of the most extensive renovation of the facility since it opened in 2004.

“Being a TPC property there are always tweaks being made,” Worthy said. “But nothing of this magnitude.”

Zurich Classic Golf (copy)

TPC Louisiana is home to the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, which will be held April 2020 on the renovated course. 

Work crews replaced the old Mini Verde Bermuda grass greens with new TifEagle Bermuda surfaces. The TifSport Bermuda fairways had their top three inches scraped off and replaced by 1½ inches of new turf crowned by Celebration Bermuda. The bunkers were renovated as well.

According to TPC Louisiana General Manager Luke Farabaugh, the old fairway turf was used to create several spectator mounds across the course and improve drainage in certain areas. The new spectator mounds are adjacent to the No. 1 tee, behind No. 11 green, near the Nos. 7 and 13 fairways, behind No. 14 tee and near the Nos. 15 and 17 tees.

“There’s an area between 14 green, 15 tee and 17 tee which is a very popular area for concessions and spectators,” Farabaugh said. “We basically elevated those areas 7-8 feet.”

Worthy predicted the spectator mounds on the 215-yard Par-3 17th, the course’s signature hole, would be a fan favorite.

“I think that will be a very popular area,” he said.

Worthy said a number of PGA touring pros have been in touch with him to get updates on the course renovations, which began just after this year’s tournament in late April.

“It’s very exciting,” Worthy said. “It’s one more thing you can sell the players. They want to know the course is in good condition. They want to know if they miss a putt it’s their fault, not that it went offline because of the green.”

Farabaugh said the course renovations were the last of $5 million worth of state-funded improvements to the TPC Louisiana property in recent years. The previous funds were used to renovate and expand tournament support area near the 16th and 18th holes, improve tournament operations areas for PGA Tour officials and volunteers and widened cart paths to help facilitate the construction and tear down of tournament structures.

Other than the wrought iron archways near the 9th and 18th greens that bear the words “PGA Tour,” there was little indication Wednesday that the course is home to a PGA Tour event. But the pros will be back in just under six months for the 2020 Zurich Classic, April 23-26.

The tournament will again occupy its traditional spot on the PGA Tour schedule, two weeks after the Masters Tournament. The Zurich also now sits three weeks ahead of the PGA Championship, which this year moved from August to May while The Players Championship moved from May to March.

“It took (the players) a year to figure out how they wanted to schedule with the changes,” Worthy said. “We added a couple of guys we didn’t have before and we missed a couple we had several years in a row. I think this year it’ll settle in and we’ll see if there will be an impact.”

Email Scott Rabalais at srabalais@theadvocate.com