Fuzzy Zoeller came into the clubhouse one year after firing 65 on the Lake Buena Vista course and joked that he just had lost 10 spots.
For the first time in 19 years, the easiest of the three Disney tournament courses is no longer in play at the National Car Rental Golf Classic at Walt Disney World Resort. The format change and abbreviated pro-am now require only the Magnolia (par 72, 7,190 yards) and Palm (par 72, 6,957 yards).
Even so, this is still a good place to chase 60. Only eight of the 44 PGA Tour events produced a lower scoring average than last year's Classic (70.554). The course records at Magnolia and Palm are 61, and none of their holes have ranked among the tour's toughest 50 since 1991.
``For some reason, we just seem to take apart the Disney golf courses,'' said Orlando resident Payne Stewart, who shot 61 at Magnolia in 1990. ``The golf courses really aren't that easy. The scores are so low. I don't know why that is. They're always in great shape, and there are some great holes out there.''
The only cosmetic change is the wider launch pad at Palm No.18, where there is more space to tee off. Otherwise, the two courses look much the same as before, except for some subtle differences that only the pros will notice.
The greens are quicker, rolling at 10.5 on the Stimpmeter instead of 10. The rough is thicker, cut to 21/2 inches instead of 2. And the pros will find fewer divots.
Why? Less traffic and fewer amateurs. The change in title sponsorship means the departure of the Oldsmobile Scramble. It had been Disney golf's busiest time of year, held the week before the Classic.
The abbreviated pro-am, formerly three days for a field of 396 amateurs, is now two days for 144 amateurs. It gives Disney a bit more freedom to put some teeth into the setup. The changes will have a minimal impact on the scores - as long as the pros stay in play.
``In years past, the rough's been at a certain height because we had foursomes with one pro and three amateurs, and we had to get the golf rounds played,'' said Gary Myers, anager of Disney golf courses and maintenance operations.
``This year, by having foursomes of two pros, two amateurs, they're going to play a little quicker. Therefore, we can raise the rough a little bit.''
The switch from three courses to two accommodates television, which never wired the Lake Buena Vista course. It lends a bit more flexibility in case of bad weather, eliminating the possibility of three-course play on Sunday. It also makes things easier for spectators, who have far less ground to cover.
Fans still have to do some walking. These are not TPC Stadium courses with lots of parallel holes and amphitheater-style hills at greenside. But Magnolia and Palm do offer a few hot spots for those who want to stay in one place:
The finishing stretch at Magnolia includes the island green at No. 16 and two of the tournament's five toughest holes, No. 17 and No. 18.
For multiple views, the back of the green at Magnolia No. 12 is a good place to be, offering a good look at No. 11 and the tee balls at Nos. 4 and 13.
Other Magnolia hot spots include the green at No. 14, nestled next to par-3 No. 15, and the tee at No. 6, the Mouse Trap signature hole which also affords a fairway look at No. 5.
The entire back side of the Palm course offers the most freedom of movement for spectators, particularly the stretch between Nos. 13 and 16.
Other Palm hot spots include Nos. 18, 6 and 10, rated the tournament's three toughest holes, respectively. Palm No. 18, playing at an average of .278 over par since 1983, cracked the PGA Tour's toughest 50 list seven times between 1983 and 1991.
If you're looking for birdies, head for the nearest par-5. All of them are reachable in two swings, albeit two of the four at Magnolia are accessible only to the mammoth hitters such as John Daly or Tiger Woods.
For the first time since 1979, pros will play three rounds on the Magnolia and one on the Palm. Joe Lee designed both courses. Palm has more trees and water. Magnolia has more bunkers and length.
``The difference between the two is that Magnolia wears you out a little bit more,'' said Kevin Weichel, club pro at both Disney courses. ``It plays longer than the Palm does. On the Palm, you're thinking more about the water.
``You're thinking mentally a little harder on the Palm, and you're working physically a little harder on the Magnolia.''Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times