TPC River Highlands has evolved considerably over the years, almost entirely for the better. After playing the course for the first time since its 2016 renovations - particularly to look, number and arrangement of the bunkers - I'm left to wonder if the course has taken a small step backwards.
River Highlands continues to be one of the shortest PGA Tour courses (6,841 yards, par 70), but it's still not a pushover...usually. The renovation in 2016 was meant to "modernize" a course by turning the bunkers from scooped-out affairs with sloping sand faces to Golden Age-style ones with steep grass faces and flat sandy surfaces below. Unfortunately, several of these new hazards look overly abrupt and forced onto a land plan that has more gliding shaping. Furthermore, the contemporaneous resurfacing of the greens - and softening of the contours - makes putting less challenging than it used to be, although faster green speeds can now be pursued. It is no wonder that Jim Furyk shot a mind-blowing 58 in the Travelers Championship right after the course reopened. In soft conditions, the course is now more defenseless than it was.
Luckily, TPC River Highland's bones make it one of the strongest Tour courses, thanks to brilliant holes like the short par-4 second, the long par-3 5th, the par-5 13th and the world-class drivable par-4 15th. It's just that the recent cosmetic updates have left a bit to be desired. Don't let these mild criticisms deter you, though - it is well worth playing if you score an invite.