Recently the OG Design Series Society played back-to-back rounds at TPC Sawgrass. One round took place at the HB Studios-designed TPC Sawgrass, and one at user friendbomber’s RCR creation, TPC at Sawgrass. This is how they stack up, in my opinion.
I was doubtful that custom plantings would make much of a difference, but Sawgrass does have a pretty unique selection of trees and plants that aren’t available in the game. Friendbomber’s attempt was admirable given the resources, but doesn’t measure up.
This should be taken with a grain of salt, as I am not a retaining wall expert when it comes to technical details. I give HB credit for pulling off the retaining wall of differing heights at the 4th hole. It looks good. It makes the effort at 17 and 18 all the more puzzling, where the work is borderline embarrassing. They should have improved their land sculpting tools to use with retaining walls, or consult the community on the best ways to get around their flawed tools. Overall, friendbomber made the needed adjustments for a smoother looking 17th and 18th, and gets the nod here.
Sculpting and bunkers
HB’s bunkers are shallow without much definition, and the waste bunkers particularly standout for their poor sculpting. Friendbomber did a much better job, with nice looking bunkers and smoother sculpting throughout. The mounding around the greens, in particular, was nicely done.
Another area where HB doesn’t quite understand how to best use their tools. The fairway to green transitions are pretty brutal. Yet again, when comparing friendbomber’s effort, it’s clear that HB should have consulted the community.
I’m slotting both courses in the Solid 4 category, and I honestly wouldn’t think twice about living with friendbomber’s version had HB never made theirs. For a course like Sawgrass, though, the custom trees do make enough of a difference to give the slight nod to HB. The other details are constant painful reminders, however, that HB dropped the ball by not tapping their best resources in the community of designers.