The most important tool for the professional golfer when they are on the course besides their caddie is their yardage book. You know, that little book they pull out of their pocket with all the numbers, formulas, and lines. Tour players study it feverishly prior to each shot and with their caddies base all their on-course decisions from this little book. Ever wonder what’s inside that yardage book and how the Tour Player approaches dissecting the course?
Each week I am going inside the ropes and dissecting the course with the specific focus on breaking down how the Tour Player approaches to each hole and giving you a one of a kind look at the golf course. Specifically, we are going give you elevation changes, wind charts, ideal shot shapes, approach distance by hole for the shorter and longer hitters, what kind of trouble will be specific to each group of players and where on the course they might struggle. All based on real time on course updates from the Pros. We will also give you the on-course notes for all the “Danger Zones” on the key holes and which players they are most likely to affect.
This week on the Yardage Book we get another quirky golf course that will mess with the players and based on how the weather is shaping up, course management is going to be crucial this week. Before we get too far in, TPC San Antonio is a par 72 that plays over 7,400 yards but only has a sub 290 yard average driving distance. Tree lined but usually wind stricken in the flats of South Texas, TPC San Antonio ranks among the toughest on tour.
Speaking of the wind, it is going to be a factor yet again this year. While it doesn’t look to be the precut wave slaughtering windstorm repeat of 2015…this current weather forecast for the weekend is shaping up to be some of the windiest conditions these guys will likely see all year. Maybe more important than the high average mph of these winds is the direction and more specifically when it will be blowing in what direction.
TPC San Antonio is situated to take advantage (not for the players) of the prevailing and persistent Texas winds, in this case predominately North and South. With the normal winds prevailing on Thursday and Friday out of the South. This means that the downhill holes will play into the wind and uphill holes play down wind. *Note: this is how the Yardage Book number are oriented for approach distances.
The course will change dramatically after the cut if the current forecast holds and whatever front is on the way arrives…it is going to be interesting! Saturday and Sunday the course will be a completely different beast that what the players have battled the first two days with all the downhill holes downwind and uphill holes into the wind. The players that can adjust to this drastic shift in how the course plays will find themselves with a shot to win on Sunday. Now that we know what to expect with how the wind will specifically affect this course…how bad is the wind going to be?
Thursday is the best day and will likely be the best opportunities to score on this tough track, with winds steady at 10 with mild gusts to 13. Relatively calm for TPC San Antonio. Friday is the start of a brutal three day stretch, with winds steady from 13 and increasing to 16 in the afternoon. The kicker is gusts are consistently going to be 20 mph Friday.
Saturday and Sunday are truly a roller coaster as the wind shifts out of the North and beats the players from 10am Saturday with steady 18-20 mph winds that gust to 30 mph. Sunday settle down as the steady winds are lessened to 14 mph but expect some residule strong gusts topping 25 mph to affect the early tee times, then settle down to a manageable 13 mph steady and 15 mph gusts as the tournament closes out.
With such a dramatic change in the course and how it will play this week and especially the increasing winds on Friday could easily effect the cut line. There could be some potential for weather split advantages this week as well as we get closer to lock. Note: It is Texas and the weather can change very quickly, pay close attention this week and don’t forget to check Windfind.com for the latest updates.
So with the weather in mind, lets dig into how the pros are going to play this course and what is important to them when they are standing on the Tee box.
Par is in mind for most as they tee off on a tough opening hole that requires a precise tee shot that leaves a difficult approach to fast green. Look for players that even miss by a little to run off this green by Sunday as the course dries out.
The second hole will be reachable for some on the weekend with the wind behind them, very few will make it home Friday with 15 mph winds into them. This will leave them with a difficult wedge shot.
The wind this week will make the 3rd very tough as one of only 2 holes over water, a shallow green. Players under clubbing Friday will get wet and most will have trouble finding the right distance on the week and miss long with strong tailwinds.
From a tour players perspective, the 5th feels like the first hole that you need to score on to keep pace, the short par 4 has most guys taking driver. A small green makes for a difficult wedge shot for players laying back but drives rolling within a chips distance are usually rewarded with a birdie.
The 600+ yard par 5 will play very different this week, downwind guys will have a go at the green Friday. But at 600 yards now and playing into a 15-25+ mph wind on the weekend it quickly becomes a 3 shot hole for even Dustin Johnson! Don’t expect too many eagles in general tis week with 3 of the 4 par 5’s playing into a forecasted brutal wind on the weekend.
The 12th will play a bit different for the bombers this week, they are able to carry the left bunker on an otherwise claustrophobic feeling hole. This advantage is gone on the weekend however.
The 14th is a must birdie hole and that will be even more important this week with weather that appears to be wreaking havoc. Leaving with a par will feel like a double bogey and a bogey feels like triple here at the only truly reachable par 5 that favors a fade off the tee.
The last four holes are going to be dynamic from the player’s perspective this week. 15 is a tricky positional hole that will see some bombers grabbing driver but taking on a lot of risk. Loot for a big hitter a few back on Sunday to make a move here.
The 17th makes for a difficult approach but with the possibility of a forward tee and downwind for the weekend…there could be fireworks here to close out what is shaping up to a be a very difficult and tight golf tournament! Players feel like this is their last real chance for a birdie, the tee is up…expect anyone close to the lead to go for it.
The 18th is not very gettable in two and will force most to lay up and try to make a closing birdie the conventional way. Not ideal for players chasing, but also don’t expect to see many guys reaching for extra here trying to get home in two.
Some closing details about TPC San Antonio about the schedule change from pre-Masters in the Past to Post Masters the past two year, is the lack of over seeded rough. Like significantly less! The on-course report is that the rough is almost nil and will not play nearly as much of a factor this year as it has in the past. Suffice to say that missing the fairway by a few yards here and there this week doesn’t appear to be too penalizing if players leave themselves on the correct side of the hole to attack what are expected be greens that continually firm up and dry out over the course of the weekend as the course speeds up.
In total this appears to be another very weather affected and difficult edition of the Valero Texas Open with typical Texas conditions making an appearance. My final closing note is pay attention to the weather tomorrow and prior to lock, especially if you go heavy on a tee time wave. Texas weather changes a lot and quickly.
Good Luck this week!