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 and their strategy each week. 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 we are Dublin, Ohio for The Memorial Tournament (presented by Nationwide) played at Jack’s Place (Muirfield Village). Muirfield is located just outside of Columbus, Ohio…home to the greatest pizza ever created. Yes, this article is about golf, but bear with me on a short rant about pizza, specifically Massey’s pizza
If you are one of the fortunate souls who has already experienced Massey’s, congratulations. Your life is complete…for the rest of you…pay attention. A piping hot large, thin crust well done accompanied by a light corn meal dusting on the bottom is not the only thing that makes this pizza unique…it might also be the 155+ pepperonis that adorn each large, baked right on the hearth. Yes, 155! This place is legit as they come and they are only located in Columbus (Sans St Simon Island, Ga. The only franchise outside of Ohio), started by a guy named Guido Casa who eventually became known as “The Godfather of Pizza” in Columbus. I mean, come on, how cool is that …Guido the Godfather of Pizza. I can only hope to have a title half as cool as that someday. Some people I know have claimed that another local chain (Rubino’s) is just as good. I consider these people close friends and some even family….but they are dead wrong! Rubino’s is OK but can’t hold a candle to Massey’s. To be honest, their pizza is so good, that every year I have 4 Massey’s Lg Pepperoni pizzas freeze dried and shipped to my house in Florida! No joke, it’s that good!!! If you are ever in Columbus or within an hours drive, do yourself a favor a find a Massey’s Pizza, you won’t regret it. In case you can’t tell I am passionate about my Massey’s pizza and probably need to place an order soon since I am clearly missing it. If there are any readers in Columbus, do me a solid and ship one down here would ya? And if any of you PGA Tour players or caddies are reading this (HAHAHA) you should definitely have one delivered this week while you are there.
To give you an idea of what these beauties look like…and what you are missing out on!!!
I don’t care who you are that is a thing of beauty…MMMMMMM!!!! OK, now I’m done…back to golf.
Where was I? Oh ya I barely got started before I got distracted by hot pizza takes. So Muirfield Village is on the slate this week for the pros and annually this is one of the premiere tournaments on the schedule each year and unfortunately seems to be plagued annually by the weather as well. Such is the case during the spring months in Ohio. We will get to how the weather may impact the tournament this year in a bit but first let’s quickly go over some key aspects of the course in general before we dig into The Card.
Hopefully, you already read Tee 2 Green: The First Cut this week where I dig into the stats that have been most relevant in the past and give a profile for the most important stats for seeking out Draftkings points. Muirfield Village is very much a 2nd shot golf course, with tree lined but generous fairways. Off the tee the players will have options as to how they want to play but the overriding theme to guide decision making this week should be finding the fairway. While easy enough to hit, missing them means immediately bringing bogey into play. The rough around Muirfield is thick and shots missing the fairway are often compounded by trees impeding line of sight and shot options.
The greens are small, very undulating and generally very fast here. The greens and pin placements are what make missing the fairway so devastating here. The rough makes stopping balls on these greens pretty tough, and forget about stopping them in the correct place below the hole. Positioning your ball correctly in relation to the pin each day is crucial to success here with the pitch and speed of the greens. Several putts are virtually impossible to make/stop if you are above the hole, like the ones at 11 and 13 for example. The greens is so heavily pitched in one direction that being on the wrong side of the hole is almost a sure 3 putt. Players will be hyper aware of the pin placement and where they need to land their approach shots this week to have a chance at scoring. This is only a second shot course though for those finding the fairway, miss the fairway and start thinking about how to salvage par, and hope you aren’t blocked by the trees.
Course Condition Report
To sum it up, there is no real advantage to being crazy long or crazy accurate off the tee here but whatever you do…hit the fairway! If your players can manage that then they should stand a decent chance of showing up on the leaderboard and sticking around for the weekend. This course is difficult to putt on for sure but more importantly than good putting is good placement in the greens. I can’t stress this enough, it is the same thing that makes Augusta so brutal. Players must put the ball in the right spot on the green if they want to contend, missing their spots even by a little can turn a promising drive into a potential bogey look.
Rain, Rain go away come again another day…a likely statement from tournament organizers this week as the forecast looks foreboding once again this week. We can expect some great golf but we can also expect some sloppy conditions potentially as the week wears on. It seems that Muirfield has struggled with weather the past several years and especially in 2013 during the President’s Cup. A deluge swept through and drenched the course. Let’s hope we aren’t in for that kind weather this week but to answer the question about how the course is going to play this week from my Tee 2 Green: First Cut article. It seems safe to say that the course will play soft for the weekend but should be very competitive and lush for the first two days.
I have been following the weather closely again this week and in the interest of being as thorough as possible going forward, I am now using 3 different sites for reference and consistency. Last week there was a bit of diversion between the 3 on how windy it was going to be and when, we know how that turned out. This week however, all three sites line up almost exactly for their forecasts. That should mean that we can be more confident in our predictions but with the weather, make sure to do some double checking the closer to lock we get.
Thursday will unquestionably be the best day of golf all week. Cool temps for the morning guys with a high only reaching 70 degrees. Gusts never exceed 10 mph at any point during the day and gentle breezes of 3-7 mph throughout the day. Basically ideal golfing conditions, guys will need to make the most of these pristine conditions for the lone day they will have them.
Friday starts ok very similar to Thursday with very calm winds and cool temps. The winds gradually increase from 0-3 mph and 5-9 mph gusts on up to 13 mph steady winds and gusts up to 18 mph for the afternoon group. The winds pick up just in time for a front to start creeping through and dropping some rain in the late afternoon Friday. These are thunder storms and with lightning there is always a chance that play is called for that reason. Keep an eye on this front and if it looks to be moving through soon in the afternoon on Friday it mean a bit of an advantage for the Thursday PM wave. All in there is about a 60% chance of rain Friday afternoon.
That front that arrived on Friday looks to stick around for a while and bring some decent rain and potential thunder storms again on Saturday. At this point Saturday is going to be a crap shoot with how much (if any) golf is played. Basically from 9 am on there is a constant 60% or better chance of rain/thunderstorms for the remainder of the day. We are just going to have to wait and see how this plays out but what we do know is that the course should soften up for weekend play. It is possible there will be a lot of start and stop type play if lightning is present in these passing thunderstorms. On the bright side, there shouldn’t be too much wind along with this rain. Gusts of only 13-15 mph are projected throughout the day with steady winds of 8 mph.
Let’s cross our fingers that the forecast is worse than the actual weather Saturday and these guys can play golf because Sunday (while it appears better) is not exactly a perfect golfing day either. Sunday brings a 60% chance of showers early then subsiding to 40% for the remainder of the day. Once again we will just have to wait and see how fast/slow this front moves and if it will impact play on Sunday as well. Currently the rain forecast for Sunday does not include thunderstorms, it is possible the guys just play through it with no lightning. Sunday will bring some higher winds than Saturday with gusts up to 20 mph and steady winds of 9-10, surging to 15 mph in the afternoon.
With the weekend conditions being suspect, there is potential for this tournament to get pushed into a Monday finish. For the time being we will just have to wait and see if this front changes at all tomorrow, but right now I am not leaning to heavily either side of a weather draw. Let’s just hope that we don’t see a repeat of the 2013 President’s Cup deluge (pictured below).
Stats from the Pro
As we do each week, we will take a look at what kind of stats the pros think are going to be important to succeeding around Muirfield Village this week. Remember that birdies or better % is not always factored here but should definitely be factored into your models each week. These are the stats that the pros will focus on this week in order to get to and stay at the top of the leaderboard, not necessarily for scoring DK points.
- Good Drive %
- Green in Regulation + Fringe
- Total Putting
As we saw in the stats breakdown, Jack has built this place to favor no one particular type of game but instead demand a total performance through 4 rounds in order to succeed. As players work their way around Muirfiled, they quickly learn that the next shot is even more so dependent on the previous that at other courses. Being out of position at Muirfield will result in a bogey quickly. The rough is so thick and brutal around the greens that missing them will frequently mean a bogey this week. It is simply impossible in some spots to get up and down, those that pull it off when it counts most are likely to find themselves in contention this week.
Here we go, The Memorial Yardage Book above should give you a pretty good idea of what happens to guys that miss greens around here…they make bogeys. Oddly enough, the same thing happens to guys that miss fairways here too. Coincidence? I think not, your next shot is hyper dependent upon the previous shot and your mistakes are compounded in that way at Memorial. If you miss the fairway, you will be looking at bogey. If you hit the fairway but miss the green, you are likely looking at bogey. Even if you hit the green but miss your spot, you could be looking at bogey. Basically, you have to play all around great golf on each and every shot. This much was evident in The First Cut yesterday with a lack of specific stats that jumped out to us, instead SG T2G was crazy important. This indicates that it takes an all around game and not just a game strong in one aspect to have an inkling of success at Muirfield. Jack makes sure to rewards good shots and duly punish poor ones at his place.
The other thing Jack did really well at Muirfield (surely due to his time w Pete Dye) is create brilliant amphitheater like environments around each green. Every green it seems is surrounded by a raised grouping of hills for the spectators. While this makes for incredible golf watching, it really makes playing actual golf incredibly difficult. This is why missing a green at Muirfield can be so costly. Damn near every chip is an akward lie, frequently downhill, to a green that is 2-4 yards below you and often running away…oh ya and you are in 5 inch deep rough.
We are going to see plenty of guys fluffing shots and sliding under chips with this rough this week. Imagine trying to hit a soft flop shot that travels only 2-3 feet forward out of 5 in deep rough and then releases only 3-4 feet on greens with severe undulation and running at a 13 on the stimp. Ya I don’t want to think about it either, so its a good thing I’m not playing…but these guys will be thinking about it plenty this week. The rough is much thinker and lusher than years past, it is also quite a bit taller. Last year the rough was listed at 3 inches…its 2 inches taller this year. Regardless we should be in for some great golf with a stacked field this week
Be on the lookout for out podcast dropping tomorrow as well as the periscope on tonight with Scottimac, one tomorrow with Jason and the premiere periscope tomorrow at 9pm.
Best of luck this week everyone!