Joshua Grenier, jpgrenier on DraftKings and Fanduel, starts the week bringing you Tour Level’s unique perspective, with the “First Cut”. Josh is a top ranked father of twin boys and uses zero of his several degrees in his day job. He loves to chat about golf, DFS and music on Twitter so feel free to hit him @GrantBushman on Twitter.
As with all of our content and tools here at Tour Level, we aim to help you make better decisions in all of your fantasy golf games and for all your golf betting related items. The main purpose of this article is to kick the week off with a base level understanding of the course and some of the related items. The emphasis of the article is to simply familiarize yourself with any unique characteristics of the course and start to get an idea of specific stats that have been both indicators of past and future success at this week’s tournament.
The CJ Cup – The Club at Nine Bridges
The Club at Nine Bridges is located on Jeju Island and is one of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the world. Jeju Island is a volcanic island south of South Korea’s continental landmass sometimes referred to as Korea’s Maui.
The course was designed by the firm Golf Plan whose two principles are Ronald Fream and David Dale. Both designers have college degrees in horticulture and they use that to create a stunning visual presentation. According to the designers, they tried to create a Scottish Highlands course and many think they succeeded. However, I think the notions that you can create a true Highlands course outside of Scotland and especially in Korea are misguided notions at best. That is not to say that this isn’t a superb and special course, because it is. But it is more so, to question those in the golf design profession who over indulge themselves with idea that they can take Scotland out of Scotland. I would much prefer they simply acknowledge the undeniable and longstanding effect and legacy that the original design features of the original and legendary Scottish courses and those who created them. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to claim that you have created a “Scottish Highlands course” in Korea, especially one with island greens.
More so, the course, with the manicuring and the finishing touches that are close to landscape perfection certainly do not exude the Scottish vibe. Honestly, it often times more resembles a lush American championship/resort course with some terrain reminiscent of Scotland. In many ways, I think it looks and feels similar to Eagle Point b/c of their insistence on the very manicured, perfect conditions (as seen below). That is not say that the two are perfectly correlated but I think from their visual similarities, it would be tough to deny some correlation.
Although I must admit that the part of Jeju Island where the course is located does indeed resemble a perfect summer’s day in Perthshire. The course is split into two nines, that stretch over a very generous allocation of land, wandering through pine-clad rolling land with the Mount Halla backdrop, which at 6,000 feet is South Korea’s tallest mountain. On these holes you will notice the similarity to Scotland, as seen below:
Course numbers – 7,196 yards, par 72
The 9 Bridges (9B) course and The CJ Cup is a first time event, at a first time course. The tournament is a NO CUT event and thus the players will have four guaranteed rounds on this hillside course in the highlands tradition. They will have to contend with strategically placed trees, valleys, ponds, creeks and bunkers.
At Par 72 and 7,200 yards he course is not long. The course has a few doglegs, elevation changes and both short and long par threes, fours, and fives. But outside these design elements, the course plays pretty open and should favor longer players off the tee, to the extent they can still put the long ball in the right place to score.
It is important to note that the course actually features only eight bridges and the ninth is “metaphorical as a link from the club to members and guests”. I guess we can classify that as a narrative play, those who can find the spiritual access to the metaphorical ninth bridge will likely have the most success this week on the course. The holes can be seen below in both the entire course layout and also on the breakdown of the two separately names nine hole “courses”.
Nine Bridges has hosted professional golf events before, the LPGA visited four times from 2002 to 2005. Notable because Se Ri Pak captured the first tournament in 2002. So you can build your player profile off that if you can find reliable LPGA data from the early 2000s.
In addition to the LPGA events, the Club also hosts the World Club Championship which was established in 2002 to foster the growth of amateur golf. The tournament features champions from top-level clubs around the world who gather to contest for a global title. The World Club Championship (WCC) is now recognized as the premier amateur club tournament in the world and is sanctioned by the R&A and the USGA. And sanctioned by Se Ri Pak:
The greens generally have reasonable undulations and allow for a smooth and true roll, if not easy putting. The bent grasses are not only used on the greens but also on the fairways, making the course aesthetically pleasing. Players who play better on bent should not be left out of your player pool. Some of the most picturesque views are at the 4th hole’s green, skyline at the 8th hole’s, and the views from the 10th, 13th, and 18th hole of Mt. Halla.
Par 4 – Only 10 Par 4s on this Par 72 track and with no real short Par 3s and all reasonable Par 5s, all the Par 4s should be manageable from a distance perspective, however most of the doglegs are utilized on the Par 4s, so accuracy may come into play for those who look to take advantage of the Par 4s. Also the 6th hole is the one Par 4 that looks to be a beast.
Par 3 – The Par 3s vary in length but 3 of 4 are pretty long and those players who are accurate from 200 yards and greater should have the easiest time scoring on the Par 3s and also may have that yardage as a correlated distance to scoring on the Par 5s below.
Par 5 – Doing some quick conversions* from meters to yards, none of the Par 5s look too long and therefore again we will look to focus on players who can score on 5s and definitely those who have shown the ability to make eagles when presented with the opportunity.
*There are two relevant conversions:
- 1 meter is equal to approximately 1.1 yards and therefore the 550 meter 12th hole actually plays 600 yards.
- The second conversion is for the elevation change. One can calculate the distance gain you will experience (compared to sea level) by multiplying the elevation (in feet) by .00116. For example, if you’re playing in Reno, at 1 mile elevation (5,280 ft.) the increase is about 6% (5,280 x .00116 = 6.1248). If you normally drive the ball 250 yards at sea level, you will likely drive it 265 yards in Reno. Here at the Bridges, we are only 3,500 feet above, so its roughly a 4% increase or about 4 yards per 100 yards. Therefore, if you are targeting a bomber who hits it 320, then he will probably be hitting it closer to 340.
Player Preview and Field Review
5 Players from the KPGA – only players who have a “home game” unless Se Ri Pak gets a last minute sponsor’s exemption. KPGA Players – Jinho Choi, Jung-gon Hwang, Hyungjoon Lee, Junghwan Lee, Seunghyuk Kim
2 Players from the Asian Tour – Gavin Green (DFS darling), Young-han Song
3 Korean players from the OWGR – Byeong Hun An, Jeunghun Wang, K.T. Kim
Sponsors Exemptions of Note – Sangmoon Bae, K.J. Choi, Ernie, and Thomas Pieters
Sponsors Exemptions – Unrestricted – Kyoung-Hoon Lee, Gyu Min Lee, Ryan Ruffels
Notable Top 60 Available on Prior Fedex Cup Points list – Justin Thomas ,Xander Schauffele, Marc Leishman, Paul Casey, Russell Henley, Pat Perez, Daniel Berger, Jason Day, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay
Good Luck everyone. I will update the article as necessary if more information about this first time event becomes available. Make her proud!