Joshua Grenier, aka @GrantBushman on Twitter and jpgrenier on DraftKings and Fan Duel, starts the week in bringing you the Tour Level’s unique prospective, 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.
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 and golf betting related items. The main purpose of this article is to kick the week off and shake of that case of the Mondays. The emphasis of the article is to simply familiarize yourself with the course and start to get an idea of specific stats that have been both indicators of past and future success at this weeks tournament . For a more in depth analysis on cash games check out @Scottimac11 and then for the inside track on the GPP takedown, be sure to check out top ranked @DFSgolfer23 “Against the Grain” series on Tuesday, and Kelly McCann’s “Chalk…or not” report due out on Wednesday.
THE NORTHERN TRUST – Glen Oaks Club, Par 70 – 7,350 Yards.
The PGA golf season, especially as it relates to the DFS community, reaches its apex this week as we tackle the first “round” of the Fed Ex Cup playoffs. The opening round is held at Glen Oaks Club in Westbury, NY. This is a first time course for the PGA tour and thus the course history angle will be minimal or more so regulated to comparison courses, for what that is worth.
However, regardless of the lack of past course history as a driver of what statistical metrics have driven player success, we can still examine the course on its own merits, to see what are the likely metrics that will equal success this week. This will allow us to still create a player profile to target, to the extent that we use those indicators over recent form and recent strokes gained. Before, we delve into that let’s quickly run down what is the Fed Ex Cup and how this course came to be featured on the PGA tour.
WHAT IS THE FEDEX CUP?
The FedEx Cup Playoffs are a multi-week championship, which features a progressive cut through the first three events to determine the final 30 players who will qualify for the TOUR Championship. This opening week at THE NORTHERN TRUST begins these FedEx Cup Playoffs with a total of 125 players and ties (this is smaller than most weekly PGA fields). In the event that one of those players is unable or chooses not to play, the field is shortened and no alternates are added, therefore please keep an eye on any potential WDs. It is then followed by the Deutsche Bank Championship with 100 players and next the BMW Championship with 70 players. The playoffs concludes with the top 30 players earning points through the BMW Championship earning a spot in the TOUR Championship.
WHERE DID GLEN OAKS CLUB COME FROM?
The Glen Oaks Club was formed in 1924 south of Lake Success on land purchased from the estate of William K. Vanderbilt, and later moved to the current site in Old Westbury. The new course was designed by Joe Finger and opened for play in 1971.
The 27 holes at Glen Oaks were largely unchanged from this original design until 2011, when Joel Weiman and Craig Currier, the superintendent of the club, led a renovation that was completed in 2014. Since that renovation, the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association named Glen Oaks the 2015 Club of the Year.
According to sources it is likely that they will combine holes from all three 9-hole layouts and are using Nos. 1-3 and 6-9 from the White Course, 4-5 from the Red Course, and all nine of the Blue Course, and this PGA Glen Oaks layout will be approximately 7,300 yards.
Many sources are citing a Scott Brown Article released by the PGA, where another guy named Brown, Mark Brown calls the course the “…Augusta of the north”. But if you read further in regards to that course comparison; “I know people say that, but I just don’t like that expression,” said Tim Shifflett, the head professional at Glen Oaks since 2001. “It certainly wasn’t our intent when we renovated.”
Additionally that article states, “Mark Brown understands the pretentiousness to compare any golf course to the home of the Masters, “but, honestly, (Glen Oaks) is that pure, that perfectly conditioned.” It seems clear from that quote that the comparison starts and ends with the meticulous conditions of the grounds.
But we unfortunately don’t get off that easy, because somehow Scott Brown is from Augusta, Georgia and tries to support this assertion stating, “It’s a fabulous golf course, similar (in style) to Augusta National in that you have to play shots to certain quadrants of the greens,” said Scott Brown. “It’s not crazy tight (nor is Augusta National) and it’s fun to play. The greens are firm and you have a lot of options for shots around the greens.”
Again, this doesn’t seem like any actionable evidence that the courses are similar. Most courses where the greens are tiered and/or the pins get “tucked” in difficult locations on the greens will require playing shots to different quadrants of the greens. However, there does seem to be a two nice takeaways here: “Its not crazy tight” and “firm”. It is likely that the firmness could be replicated this week given the below forecast and monthly breakdown, where they have not seen much rain, nor is much forecasted.
As you see the 1.88 inches of rain is much lower than the historical average of 3.72 for the month, especially given the 10 day forecast gives little indication of rain.
The second comparison course being thrown around is Bethpage Black. This is mainly due to the hiring of superintendent Craig Currier and senior designer Joel Weiman to do the Glen Oaks renovation. Both who had done brilliant work at Bethpage Black for both the U.S. Opens (but what’s worse is Currier also worked at Augusta National).
But the comparison to Bethpage is tough, considering that according to Tim Shifflett, the overall goal was for “green grass, white sand and mulch around the trees – three distinct looks.” These images might conjure Augusta, aesthetically but certainly don’t align themselves with the Bethpage aesthetic nor does it provide anything about design as it relates to either course.
What may have helped push some people to think of the Bethpage parkland design were the Hurricanes of 2011 (Irene) and 2012 (Sandy) that cleared several swaths of trees and gave it sweeping vistas. To conclude this history, a final Scott Brown excerpt, who played Glen Oaks last year citing firm and fast conditions over the sprawling piece of property with wide and tightly-mown fairways. The fairways run into sharp-edged bunkers, shaved areas around the greens, and very quick putting surfaces.
- Strokes Gained
- Approach – likely the best indicator week to week
- Off the Tee – I think Total Driving and to some extent Driving Distance could both correlate well this week and we will look to get more information as practices rounds happen and we get player reaction.
- Putting – the most difficult to forecast, based on week to week variance.
- Par 4 Scoring – there are 12 on this Par 70 track
- Average length of 446 yards
- Proximity (150 – 175)
- Assuming an average drive on 290 yards, the majority of approach shots on the 12 par 4s will come from 154 yards and two of the par 3s only reach 185 yards, just outside this range.
- To note, if you remove the short, drivable 11th hole from the calculation, the average more squarely falls into this range at an average of 160 yards.
- Lastly, it may also be beneficial to examine player’s proficiency from Proximity 125-150, since given an average of a 310-yard drive, the average approach distance is only 135 yards and without the 11th hole is just 140 yards. Plus the 3rd hole, the 625 yard Par 5 will likely have some approaches from this distance as well.
- Par 5 Scoring – there are only two and this means those talented at Par 5s will have less chances to distance themselves from the field, but since Eagles are such a valuable scoring opportunity for DFS, it can never hurt to see who can provide your line-up with that scarce commodity. The two holes are examined below:
3rd Hole – 540 yards, Par 5 – For players to reach this par 5 in two, they must first avoid the deep fairway bunker located on the left side. From here, players face an uphill approach to a green protected by a small bunker on the left and a large deep bunker on the right. This hole has potential eagle opportunity.
13th Hole – 625 yards, Par 5 – The first par 5 players face is the longest hole on the golf course. A downhill tee shot must navigate around a large, deep bunker on the left side of the fairway. From here, players must take into account the day’s hole location and decide the best spot to position their ball to attack a severely sloped and heavily bunkered green.
I think it is important to remain focused of the golfers who are in good form and who set up well for a course that is not to tight, firm and fast. Then layer onto that player profile, the guys who can putt well on fast greens and perform under pressure in events with very talented fields. I would not spend too much time on comparison courses unless it is something you enjoy as an academic exercise, especially given the context of the FedEx Cup.
This week, I hope to have an update to this article as we get more concrete intel as the players get on site and we see and hear some reactions. Good luck to all and feel free to send any questions or comments.