The PGA Championship – Quail Hollow Golf Club
The PGA Tour heads to Quail Hollow Golf Club this week for the final major of the season. Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, golfers normally travel here for the Wells Fargo Championship but this year they will tackle the course for the chance to be called the PGA Champion Golfer of the year.
The course features a traditional par 71 layout with four par 3s and four par 5s. The course is longer than the average PGA stop and is best known for a three hole stretch referred to as The Green Mile. This very difficult closing stretches will challenge front-runners to keep their lead on Sunday going into 16, 17, and 18 and offer those looking to close the gap on the leaders, the opportunity to apply some pressure.
The Green Mile first starts with the challenging 16th hole a challenging 508 yard par 4, then the lengthy 17th, a 221 yard par 3, and finally the 18th, a 493 yard par 4. With the weather expected to be very wet this week and all the way into the actual start of play these holes and the entire course will play longer. The length of the course is underscored even more so when we examine the most frequent approach shot yardages below.
Some changes have occurred on the course. First, the greens have been completely redone (again) and are now all new Bermuda grass in a transformation overseen by Tom Fazio. This master plan of Fazio dates back to 1993. Quail Hollow had been a pleasant course but relatively easy, by the tour standards. The original design was done by George Cobb and had hosted events since the 1970s, first with the Kemper Open and again in the 1980s with a Senior Tour event, the World Seniors Invitational. But club president Johnny Harris wanted Fazio to make Quail Hollow great, he wanted it transformed into something worthy of a major. He got it.
The Numbers – Quail Hollow – 7,575 yard par 71 course
Please note the score card below is from 2012 and with the recent renovation, updated holes 1, 3 and 5, the course will play closer to the 7,575 as listed above, but the below image should give you a good idea of specific hole yardages and routing.
- Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G): Much like last week at Firestone when the course is difficult the SGT2G is paramount . At Quail Hollow since the early 2000s 75% of golfers that finished in the Top 3 were the top tier ball strikers on tour coming into the tournament. Also we at Tour Level Fantasy have found that Strokes Gained in general is the best indicator for future success and thus will once again it will be our main focus as we build our content this week.
- BOTH Par 5 Scoring (P5) and Par 4 Scoring (P4):
The par 5s are reachable in two for almost all golfers (Yes, even David Lingmerth) therefore players who want to score and compete must take advantage of the par 5s. Par 5 scoring has one of the highest correlations with Top 5 finish in last 15 years at this tournament, with those players all within a .25 stroke on par 5 scoring.
Now, it is rare to see Par 4 scoring so highly correlated with success on a Par 72 but with shorter Par 5s and a long course, the distance has to be made up somewhere. A lot of this distance can be found on the Par 4s and some (if not many) players struggle with long par 4s. All this means is that successful players this week will be those players who can differentiate themselves from the field by scoring on the Par 4s when other players do not.
- Driving Distance (DD):
If you haven’t gotten the message yet, one last time, this course is LONG. Those with distance off the tee will benefit. One way that it is beneficial is reaching the par 5s in two. But as mentioned above extra distance will be very beneficial for golfers when faced with the par 4s that reach almost 500 yards. For those looking to pick the winner; either outright for punting or those who like to have the winner in their lineups (helps to win a gpp), over 90% of the winners in the last 12 years have been in the top third in driving distance on tour. Also because the trees aren’t thickly placed together and there only few bunkers and no real threat of water off the tee, missing fairways won’t be that penal. However, since the rough can be thick and will be wet, golfers who miss the fairway but long will be aided in hitting a shorter iron to the green out of thick rough vs. a longer iron.
- Scrambling (SCR)
Again very similar to last week at Firestone, because over 50% of tee shots do not hit the fairway, the approach shots from the rough into difficult greens will likely also miss the green. This provides golfers another opportunity to differentiate themselves from the field. If a player can get up and down at a rate much higher than his competitor who is also missing greens, then this could be the singular difference resulting in one player making the cut and the other not. Or maybe more importantly one player competing for a top 20 and another simply going through the motions to cash a pay check on the weekend. We can not put a number to a meta-data concept like this but we have all seen it with our eyes and it is this type of analysis that can often lead to a profitable weekend over breaking even or worse losing a portion of your bankroll.
5. Proximity from 175-200 yards & From 200 yards plus (Prox200) Because of the course length most approach shots will come from these two distances. Historically almost 60% of approach shots have come from 175 yards or more. On these approach shots golfers will be with greens of average in size with tiers and massive undulation, so good proximity stats will be key.
That is what we have for you this week and look for more content tonight and throughout the week as we build to the The Winning Element on Wednesday.