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 is going to be a real test both for the Yardage Book and for the golfers. With a brand new course and no history or experience for guys to draw upon (sans Webb & Carl P) the yardage book will be even more important for the players as well as for us fantasy players. Eagle Point is being used in the place of Quail Hollow (PGA Championship prep) a lengthy 7,400 yard par 72. In Tee 2 Green: The First Cut we addressed some early key stats and course overview but today we are really going to dig into the course and go through the on course conditions, how it played today, and what the pros think it will take to hoist a trophy this week.
Before we get to far, the weather is going to be a major factor yet again! It seems like a weekly event to have severe weather and this week it comes in the form of a projected deluge on Friday accompanied by serious wind all 4 days. The constantly changing weather picture this week is starting to come into focus, so let’s dig into the likely conditions and the have a look at am/pm wave strategy. (Note: The coastal nature of this Augusta clone has me looking at the windy 2016 Masters for some player correlation ideas.)
The first 3-7 tee times on Thursday morning will experience a brief period of relative calm (12/17 mph) prior to the weather moving in between 8-9 am with consistent winds of 18 and gusts averaging 23 mph out of the East and shifting from the South in the afternoon on a deceptively exposed golf course right on the coast. There is also a chance for the afternoon groups to get the front edge of light rain that precedes the monsoon behind. Overnight and Friday until 11-12 pm are forecast to bring over 1.75 inches of rain in just a matter of hours. Depending on the speed and when the front comes in Friday will likely see a half day of golf at best. During the storm expect 40+ mph winds to roll through and litter the course with debris as well. This will likely push play back and cause the cut to made Saturday and some guys will be in for marathon golf as well. Friday afternoon golfers that do get to tee it up will be greeted by likely mud balls and and shifting winds coming out of the South and West at 20 mph and gusting up to 30 mph.
With round 3 likely starting mid day Saturday the course should still be soft enough to attack on the “Official” moving day round but the holes played into the wind are going to be a bit longer. Constant winds of 20 mph from the West and gusting around 25 mph will cause the course to play different than it did the previous two days. This will keep players guessing as the traverse the course. Sunday the players finally get some respite from the wind in the early morning hours with less than 15 mph winds that quickly pick back up to 18 around 1-2 pm and gusts of 20+ mph.
The front moving through will create some opportunity to stack different tee time waves and hope that one gets a big advantage with a soft course. At this point it is looking like the Thursday early tee times have and advantage in better starting conditions and less likely to play their rounds in a light rain. Then they would likely get their 2nd round postponed until Saturday morning with the weather likely shutting down play for most of Friday. If you are going to try and exploit a draw bias this week…Be Watchful! I have been watching the weather closely (2x a day for 4 days) and it has changed nearly every time I have checked. The other thing that has changed almost every time I have looked is the wind direction on a given day, I am hoping that the directions remain steady enough to get a better idea of how each hole will play. That is why you will notice a lack of wind direction by hole this week, players will likely experience several wind directions day to day. If you want to stack a wave be sure to check the weather right up until lock on Thursday morning, and be sure to check the Wednesday periscope from an on site weather update.
Course Condition Report
Before we get into The Book, let’s cover some course conditions (today/projected) and some inside the ropes observations of what we can expect from a stats angle this week.
First of all, off the tee players are getting very little roll in practice rounds. Largely due to how the fairways are mowed (back towards the player), which do not promote any roll. The incoming weather will only exacerbate this and the only places to achieve extra roll are reachable only by bombers, even then it is no more than a down hill kick and bounce.
Translation…This is a bombers track through and through! I’m sure you have heard the Augusta comparison enough this week but quite literally the players feel like they are playing Augusta in so many aspects. Length is going to divide this course and field into two distinct groups this week in how (if) they can attack it as we will see in The Book.
The bunkers are deep, much deeper than they look and in many cases very difficult to save par from. In fact almost all the bail out areas around the greens are treacherous due to the severe slope and undulation of the green working against the most popular bail out areas.
The course sets up really well for a solid draw off the tee, especially for the bombers this week. If a guy can carry 295 with a draw he will have a big advantage this week with position and scoring irons in his hands.
Based on the projected pin placement, there will be very few short putts that aren’t double breakers. The severe undulation in the green complexes as a whole, translates to extensive subtle breaks throughout and lots of putts that move 2-3 times in a very short distance.
Stats From the Pros
Here are a few stats that from the pros perspective will be most beneficial in finishing well at Eagle Point. Important to remember that these stats are not designed to find good fantasy scorers but instead what a pro thinks will be most important to execute on this week to find a top 25 finish.
3 Putt Avoidance
Putts Inside 10′
I tried to include as much concise and relevant detail in the notes section this week in an attempt to keep the article a bit less wordy. I would love your feedback on this change. Long form written hole detail (previous edition) vs concise note (current edition) in the book? Moving on to my interpretation of some trends in The Book itself.
I want to draw your attention to the red cells in the elevation change column. You might notice that as a general trend the par 4’s have a slightly raised green from the fairway. This is not so much because it is uphill but because the greens are slightly raised and situated like upside down bowl to really encourage run off into the collection areas. All designed to make it harder to hold these greens and further increasing the importance for approach shots and course management, Players that took the time to really study the green complexes and use the contours will have more chances around Eagle Point this week as they will use the severe contours as back stops and funnels to work a difficult shot closer to the hole…turning a would be a 2 putt par into a decent look for birdie.
The other dominant trend you might have noticed is the difference in irons for the bombers and non bombers with their projected approach distances. With a full club or better into the greens the bombers will be taking aim at birdie on 4-6 holes more often (1/3 of the course) than players that average less than 295 off the tee. Driving distance will certainly play a factor this week, especially after the rain on Friday.
From a scoring standpoint, I expect all the par 3’s to play over par…easily! With the shaved run off areas around the water on 2 to the brutal length of 15, none of them have a bail out area worth considering, the greens are heavily sloped away from them and depending on pin placement virtually impossible. The par 3’s are the bogey equalizer to the par 5 birdie equalizer this week, all requiring a great shot each day to have a chance at par. Nobody will be stepping onto a par 3 tee box this week with birdie on their mind!
On to the par 5’s, which will be the scoring barometer for the field since none of them provide a ton of reward or incentive in trying to get them in 2. The 3 shot nature of these par 5’s will help neutralize the bombers a bit since most of the field can compete well on these holes this week and further emphasize great wedge play this week. Specifically look at bombers who have a tight wedge game….Dustin Johnson kinds fits that mold lately. As you noticed in the Book above, I made note several times where the bombers will have a significant advantage…are you getting the idea yet? It’s a bombers paradise with a wet, no roll 7,400 yard course where the scoring differences will occur on the short and medium length par 4’s this week, instead of the par 5’s like a normal par 72. That is where the tournament will be won and lost this week, on the par 4’s.
All in all Eagle Point looks to be as close to an Augusta clone as one can get! It is immaculately maintained and will be a great venue this week to test the players right before the Players. This place really does play like Augusta and in many respects the very same type of game that is successful there should have a great opportunity to find success here. Suddenly, Phil Mickelson comes to mind with his Augusta track record…anyway Eagle Point is a challenging course that will give players everything they can handle this week!
Best of Luck this week!