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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.

The tour moves back to Texas for a couple of weeks in the wind, starting with The AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Four Seasons in Irving, TX. A Moorish designed par 70 that layouts out to only 7,166 yards, featuring elevation change throughout the course that challenges the distance control aspect of the players game into the Bentgrass greens that usually run on the slower side as far as tour standards go.  Playing as one of the shorter courses on tour, TPC Four Seasons makes up for its length with difficult to hit greens and plenty of water on what is normally a firm and fast golf course that can see some really low scores as well as some very big ones based on course set up and weather.  This week the initial reports are that the greens are in really good shape and rolling as true as they ever have, but likely change once we get some rain.

With a short course that tends to cater a bit to the bombers based on the stats we took a look at in The First Cut as well as accurate long iron players that are field average in distance but slightly more accurate than the field.  Both short and long irons will come into play this week as players look to hold the elevated greens with mown run off areas.  The green side bunkers are deeper than they look and will be popular spots for a poorly struck ball this week as well as a bail out area on the longer holes.   So sand saves should come into play this week for the tournament winner.

 

This year you can expect to see plenty of balls in the bunkers as the word on the course is that the fairways are running a bit and the rough is patchy, those held up by the rough can expect some flier lies and will make spin control difficult this week.  The lies in the rough should be good for the most part this week and guys will be able to do what they need out of the rough but they will be plagued by the occasional flier with the Bermuda rough.

That said the greens are as receptive as ever and rolling very pure…for now.  Expect some putts to be made early on this week.  Normally, the greens at TPC Four Season and Bentgrass in general tend to be a bit soft on the surface and hold spike marks easily.  Expect those conditions to prevail the more water the course gets this week.

That’s right…more weather this week and with that, let’s dive right into the…

Weather Update

Well like I said, it looks like we are going to have to deal with another front coming through this week.  I have been monitoring the weather since Monday and because this is Texas, the forecast has changed a good bit over the last 36 hours.  Namely due to a front of weather that is projected to come through anytime between Mid-late after noon Friday and Late Saturday, it will likely hang around for a 12 hour window as it moves through.  Most of the uncertainty this week hinges on the time of this weather system and if it continues to move up each time I check we could be looking at this system making its way through and having an impact on the Friday afternoon guys trying to get finished.

 

Pre-Cut:

Expect Thursday to be a pretty typical Texas day with steady winds of 13-17 mph and gusts reaching up into the low-mid 20’s.  Nothing to crazy and basically what you would expect from central Texas.  There is a decent chance for some overnight rain on Thrusday that could serve to soften the course for the Friday morning wave.  We will keep an eye on this and see if any significant advantage develops but currently we are giving the slight nod to the Thursday PM/Friday AM wave for this reason.  Also because the rain threatens to potentially move in just in time to hamper the close of Friday’s round should the front move in a bit earlier than expected.

Friday will see similar winds to Thursday and typical for Texas but there is a chance some lingering thunderstorms to stick around into the morning and for the impending front to move through sooner than expected and impact the cut line.  If the front comes through early there is a chance that the cut won’t happen until Saturday or in an extreme case…Sunday.

 

Post-Cut:

Saturday is currently looking like a potential washout and at the very least should have the golfers dealing with some rain throughout the day with potential for a start and stop kind of day depending on the front.  Saturday will be a wait and see type of game but one thing is certain, if this course gets the kind of rain that is currently forecast then we likely see Lift, Clean and Place in effect.  The course does not drain very well with a clay base and as we have seen in years past, this can turn into a very gettable course under LCP conditions.  The greens will likely hold plenty of moisture and be very receptive once they get rain and those playing the weekend should find a favorable course to attack once the rain lets up.

Another weather note about TPC Four Season, the greens are currently running great but with rain in the forecast…that will change.  The Bentgrass greens here tend to stay pretty soft and with the rain, they will get real soft and abosrbe plenty of spike marks.  This will make for less than ideal putting conditions, slower and bumpy around the hole takes some of the advantage away for great putters and helps negate the disadvantage for bad putters.  This could be one of the reasons that Keegan has putted so well out here.

The guys will probably come out putting aggressively on the pure greens Thursday but look for that to change as the course get some rain and the greens get a bit sloppy.

 

Stats From the Pros

  1. SG BS
  2. Scrambling
  3. Putts per round
  4. Bounce back

Based on what we are seeing and how the course is expected to play these are the four most important stats from the Tour Pro perspective necessary to finding success here.  Remember these do not necessarily mean scoring DK points but finishing high on a leader board.  Obviously for DK, we want to factor in some BOB% and capture those point scorers but in terms of being on the course and what the pros will focus on this week to find a spot on a Sunday leaderboard will be what is listed above.

Strokes gained Ball Striking because it captures guys that play well off the tee and that also know how to find the green on approach.  Excelling in those two areas are more important this week than anything else.  Followed closely by scrambling, with the greens being slightly elevated and having runoffs all around with plenty of deep bunkers that will be used frequently, missing the green here is a given…finding a way to make a par isn’t.  Guys will need to scramble and do it well if they hope to hang around the leaderboard.

The bounce back stat is not a highly used one but it speaks to the kind of week guys will be having out here.  Bogeys will be made and guys that can shake it off quickly and attack a mid length par 4 (most common hole type following a likely bogey hole) aggressively and snag a birdie will be the ones capable of grinding out a great finish this week.

 

The Book

 

As you can see most of the detail is embedded in the Card itself but just a couple of quick notes from The First Cut.

Make sure to cross check your player pool against their performance on holes like 7/10/11/16.  Guys will need to get to 8 under or so on the par 5’s this week to have a chance at contending unless they blister the par 4’s.  Missing birdies on the par 5’s is not an option this week with only two of them, so make sure you pick guys that know how to score on a par 5 and preferably ones that will have a shot at making an eagle on number 7.

Conversely, don’t forget about making sure your player pool has enough guys in it that can handle 2 500+ yard par 4’s this week as well as the ability to get up and down.  The tough holes, 3/14/15/18 all require the ability to scramble and saving a stroke on these hole is almost as good as making a birdie on the field.

As always, Good Luck this week!