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.
After the first and only edition of Eagle Point last week, we move onto Jacksonville and The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. A (in)famous Pete Dye designed layout, built with the spectator in mind that annually provides some of the season’s best golf. Coming in shy of 7,300 yards, TPC Sawgrass is a ball striking, technical golf paradise.
Dye is famous for the visuals he presents from the tee and the routing of holes, designed to keep the players on their toes throughout their rounds here this week. Having so much history at the Players, we are finally back to a course that we have a bank of knowledge and experience to pull from both for the Tee 2 Green: The First Cut and The Yardage Book.
Before we get too far into it, lets take a look at the weather and see what these guys are up against this week besides TPC Sawgrass and each other.
Finally for the first time in weeks, we don’t have a significant weather event to focus intently on and overthink about when it comes to making lineup decisions this week. That said, this is coastal Florida and the weather is often varied and unpredictable but at least it doesn’t look to be the kind of situation we will have to worry about am/pm waves of golfers getting wiped out.
General weather note: It has been very dry in Florida this year and that is definitely reflected in how dry the course is and how the tournament directors are going to handle keeping this golf course from getting away from them in the 90 degree heat we are projected to get in the afternoons this week.
Thursday is going to deliver a great start to the tournament with the early morning guys getting some potential gusts before settling down to a nice 5-8 mph breeze and gentle gusts not projected to be worse than 10 mph throughout the day. Really perfect conditions to get us started here in Jacksonville. Friday will expose the players to a more typical coastal Jacksonville kind of day with winds constant around 10 mph and gusting to 22 mph throughout the day but still a very get-able course.
Saturday is moving day, but if the forecast holds and the greens continue to dry out then the only direction guys will be moving is backwards. Projected winds of 17 mph and gusting north of 25 mph will have these players rethinking a few shots, especially with how much more exposed TPC Sawgrass is now after the removal of some 100 trees as 6-7 pond was added and the clearing out of 12.
Saturday is certainly the worst forecast but even then nothing crazy or out of the ordinary for this tournament and course, just not ideal for scoring. Sunday however, the winds lay back down to 8-12 mph steady and gusting right around 18 mph. Just in time for these guys to go low and chase down the leader on the new back nine Sunday.
Course Condition Report
Sawgrass is one of the most prestigious courses in the country and even they don’t seem to be immune to the dry conditions we have been experiencing all across Florida this year. I have been to the Players several times through the years and never seen the entire course as dry as was today! So dry in fact that the grounds crews have already started watering the back nine fringes and greens mid day and into the afternoon, in an attempt to keep them from getting away
The course is playing firm and balls are running out a good bit in some areas and on some holes, 12 especially. This is probably due to how much new sod and ground restructuring that was done. Much like the new greens the root structures haven’t fully developed and they are holding even less moisture in this dry season. That said, good shots into the greens were reacting well and players could be aggressive on the short approaches and 2nd shots into par 5’s. Based on having new greens, expect the crews to water constantly between now and Thursday am to give the greens the best possible chance of surviving in championship condition throughout the weekend. With winds picking up on Saturday, the greens could get very quick
While that is encouraging, it was a practice round and this is Tuesday. The rough is down, the course is firming up around the greens and areas leading into the hazards are shaved pretty close. Don’t expect to many lucky breaks on poorly struck shots to hold these greens or avoid a less than fortunate demise at the bottom of the some 15 lakes dominating the landscape.
To give you an idea, just look at how closely cut the bank leading to the water is on the driveable 12. Only a tiny little piece of fuzz to stop a speeding ball from a watery grave…I don’t like the ball’s chances of holding up come Saturday.
All that said, with the crew watering as much as we expect, there could be an early Thursday AM tee time advantage brewing. The course will be a soft and scoreable as it is gonna get during those early groupings and that could be enough to justify stacking up those tee times a bit this week where it makes sense.
The bottom line is that expect to see a significantly different course on Sunday than the one we see on Thursday morning. The guys are likely going to be adjusting to a rapidly shifting course each day and likely play very different in the afternoon rounds as it dries out and the crews wont be able to water during the rounds.
Stats From the Pros
- Strokes Gained Approach
- Bogey Avoidance
- Putts inside 10′
Remember, these are not necessarily the stats for scoring Draftkings points but important to playing well at this tournament. Generally, you would want to include birdie or better rank into any stats compositions you put together to capture the points they generate in Draftkings scoring.
Best of Luck this week!