I walked the course today as the guys were playing their practice rounds and took some notes that anyone with any kind of interest in this tournament will hopefully find helpful or entertaining. Whether it be daily fantasy/betting people or just people going to watch or watching on TV, hopefully there’s some useful information here.
The course itself is amazing, and it’s playing long. They knocked one of the par 5’s down to a 500-yard par 4, and the other three par 5’s are nearly 600 yards long. There’s only one par 4 that plays under 400 yards, and the rest of them average about 450 and will play longer if the rain comes again as expected. Not only are those holes long, but three out of the four par 3’s are over 200 yards too. The holes are long, and it has been raining all week with more rain in the forecast for the weekend, so this course is going to be a beast. It was very noticeable as I watched guys play these longer holes that the guys that can really bomb the ball are going to have a significant advantage. Not only is it going to give them much shorter clubs into these greens (always an advantage), I watched numerous guys that are short hitters miss all three par 5’s short with fairway woods, while guys with power were able to take on the greens in two as long as they found the fairway. On the 12th hole, I watched Chad Campbell kick his ball from the rough into the fairway and tell Troy Merritt it didn’t matter because he couldn’t get to the green in two anyway.
Speaking of the fairways- on the front nine, they are very wide and the landing spots are mostly flat and shouldn’t be hard to hit at all. I followed Wolff, Niemann, and the two Ortiz’s for the first six holes, and I don’t think any of them missed a fairway. On the back nine, you can tell they narrowed the fairways, but they are still pretty large with the exception of holes 10 and 16 which seemed extremely narrow to me. So, what happens if these guys miss fairways? The entire front nine is very open. There are hardly any trees, the rough is not very long (although might be tough to hit out of when it’s wet), and the only hole with water in play is hole 2 (on the right). The back nine is a different story. On the majority of holes, if the ball goes too far right, it’s going to be out of bounds or in a body of water. A miss left is going to be safe, although there are more trees on the course on the back that might be in the way if it leaks TOO far left. I heard multiple caddies talking strategy with their players off the tee about aiming a considerable amount left of center on most of the back nine fairways.
In my opinion, we’re going to see a lot of scoring on the front nine and the difference maker is how these guys navigate the back nine. Water is definitely in play on holes 16-18, and we could see some fireworks or meltdowns on these holes down the stretch on Sunday. Also, look for the use of the grandstands as a backboard on 18. They did a really good job of placing the stands off of where play is on most of the course, but they are just a few yards off the back of the 18th green. The long approach into that green flies over water the entire way (if they choose to go for the green in two), so if you miss short at all, it’s going to splash. If it’s missed long, it will just bounce off the grandstand and they’ll get a free drop for a short chip back onto the green. If I had to pick a specific skill set that I think will do well this weekend, I think it’s going to be a guy that’s long off the tee, hits good long irons, and hits a draw or has a tendency to miss left.
For the non-golf course related stuff, the parking situation is great, although in the general parking area I’m not sure they’re going to have enough room. The lot was half full at noon on a practice round day, I can only imagine what that looks like on Saturday or Sunday. Regardless… you park, go through security right away and then hop on an extremely nice coach bus that brings you right to the front gate. The $10 to park is well worth the comfort you get on that bus. When you get there, directions are pretty easy, but it’s not really easy to skip around holes. With the exception of two or three intersections, you pretty much have to walk through the course in order if you want to keep moving through it. Unless you’re going to park yourself in one spot at one hole, be prepared for a lot of walking. Bathrooms and concessions stands are all over the place, and they sell a Midwest favorite Michelob Golden Light in addition to the Brooks Koepka special Michelob Ultra, so can’t really complain about the concessions when they made the correct decisions with the beer offerings. I saw a freshly squeezed lemonade stand going up too which was pretty cool, hopefully they let kids run that thing and keep the money. Also, if you’re planning to attend a golf event, it appears you have to have the practice swing with no club motion down. Everywhere I looked there were fans practicing their swings with no club. I thought it was weird, but I was one of the only people not doing it.
Some other random things I noticed: There are A LOT of deals that go down in the practice area. Brand reps are everywhere hyping their products up to these guys and in some cases, they just tell them to keep stuff and it goes right in their bags. Also, no surprise, but Minnesotan’s love athletes that have any small connection to Minnesota. Troy Merritt had people following him all day welcoming him home and talking about Minnesota Gophers football. He seemed annoyed by it before he even went to the first tee. Also, for being allowed to wear shorts in practice rounds, I only saw a couple of guys wearing shorts and it was hot and sunny most of the day. Why aren’t these guys taking advantage of that? Finally, the two most bizarre things I saw all day were a life-sized cutout of President Trump hanging in a picture window of one of the houses directly off the fairway of the 6th hole (impossible to miss if you’re walking that hole), and Rory Sabbatini taking a handful of full chip shots on the middle of the green of the 16th hole for no apparent reason.
That’s all I got in me for writing for today, I’ll give some names in the tournament I like taking this stuff into consideration in my normal DFS post on Wednesday. Thanks for reading!