RSM Classic: Hole-By-Hole Breakdown
Sea Island Golf Club – Seaside Course: Par 70, 7005 Yards
Note: This course is played for one of the first two rounds of the tournament, as well as the third and fourth rounds. The Plantation Course is the other course played in one of the first two rounds. Plantation is a newly renovated course that just re-opened in October. This write up is for the Seaside course only.
Hole 1: Par 4, 417 Yards
Off the Tee: This is a narrow tee shot to start the tournament off. Both the bunkers on the right and the trees/trouble on the left are in play for the average-length player hitting driver. If they choose to hit driver and hit the fairway, it’s a nice short wedge into the green. More than likely we will see guys choosing to club down off this tee and lay up short of the bunker that is 255 yards to carry and then play a longer iron into this green. Especially given first-tee nerves, I’d be surprised to see anyone start off with a driver in hand.
Approach: If driver is played, a 115-yard wedge into the green is all that’s needed. If everyone lays back, it’s 170 yards to a 20x30yd green. A large bunker on the left is likely in play for all approach shots, given that they are coming at it from 170+ yards away. Par is a good score to open the round with.
Advantage: GIR, Scrambling
Hole 2: Par 4, 415 Yards
Off the Tee: For an average-length hitter, this hole should be open enough to give driver a go. They should be able to carry the bunker on the left and keep the water on the right out of play. Shorter hitters may be in trouble, the farther back you bring the carry distance the more the bunker and/or water comes into play. The short hitters may need to lay up, considering the bunker is 255 yards to carry.
Approach: An easy 100-yard wedge into an average sized 25x25yd green. The bunker on the right could be in play for those that have to lay back and take longer irons into this green, especially when pins are placed on that side of the green. Those that can take driver off this tee should be able to score on this hole.
Advantage: SG OTT, Ball Striking, SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 3: Par 3, 204 Yards
Approach: A long par 3 that can be made to play just about any distance under 220 yards. The measured distance leaves about 15 yards of tee box behind the tees, and the tee box spans 55 yards, so they can really play around with distances if they wanted to. Playing into a 25x25yd green protected by a bunker in the very front, they will likely just shoot for the middle of this green and be happy with par.
Advantage: GIR, Scrambling
Hole 4: Par 4, 429 Yards
Off the Tee: This is a tee shot that has trouble written all over it for very wayward tee shots, but driver is necessary as it will give these guys at maximum an 8 iron into the green. If they lay back on this hole, they are truly hoping to walk away with par. Long hitters also have a disadvantage here, as the bunker straight down the fairway comes into play and the mess on the left is just as much in play. Leaving something from in front of that bunker off the tee will be key to this hole.
Approach: 140 yards from in front of the bunker to a 30x20yd green. The long bunker covering the left side of the green may be in play with pin locations on the left, otherwise this hole is a scoring hole with wedges/short irons in hand.
Advantage: Driving Accuracy, Ball Striking, SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 5: Par 4, 409 Yards
Off the Tee: Even the most aggressive players won’t take this hole on with driver. A direct shot to the green requires you to be Cam Champ with the accuracy of Jim Furyk, and even the average length player just has too much trouble in play (as shown in the yellow triangle). Length isn’t even needed on this hole, the play off this tee is to lay up to something in front of the fairway bunker, leaving a short iron or even possibly a wedge into the green.
Approach: 150 yards into a 20x30yd green. Power hitters may have a wedge here, the rest will have 9 or 8 iron. It’s an average sized green, but it will only be trouble when the pin is in the front by the bunker. In that situation, they should opt to fly it past the pin and attempt to spin it back, otherwise play for a long putt and likely walk away with par. This should be a scoring hole for the whole field with pins away from the front of the green.
Advantage: SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 6: Par 3, 179 Yards
Approach: An average length par 3 into a wide 35x20yd green, only protected by a front bunker that looks to be a couple yards off the green. Although not a short hole, there’s not much to protect it other than weather, so good iron players should score on this hole.
Advantage: SG: Approach, Par 3 Scoring
Hole 7: Par 5, 582 Yards
Off the Tee: Finally to the first par 5, and it’s a score-able one, although somewhat lengthy. Most of the field shouldn’t have much problem finding the fairway, but there’s room to miss if that happens. A fairway finder will leave a long fairway wood to the green for those that have length, otherwise a layup to a preferred distance is OK too. If they can’t reach the green in two, letting loose on a fairway wood to get as close as possible does mostly no good, as they could potentially bring the fairway bunker on the left or the water on the right into play. We will likely see a lot of layups to very short wedges on this hole.
Approach: 275-yard fairway wood for those with length to get there, otherwise a layup to a short wedge into a nice sized 35x25yd green. There are no bunkers, and the water could only really be in play if longer hitters are trying to throw 3 wood darts at pins on the right side of the green (unlikely). This should be a scoring hole for the field.
Advantage: Ball Striking, SG: Approach, Par 5 Scoring
Hole 8: Par 4, 368 Yards
Off the Tee: A short par 4 that will again likely see mostly layups off the tee, although it can be argued the guys should let driver rip off this tee. Anything left of the couple trees on the right will leave a short pitch into this green and immediately make this hole a scoring hole no matter the pin location. Most will opt to lay back to something in front of the far-left bunker, leaving a full wedge into the green.
Approach: Everyone will have a wedge into this green that measures 15x30yds from the middle. It obviously gets larger in the back, and any pin back there will make this hole a scoring hole no matter where they are hitting approaches from. Pins in the front get a little dicey, given how thin the green is with a large bunker on the right for protection. If they take driver off this tee, front pins will be no problem for scoring, but it gets more questionable coming from farther away. Regardless, good iron players shouldn’t have any problem circling a 3 on this hole.
Advantage: SG: Approach
Hole 9: Par 4, 452 Yards
Off the Tee: Accuracy will be important on this tee shot. A layup leaves too much club into this green, but an inaccurate shot could also bring both the bunker on the left and tree trouble on the right into play. Plus, an approach from the far-right side of this hole forces a carry to the green of almost all water as well as over a set of trees. Not really a mentally pleasing shot from there.
Approach: 155 yards to a 25x30yd green. The bunker on the left is only in play with pins on the left, and as long as there are short irons into this green there should be some scoring. However, scoring is much more difficult on this hole if you aren’t in the fairway.
Advantage: Driving Accuracy, Ball Striking, SG: Approach
Hole 10: Par 4, 418 Yards
Off the Tee: Starting the back 9 is a risk-reward tee shot. They will want to avoid anything into the trees on the left, which brings almost the entire fairway bunker on the right into play with driver. However, a well-placed driver leaves a wedge into the green and a scoring chance, whereas a layup brings a medium-length iron approach over a large greenside bunker. I assume we will see a mix of driver and non-driver off this tee, depending on things like length, accuracy, confidence, and risk appetite, but missing this fairway immediately brings bogey into the conversation.
Approach: 165 yards from a layup, 120 yards from a driver to a 25x25yd green, with the front covered by a large bunker. With a wedge approach, this hole should be scorable with any pin. Par is a good score if they are coming in from 165+ yards away.
Advantage: Driving Accuracy, SG: Approach, Scrambling, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 11: Par 4, 425 Yards
Off the Tee: There is trouble left and right on this hole, and no tee shot other than a driver right down the middle of the fairway is completely safe. As seen in the image, there is a 60-yard window between the tree line and the fairway bunker, which basically forces them to take a target at the random tree sitting in the middle of the hole that I’m sure wouldn’t be fun to hit over. Accuracy is key on this hole.
Approach: 130 yards to a wide open 25x25yd hole. The bunkers look to be far enough off the green where they will not be in play with these guys hitting wedges into the green. This is a scoring hole if they can avoid all the trouble off the tee.
Advantage: Driving Accuracy, SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 12: Par 3, 223 Yards
Approach: The longest of all 4 of the long par 3s, but this one is safer than the others. The tee shot into a 30x30yd green will only bring trouble if the pins is set on the right side of the green, which brings the greenside bunker into play. Long holes like these are not usually scoring holes, so keeping it out of the bunker and walking over to the next hole with par is good enough here.
Advantage: SG: Approach, GIR, Scrambling
Hole 13: Par 4, 408 Yards
Off the Tee: The tee shot here with driver will likely bring too much risk for most of the field. A miss left makes bogey worthy of a celebration and miss right will end up in the fairway bunker. These guys should be able to lay up off the tee with a club that can’t reach furthest bunker on the right and still leave a wedge or 9 iron at most into this green.
Approach: Although unlikely this approach from the tee is taken, a driver will leave 110 yards into a 30x25yd green. Most of the field will be looking at 135 yards after they lay back off the tee, which is still a wedge for everyone in the field. The bunker in the front of the green shouldn’t be in play even with front pin locations, they should be able to take wedges over the pin and spin them back for scoring chances. This is a scoring hole for the field no matter where the pin is.
Advantage: SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 14: Par 4, 442 Yards
Off the Tee: This hole requires an accurate tee shot. If you miss the fairway, you’re in trouble on both sides. It’s a longer hole and even a great drive down the middle won’t give most of these guys wedges, so it’s very possible a lot of guys elect to lay back off the tee to ensure a shot in the fairway.
Approach: 150 Yards after a good drive, but more likely much longer from a layup off the tee into a 20x30yd green. There’s no trouble surrounding the green, but a longer approach into a smaller green makes it that much harder to hit. Given the trouble off the tee and the long approach, par is what you’re looking for on this hole.
Advantage: Driving Accuracy, Scrambling
Hole 15: Par 5, 565 Yards
Off the Tee: The tee shot on the second (and last) par 5 shouldn’t be a hard one. They only need about 250 yards to clear the first bunker and the fairway is open from there. Longer hitters might have issues with the far bunker with driver, but they can also tee off with a 3 wood and still be in perfect position.
Approach: 255 yards to a 20x30yd green. Although this green is probably reachable for most of the field, hitting the green with that approach is another thing. It’s a narrow green that has a bunker protecting the whole left side and another that is on the front right. Because of how narrow the green is, especially at the front, both bunkers will be played out of frequently. A good around-the-green game will be key here. We won’t see a ton of eagle putts, but we will see a lot of tap in birdie putts from those that are good with short chips and playing out of bunkers.
Advantage: SG: Around the Green, Par 5 Scoring
Hole 16: Par 4, 407 Yards
Off the Tee: Driver is safe here for most the field because of the way the fairway angles, and the fairway bunker won’t be in play unless it’s someone with a lot of power or there’s significant rollout. In those cases, a layup off the tee is fine, either way there will be a wedge approach into this green.
Approach: 105 yards to a very wide 40x20yd green. There shouldn’t be any problems scoring on this hole with a very short wedge for the whole field. This hole should play as one of the easiest holes of the tournament.
Advantage: SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 17: Par 3, 192 Yards
Approach: This hole may play as one of the more difficult holes on the course. Another long par 3 approach to a wide but short 35x15yd green. Distance control will be key on this shot, as a miss long or short will land you either off the green or in one of the two large bunkers. If there is any significant wind, it’s possible this hole could even play over par for the weekend. Get to 18 with a par on this hole and you’re in good shape.
Hole 18: Par 4, 470 Yards
Off the Tee: They saved the longest hole for last, but it is one of the easier driving holes of those that will require a driver. Bunkers on both sides should be able to be carried without any negative wind influence, and then the only problem will be if the rough is grown out at all. Length is the key on the closing hole if there’s any realistic chance of scoring, otherwise hitting the fairway and playing for par is the way to go.
Approach: 180 yards to a 20x30yd green. Bunkers on the left and right sides will be in play except for any pins placed in the back right of the green. An approach to the middle of the green and walking out with a two putt will be good enough on this hole (unless that person is chasing 1 shot on Sunday).
Advantage: Driving Distance, Ball Striking, Scrambling
We’re likely to see a lot of tee shots around this course that are with less than driver. Half the par 4’s will be played without a driver in hand, plus there are four par 3’s. Therefore, we can mostly throw any off-the-tee stat out the window. If you really need a stat in your model for off-the-tee, driving accuracy would be the one to use, as it considers tee shots used with ANY club (not just driver).
Since we’re not worried much about tee shots, extra emphasis is going to be on approaches. Shots will come from all kinds of yardage ranges throughout the round due to all the laying up, so focusing on those overall good iron players is key. Shots Gained – Approach and Greens in Regulation will be very important statistics for this event.
Along with the note above on approach, a chunk of approaches will be with longer clubs and the greens are average in size at best, so they will be hard to hit even for the really good iron players. Guys that can scramble around this course will keep themselves in contention.
The four par 3’s are all long and difficult and playing those in even par on the tournament will be plenty good. There are only two par 5’s, both of which are scoreable, but that’s not where the bulk of the scoring will be. Scoring on the par 4’s, especially those with short wedge approaches will be the difference maker on this course.
Images and measurements were done in Google Earth. These satellite images can sometimes be up to 5 or more years old and not show very recent changes to courses if there were any.
Carry distance is used for off-the-tee distances shown in the images. The average carry distance on tour in 2019 was 281 yards, so that was the distance used here.
I used a total dispersion off-the-tee of 60 yards. This comes from an article that Jon Sherman wrote for Practical Golf (@practicalgolf) discussing average dispersion, and I took 5-10 yards off from that number.
I assumed a 10-15 yard roll out from the carry distance to start the measurement to the green. Measurements to the green were rounded to the nearest 5 yards and measured from center of fairway to center of green.
Green measurements were also measured to the nearest 5 yards.
Things like weather, large elevation changes, rough length, etc. are not taken into consideration on the measurements. I can only see and assume so much from satellite images.