Course Preview for the 2017 Masters
By: KENNY KIM (@KendoVT)
The first Major of the year is finally upon us as the top golfers in the world, a few amateurs, and a whole bunch of old, former winners who have an unlimited pass to this course ascend to Augusta National Golf Club to play…The Masters (I know you’re hearing the piano intro in your head right now).
Jim Nantz is our friend, azaleas are in full bloom, and the members of Augusta think it’s a good idea to have limited TV coverage. You all know the deal. It’s awesome, other than that lack of TV coverage part. Many memorable moments have happened here over the years from Jack Nicklaus’ last Major win, Greg Norman choking away a few victories, Freddy Couples keeping his ball dry on 12 (HOW?!!!), Tiger’s miraculous chip in on 16, Jordan Spieth’s first Major win, and his subsequent collapse the year after.
There will be plenty of excitement for both golf fans and DFS players. Speaking of DFS, DraftKings will be crowning their first PGA DFS millionaire of the year, so this is a huge friggin’ week. It’s also a big week because I will be on the grounds at Augusta National for a practice round on Tuesday. I will be eating $2 pimento cheese sandwiches and drinking $4 beers while writing down everything I see on a small notepad because AGNC doesn’t allow any phones on the premises. Be on the lookout on both my Twitter feed and the Projectroto members Slack channel (which is available for all season long subscribers) for juicy bits of information late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
Now onto the good stuff…
Augusta National Golf Club is a 7,435 yard par 72 with four par 3s and four par 5s. The par 5s are where the majority of the scoring comes from as they are the four easiest holes on the course and the six par 4s over 450 yards are where golfers will need to hold on and just try and make par.
Off the tee golfers will see tree lined fairways with above average width, bunkers in landing areas, and light rough. The fairways are heavily undulated and usually lush so even though they’ll have some roll, it won’t be like at a US Open event where dry conditions can make the ball run out 50 yards or more. Also with rain in the forecast the fairways could play softer which will lengthen the course. If golfers miss the fairway and hit it into the trees, they will have to deal with approach shots from the soft pine straw, which is always tricky. Water will also be in play on a few holes on the back nine. On approach shots golfers will see greens that are average in size but that is misleading. First off most of the greens slope heavily from back to front which makes hitting approaches under the hole important. There are also so many slopes and contours on the greens that they will be playing much smaller. Golfers will have small aiming points on approach shots to actually get the ball close. Also because of how firm the greens usually are, it makes the correct landing spot that much smaller. Most greens are elevated and are shaped like an upside down bowl along the edges and have little to no rough surrounding them so many balls will be left in collection areas around the greens which are always tough to get it up and down from because of the firmness and quickness of the greens. Unless the course gets hit by a deluge of rain, they should remain fast and firm even with wet conditions. Augusta National has some of the best sub air drying machinery under the greens and it looks like they will be put to heavy use next week. The greens use bent grass and will be fast with a stimpmeter rating of 13.5 or greater. Bunkers and collection areas surround almost every green with water surrounding a few holes.
Looking at the course description above and trends for the course the last few years, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats, current form, and A LOT of course history to select golfers for my DraftKings and FanDuel lineups this week.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P) which is a key stat every week. Since I am writing this on Sunday the stats I’m using do not take into account the Shell Houston Open.
Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G):
SG:T2G is an important stat every week but based on trends it seems even more important at The Masters. In the last 13 years at Augusta National, 37/43 golfers with recordable stats that finished inside the Top 3 have finished inside the Top 65 in SG:T2G for the specific year they finished Top 3. 31/43 of these same golfers finished inside the Top 50 in SG:T2G for the specific year they were in the Top 3. This correlates with the fact that the higher priced golfers usually perform well here because the best golfers in the world usually have very strong tee to green games.