Written by KendoVT
After one of the most exciting Masters tournaments in recent memory, the PGA Tour shifts a few hundred miles northeast as golfers head to Harbour Town Golf Links for the RBC Heritage from Hilton Head, South Carolina. This tournament and course is definitely a complete 180 from what we saw last week. This Pete Dye designed track has more of a classic, old school feel as strategy and placement are much more important than power and length. One similar aspect of this tournament to the Masters is that course history seems to get a bump up in importance. You continually see the same names on the leaderboard year in and year out and the reason for that is because these golfers know the ins and outs of this tricky, target golf layout. You don’t see too many courses like this anymore on Tour so it would make sense that finding the correct strategy here would take some time to figure out. I’m not saying first timers can’t win, as the skill level of a lot of these first timers are quite high, especially the Euros, but odds are definitely against them. If you’re looking at the Pete Dye correlation this week the other Dye courses that are played every year on Tour are TPC Sawgrass (Players Championship), TPC River Highlands (The Travelers), TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic), PGA West Stadium Course (CareerBuilder), and Austin Country Club (WGC Match Play).
I wouldn’t worry too much about a Masters hangover as only six winners here since 1983 did not play the Masters the week before. I also wouldn’t worry if golfers you’re looking at performed poorly last week as three of the last four winners here didn’t even make the cut at the Masters prior to their win. Good form excluding the Masters and a propensity for high finishes has become a common thread for winners of the RBC Heritage. Since 2009 every winner at Harbour Town except for Jim Furyk in 2015 had at least one Top 5 during the season prior to their victory and Furyk just barely missed out in 2015 as he had a 7th place finish a few weeks before. Five of the last eight winners actually had TWO Top 5s leading up to their victory here. Weather and wind play an important part at this seaside course but as of now the forecast looks bright and sunny with calm conditions. With wind and bad weather this course is usually in the Top 10 most difficult courses on Tour but without the wind and weather, this course plays MUCH easier. As with any week, check the forecast closer to lock to make sure you know what the latest weather conditions are.
Harbour Town is a 7,100 yard par 71 with four par 3s and three par 5s, two of which are reachable by most pros. Off the tee golfers will have to deal with tight, tree lined fairways with thick woods, bunkers, and water being a problem for golfers who miss wildly off the tee. This course is the definition of target golf. If golfers hit it on the wrong side of the fairway, they might have a blocked second shot because of all the overhanging trees that surround the fairway. On the other hand if they miss the fairway but hit it on the correct side and not in the woods, they will have easier approach shots than golfers who hit it on the fairway but on the wrong side. The fairways are tight but over 66% of fairways are hit during the tournament’s past (which is above average) meaning most golfers will be hitting less than driver to place their balls in the right location. A lot of the fairways get extremely narrow around the 300 yard range thus preventing golfers from breaking out the big stick. Because of this the average driving distance here is the shortest on Tour at 265 yards. The rough is not too thick but it will make approach shots much tougher to the small greens. On approach shots golfers will see some of the smallest greens on Tour with only slight undulation. We won’t see too many 12 foot breaking putts like we saw last week. They will be playing slow with a stimpmeter rating of around 11 and the grass on the greens is TifEagle Bermuda. Golfers will need to be accurate with their approaches not only because of the small size of the greens but also because of the obstacles around the green. There are bunkers around almost every hole and water will be a factor around a few greens as well. Another bit of trouble the golfers will face around the greens are over hanging trees. A couple of holes actually have trees right in front of the green on both sides, making it look almost like a field goal post. So on these holes, if a golfers misses a little left or right, the trees will knock the ball down and leave tough chip shots onto the small greens. Only 57% of greens are hit at Harbour Town and even with light winds, these greens will still be missed.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P) and Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G), which are key stats every week.
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG:A):
If you’ve been reading my material for a while now, you know I always think SG:A is one of the most important stats to look at at a less than driver course. 26/33 golfers that finished Top 3 here the last ten years were inside the Top 80 in SG:A for that specific year. This tournament will be won on second and third shots and I think golfers with the best iron play will have a leg up this week.
That’s it for this week. For more PGA DFS knowledge check out my Podcast. It’s called Fantasy Golf Degenerates and you can find it on iTunes. Make sure you check out the other golf DFS tools on ProjectRoto including Jaebberwock’s weekly cheat sheet and the Moosenomics spreadsheet, as it is the best in the business. Also follow me on Twitter @KendoVT for more fantasy golf info! Good luck to everyone this week and hopefully you win big.