Monday, June 8, 2020

What To Look For: 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge

After the delay in the Tour's schedule due to COVID-19, the Tour returns and is playing the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club.

As I announced on Twitter, due to the quarantine I will not be publishing a 2020 Pro Golf Synopsis at the end of the year. Not only has the Tour's schedule been messed up by the quarantine, I have been unable to conduct research for Pro Golf Synopsis due to the quarantine and being currently furloughed has forced me to conserve my expenses. And when I do come back to work, it's likely that I will be putting in extra hours to help get back on track and will not have time to make 2020 Pro Golf Synopsis.

Having said that, I am pleased to announce that when my regular work schedule returns I plan on creating a Web site with some great features for people to use as we head into re-starting 2021 Pro Golf Synopsis. This Web site will include DFS access, a podcast and a YouTube channel for all of your statistical analysis and thoughts on the PGA Tour and the game of golf.


Colonial Country Club was built in 1936 by Marvin Leonard and designed by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell. It's still one of the longest lasting stops on the PGA Tour and is most notably known as 'Hogan's Alley' after Ben Hogan won the tournament five times and was later known a Mr. Hogan's tournament.

One of the main features of the course is the bent grass greens in an area where bent grass is not native to the area. Having grown up on bentgrass greens and then spending the second half of my golfing life on mostly bermuda grasses I find that there's still a lot of fallacies and mistruths with regards to the grasses.

Today there are numerous different strands of bermuda grass greens and some of them roll just as well as bentgrass greens.  The main difference is that the amount of care and resources it takes to maintain bermuda grass at that level is far greater than what it takes for bentgrass greens to grow well.  In the areas of the country where bentgrass is a native grass, you'd be amazed at how fast and smooth the greens can be on rinky dink courses that are severely under-funded.

The Red Stick Golf Club in Vero Beach, Florida was insistent on having bent grass greens in Florida years ago thinking that they could just throw money and resources and have bentgrass greens years ago.  In the end they found that it was an impossible venture when they could simply take less money and resources and get the best bermuda grass surfaces and have incredible greens.

Either way, the make %'s on Colonial's greens are high and the deviation in putting make % tends to be low.  That's due to Colonial's greens being rather flat in order to keep the bentgrass in reasonable enough condition.

Instead, Colonial Country Club is a ballstriker's course.  It's very narrow, but many players get intot he habit of laying up a little too often off the tee.  As Jamie Sadlowski and Jon Rahm have shown in recent years you can hit driver and hit it long off the tee and be very effective off the tee at Colonial.

But Colonial CC is a very heavy long approach shot course.  Particularly since it has smaller greens and with the elevations to some of the greens, a missed green in regulation can present some serious issues at converting the scrambling opportunity.

The big question here is which players are trending up or trending down.  In terms of projecting future performance, recency rules the roost on Tour.  The vast majority of winners on Tour did not miss the cut in the prior week's event and if they did play in the prior week there is a trend that they usually played pretty well (i.e. top-25 finish).  Since we have been off and don't have prior week's play to look at, we don't know who is trending up and who is trending down.


The last critical hole at Colonial CC over the past 5 years has been the par-4 9th hole.  The scorecard says it plays to 407 yards, but to the middle of the green it plays to roughly 398 yards.

The hole is usually the most difficult or second most difficult tee shot on the course as the average tee shot only goes about 260 yards and the field will find the fairway 46% of the time on average.  And about 12-15% of tee shots will find one of the fairway bunker.  This makes it one of the most difficult tee shots on any course on Tour.

Find the fairway is imperative here because the GIR % is usually around 75% on shots from the fairway.  From the left side of the fairway the GIR % is closer to 70% while the right side of the fairway that % jumps to 80%.  From the rough and fairway bunkers the green in regulation percentage drops to 40%.

The 9th is also one of the most difficult holes on the course around the green and with the putter.  About 7-9% of approach shots end up in the water and thus the critical nature of the hole stems from the top performers being able to make par and the rest of the field making bogey or double bogey on the hole.



Jon Rahm +1,200
Justin Thomas +1,600
Bryson DeChambeau +2,200
Xander Schauffele +2,800
Rickie Fowler +2,800
Sung-Jae Im +2,800


Hideki Matsuyama +3,300*
Collin Morikawa +4,000
Marc Leishman +4,000
Joel Dahmen +8,000
Tom Hoge +15,000

*Matsuyama was listed on Bovada sports as starting the event, but was found to not be starting the event and was replaced by Sung-Jae Im.


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