The PGA TOUR was originally slated to play the RBC Canadian Open this week, but plans changed when COVID-19 policies lingered and the event was forced to cancel play for the second year in a row.
Fear not. We won't have a bye week on the schedule thanks to Congaree Golf Club who stepped up on a one-year basis to fill the void. Rumor has it they are trying to find a spot as a host course for the Presidents Cup so a successful week would go a long way toward reaching that goal.
When I first looked into the course I thought, "oh great, another private golf course that most viewers will never sniff the chance of playing." Then, I looked into the mission of the club and quickly realized they have something special going on with ambassadors/mentors whose main focus on preparing underprivileged children for the next step in life. One of those ambassadors is even in the field this week. More on that as you flip the page and see the Players to Watch section.
You can go look into the Congaree Foundation if you want to learn more about that but for now, we are going to focus on the golf side of things, so let's dive right in.
Played the week before a major, three time zones away, the full field of 156 golfers is a bit weaker than average, as you might expect. Still, there are a handful of big names looking to tune up their game before the U.S. Open. That includes Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka at the top of the board.
Given the ugly weather forecast, we shouldn't be surprised if there are a few more pre-tournament WDs today or tomorrow. For those that do peg it, the top 65 and ties will advance through the cutline, as usual.
Congaree Golf Club is a Tom Fazio design built fairly recently, in 2017.
The scorecard shows a beefy par 71 that stretches to 7,655 yards but there is more to the story.
Built on what the European Tour members might call "heathland" this linksy layout has firm and fast in its DNA. Hopefully, all of the precipitation in the forecast doesn't ruin that but if it's not playing firm and fast they would need to move up lots of the tee boxes, most likely.
When looking for comp courses, location seems like an easy attribute to use as there are three regular events on the PGA TOUR rota that are within a two-hour drive from Congaree. Kiawah Island also falls in that bubble, recent site of the PGA Championship.
From a hole-by-hole view there are two par 4s that play just 360 yards but also four par 4s that play over 490 yards. All three of the par 5s play over 580 yards including the par-5 fourth which stretches out to 645 yards.
We talked about how the course is designed to play firm and fast but even still, you need to be keeping it on the fairways if you want to navigate all that length.
When you're not finding fairways, you are likely going to find some waste areas which are littered all over the property this week.
When a new course joins the PGA TOUR rotation, they generally proceed with caution when setting up the course. In that regard, we should expect to see some low scores this week, even on such a brawny layout that stretches out to nearly 7,700 yards.
Looking at the turf, golfers will see TifGrand bermuda fairways and Champion bermuda greens. The speeds of the greens can run 12+ feet on the stimp, even for week-to-week play, but it's uncertain what their target will be this week.
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Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week:
Harbour Town Golf Links
Augusta National Golf Club
Sea Island Golf Resort
Kiawah Island's Ocean Course
Quail Hollow Club
Corales Golf Club
The theme this week is looking for courses in the area (Harbour Town, Augusta National, Sea Island, and Kiawah Island are all reached by car in under two hours). The other angle is to look at courses that Tom Fazio has his hand on and Quail Hollow and Corales stuck out for me in that regard since they also have a lot of yardage on the scorecard.
Thursday: Strong chance of showers and/or thunderstorms, particularly in the afternoon, with a high of 90 degrees. Calm winds.
Friday: Sunny with a high of 92 degrees. Slight chance of showers. Winds at 6 to 10 MPH.
The weather forecast is pretty ugly this week with a strong change of precipitation basically every day. Combine that with a major championship being played next week and it wouldn't shock me if we saw even more