Please enjoy this RotoBaller PGA Premium article free for a limited time.
Welcome to the third edition of the PGA DFS Hole-By-Hole Breakdown, where Josh Bennett (@JishSwish) breaks down the course the PGA Tour is playing each week. We think this course breakdown is an important slice of the "PGA DFS pie" and will help change the way you do your research for every tournament. A good understanding of the course that's being played is extremely important before diving into individual players. Each week, this article will give you everything you need to know about the course, strategies players could take, and statistics that fit the specifics of the layout.
This week's Breakdown features Torrey Pines (South) Golf Course for the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour. All players in the field will play one round each on both the South and North courses. A 36-hole cut will then determine what players in the field will play the weekend, with all golfers that make the cut playing their final two rounds on Torrey South. Due to that fact, this piece focuses on the South course, but some notes about the North course are also included at the end of this week's article. Be sure to also read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS and betting articles to help you win big!Editor's Note: Golf is back! Come join the fun and win big with RotoBaller. Get our full-season PGA and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off! Our exclusive DFS Lineup Optimizer, Research Station, DFS Projections and weekly DFS/betting articles! Sign Up Now!
Torrey Pines (South) Golf Course: Par 72, 7698 Yards
Hole 1: Par 4, 450 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.06
Difficulty: Course - 8th, 2019 PGA Events - 309th
Off the Tee: As we will see often throughout Torrey Pines, bunkers are strategically placed along narrow fairways so they are in the way for the average-length player, and that trend starts with the tee shot on hole one. The bunkers on both sides of the fairway are in play, the right one is in play on the carry and the left one is in play with just a tiny bit of roll-out. However, the long hitters will be able to carry the bunker on the right, meaning as long as they error on that side they will have a nice short wedge into the green. Average-length and shorter hitters will be flirting with those bunkers for all three rounds.
Approach: A medium-length approach to a 20x30yd green, although longer hitters likely have wedges in their hands. Large bunkers are on either side of the green, and it wouldn't be surprising to see a handful of players play from both the fairway bunker and a green-side bunker to start their day because of how narrow the green is, especially towards the front. Miss all the bunkers and they'll have a good chance to birdie the opening hole. Find one of them and then they play for par.
Advantage: Driving Distance, Ball-Striking, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 2: Par 4, 389 Yards
Scoring Avg: 3.90
Difficulty: Course – 13th, 2019 PGA Events – 582nd
Off the Tee: Club choice off the tee on par 4's and 5's won't come into play much on this course because of the length, but this tee shot will be one of those where they'll have to decide if they want to risk a bunker or trees to get a really close shot, or just lay back and take a little longer wedge in. Laying up to the start of the bunkers still leaves less than 120 yards into the green, so no matter what they choose to do, wedges will be the next club after the tee shot. If they choose to go with driver, the bunker on the right can be carried by most of the field, so taking an angle to the right side will be how to attack the hole to make sure nothing floats left into the bunker on that side.
Approach: A very short approach to a green shaped differently than the last, but measures about the same at about 20x30yds. Bunkers protect both sides towards the front here too, but they shouldn't be much in play on this hole with wedges in hand. As long as the tee shots stay out of the bunker, this should be a scoring hole for the entire field.
Advantage: SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 3: Par 3, 142/200 Yards
Scoring Avg: 2.95
Difficulty: Course – 11th, 2019 PGA Events – 502nd
Approach: The first of the many long par 3's they'll face throughout the event (The north course doesn't even have a par 3 under 200 yards). However, something unique to this tournament that we will see again on the back nine is that the scorecard lists two distances and the tournament notes that they'll use them both (they did last year). The green is 30x20yds and has a wide bunker at the very front. At the longer tee box, this hole is obviously more difficult and keeping it out of the bunker is the priority. Par is a good score from that tee box. When they move it to the shorter tee box it becomes a scoring hole since 142 yards likely isn't anything more than a pitching wedge for the whole field.
Advantage: GIR, Par 3 Scoring
Hole 4: Par 4, 488 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.15
Difficulty: Course – 4th, 2019 PGA Events – 146th
Off the Tee: This tee shot demands a lot from these guys to be able to have any success. Step one is keeping it from going into the ocean on the left, step two is keeping it out of the bunkers on the right, and final step is to hit it as far as possible because this is a long par 4. Not only is doing all of that difficult on its own, but the hole also sits right on the ocean and undoubtedly will have winds coming off the ocean messing with the ball while it's in the air. There will be a lot of tee shots that end up in the bunkers on the right and any score that doesn't have a box around it on the scorecard is a really good score on this hole.
Approach: This is a long approach near 200 yards to another 20x30yd green. A bunker protects the front left side of the green, but should only be in play when pins are tucked on that side. Given that most guys will error on the right side of this hole off the tee, a left bunker shouldn't be a lot of trouble on approach if the pin isn't over there.
Advantage: Ball-Striking, Driving Accuracy, Scrambling
Hole 5: Par 4, 454 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.01
Difficulty: Course – 9th, 2019 PGA Events – 406th
Off the Tee: Another great example of bunkers placed in problem areas. Without the bunkers where they are on this hole, this hole is really easy because there's no trees or anything else in the way. The bunkers force a straight tee shot down a narrow fairway, and anything offline will be played out of one of the bunkers, unless it's REALLY offline. Find the fairway, though, and it's fairly simple after that.
Approach: A medium-length approach to a narrow 15x30yd green. The whole right side is protected by a long bunker, and there's another bunker short and left. On front pins, they're both going to be in play because of the approach distance, but the left bunker will be out of play if they move any pins to the back. Scoring is possible from those playing out of the fairway, otherwise, they'll have to take their medicine from the bunkers and hope for par before moving onto a real scoring hole.
Advantage: Ball-Striking, Driving Accuracy, GIR
Hole 6: Par 5, 560 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.65
Difficulty: Course – 17th, 2019 PGA Events – 738th
Off the Tee: This tee shot will be sent over at least part of a canyon in order to cut off as much of this dogleg as possible. Since there's not a ton of scoring on this course, getting in position off the tee on the par 5's (this one in particular) is important. Obviously, keep it out of the canyon, but as long as the ball is not in one of the bunkers down the left side of the fairway birdie is in play.
Approach: Long hitters should be able to get to the green in two if they wanted, possibly with an iron depending on how much of the hole is cut off from the tee shot. The front of the green is open and could see some fairway woods rolled up on the front of the green from a little farther away as well. Those that can't get to the green will just hit something easy up to a short wedge distance and set up the scoring chance from there. The green is 20x35yds and has bunkers on both sides, but they will only be a problem for those that go for the green in two, and even then, having a good game from the bunker will still give birdie chances. There's nothing else really in the way on this hole so as long as the tee shot doesn't find the canyon, this is a birdie hole for the field.
Advantage: Driving Distance, SG: Approach, SG: Around the Green, Par 5 Scoring
Hole 7: Par 4, 462 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.14
Difficulty: Course – 5th, 2019 PGA Events – 162nd
Off the Tee: The canyon that was in play on a right miss last hole is again in play on a right miss on this hole. This hole is very similar to the last one, it's just shorter and is a par 4. They have to avoid the canyon again, which again brings the bunker on the left side of the fairway into play. The longest hitters may be able to avoid that bunker and will also be able to set up a much shorter approach to a green that will be difficult to hit from longer distances.
Approach: Another medium-length approach to a green that will look very narrow from where they play from. It measures about 15x35yds and has a large bunker lining the entire right side of the green. The further the approach comes from, the more dangerous that bunker becomes because of dispersion. Long hitters will get much shorter clubs into this green and will become a scoring hole.
Advantage: Driving Distance, Ball-Striking
Hole 8: Par 3, 176 Yards
Scoring Avg: 2.90
Difficulty: Course – 14th, 2019 PGA Events – 583rd
Approach: This is the only par 3 they will play the entire weekend that plays under 200 yards every day. It's pretty straightforward, and distance control will be the important factor. The green is 30x15yds, so depending on pin placement there will only be a few yards in front or behind the hole to miss. Bunkers also protect the front and back instead of the left and right sides like we typically see, so something landing between the two bunkers should be good enough for a scoring chance.
Advantage: SG: Approach, Par 3 Scoring
Hole 9: Par 5, 614 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.57
Difficulty: Course – 18th, 2019 PGA Events – 770th
Off the Tee: The first of the two extremely long par 5's completes the front nine. It's the easiest course on the hole and plays almost a half a stroke under par. The reason for that is pretty obvious, unlike most of the other holes, there are no bunkers to worry about off the tee and trees are only in the way if you are very off line. All they have to do is get something out there that's safe and the majority of the field will just be laying up to a short wedge in for a scoring chance. Long hitters may have a chance to get there, but even then it is a good idea to lay up because of the bunkers that will catch a lot of shots that are short of the green.
Approach: This is a pick-your-distance approach, likely from somewhere around 100 yards to a 20x30yd green. Two large bunkers are on the left side and another one on the right, but they shouldn't be in play with wedges in hand, they should only be in the way for those that attempt to get to this green in two. It's a pretty simple approach to this hole for most though, just spin a wedge in close, get a birdie and move on to the back nine.
Advantage: Driving Distance, SG: Approach, Par 5 Scoring
Hole 10: Par 4, 416 Yards
Scoring Avg: 3.90
Difficulty: Course – 12th, 2019 PGA Events – 581st
Off the Tee: Decision time again off the tee to start the back nine. Bunkers are in play with any kind of roll-out on either side, but this hole is short enough that they can leave the driver in the bag if they aren't confident with it and hit something just short of where the bunkers are. This is one of not many par 4's that is score-able, so it's important to stay out of those bunkers to get a wedge approach into the green.
Approach: No matter the choice off the tee, the field should all have a wedge of some sort in their hands for this approach to a 20x30yd green. Bunkers guard the front-left and front-right part of the green, but like other holes with short approaches, they shouldn't be much of an issue because they're using wedges on the approach. Stay out of the bunkers off the tee and get a good chance at birdie with a wedge on this hole.
Advantage: SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 11: Par 3, 221 Yards
Scoring Avg: 3.16
Difficulty: Course – 3rd, 2019 PGA Events – 132nd
Approach: The longest of all the long par 3's to a 15x30yd green, but the green gets a little wider towards the back. There won't be much pin hunting on this hole, just hit it to the middle of the green and take what's left from there. Bunkers on both sides will be in play, we may even see some error long on this hole as there's typically a set of stands behind the green that will stop the ball from going too far. Par is important here to carry into the next hole.
Advantage: GIR, Scrambling
Hole 12: Par 4, 504 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.39
Difficulty: Course – 1st, 2019 PGA Events – 1st
Off the Tee: When I think to myself about what the hardest hole on the PGA Tour would look like, I'd imagine some multiple combinations of small fairway, water, out of bounds, trees, bunkers, etc. This hole, based on score relative to par, played as the hardest hole last season, but it really doesn't look that hard from the images. What makes it difficult is the length. The fairway is one of the more wide fairways on the course, and only the bunkers on the right are really in play for a lot of the field. Length is the key for this tee shot, they're going to need to be as close as possible to this green to get it on the green in two and at least a good chance for a par. Some of the field may not even be able to reach in two if they don't hit a long tee shot or their tee shot finds one of the bunkers.
Approach: Almost all of the field will have an approach well over 200 yards to a 20x30yd green. As is the case for most of the other greens we've seen so far, bunkers protect the whole right side and almost the whole left side. Much like the par 3 right before this hole, just aiming for the center of the green and taking what's left from there is good enough on this hole. Take a par if you can get it and move onto a hole where you can make a stroke up if you need to.
Advantage: Driving Distance, Scrambling
Hole 13: Par 5, 540/614 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.84
Difficulty: Course – 15th, 2019 PGA Events – 645th
Off the Tee: As promised, another hole with multiple distances on the scorecard (this isn't the last one, either). Last year, the third round was the only round played from the "forward" tees here, so they did play both of them but the back tees were the preferred ones and where they played the final round from. The longer tee shot is actually the easier one, assuming they can clear the 240-yard canyon. Once it's over the canyon it's mostly fairway. From the closer tees, all of the bunkers on the right side are in play and the fairway is much more narrow in the landing area. Either way, this hole is still very long and will likely be a three-shot hole for the field.
Approach: This should be another pick-your-distance approach to the green since most of the field will likely lay up short of all of the bunkers. Going after this green in two, especially from the back tees, is just too risky with all of the bunkers ready to grab any ball that doesn't fly to the green. The green is 35x25yds and one of the largest they'll see all weekend. Other than all the bunkers in the front, there's also a smaller one in the very back of the green. Assuming everyone is hitting wedges into the green for their third shot, none of the bunkers should be in play from there and there should be a bunch of scoring. This is a good hole to make up for any mistakes that might have been made on the previous two holes and/or gain some ground on the field.
Advantage: SG: Approach, Par 5 Scoring
Hole 14: Par 4, 437 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.10
Difficulty: Course – 6th, 2019 PGA Events – 232nd
Off the Tee: The canyon trouble is back, and this time is on the left side. They'll absolutely error right on this hole since the only "problem" over there is the cart path, and then they're away from the canyon and the fairway bunkers. Straight and long on this hole is a significant advantage, long hitters can have wedges into this green whereas others will have 8 and 9 irons.
Approach: A short iron or potentially a wedge into a 35x15yd green. Bunkers protect the front left and right parts of the green again, but what the bunkers don't protect, the canyon does. Any error in club selection or a bad strike can lead to bogey or worse since the hazard surrounding the green is so close and the green is short. Obviously, a good approach, especially with a wedge, can lead to a great look at birdie.
Advantage: Ball-Striking, SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 15: Par 4, 478 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.27
Difficulty: Course – 2nd, 2019 PGA Events – 31st
Off the Tee: Another one of the hardest holes on tour, and not a whole lot different from the last hole. The tee shot this time actually requires accuracy, however, because this hole has trees as it's defense instead of bunkers. If they get stuck behind the trees on either side, it will be a very difficult time getting par. In addition to the trees, length is the other piece that makes this hole difficult. Even if the ball is in the fairway, it's still a long way into the green. Similar to the last hole, long AND straight will be important on this hole.
Approach: A long approach close to 200 yards to a smaller 20x25yd green. Green-side bunkers will grab misses that are short-right or long-left, and assuming pins are placed near them they'll definitely be in play each day. As is the case with many other long approaches, just finding the middle of the green and taking what's left from there will be good enough.
Advantage: Ball-Striking, Scrambling
Hole 16: Par 3, 193/223 Yards
Scoring Avg: 3.09
Difficulty: Course – 7th, 2019 PGA Events – 251st
Approach: The last of the three holes that have multiple distances on the scorecard, but it doesn't matter as much to this hole as it did the other two. It's a long approach either way to a 20x30yd green. Bunkers that protect the left and right will be in play no matter where the tee box is because of the length and there isn't a safe spot to miss. Once again, target somewhere near the center of the green, get a par and move on.
Advantage: GIR, Scrambling
Hole 17: Par 4, 442 Yards
Scoring Avg: 3.97
Difficulty: Course – 10th, 2019 PGA Events – 493rd
Off the Tee: Back to the norm for the course, fairway bunker right in the landing area and canyon trouble to the left. As long as this tee shot goes straight, the hole turns into a scoring hole since it's not very long. Long hitters may even get to pull out wedges for the approach.
Approach: A relatively short approach to a 30x25yd green. Bunkers protect the front of the green and shouldn't be a problem, especially with clubs that can get enough spin on them to go over front pins and spin back to them. If they move pins away from the bunkers there will be even more scoring on this hole.
Advantage: Ball-Striking, SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring
Hole 18: Par 5, 570 Yards
Scoring Avg: 4.69
Difficulty: Course – 16th, 2019 PGA Events – 721st
Off the Tee: Straightforward tee shot to end the round, bunkers won't get in the way except for the bombers, so just send it as straight as possible and get ready for the second shot.
Approach: If this hole was located somewhere in the middle of the course, we probably wouldn't see anyone attempt the green in two, just like we probably won't see many attempting that on the other par 5's on the course. However, especially in the final round, we will likely see some of the longer hitters and guys that are chasing the leader take out fairway woods or long irons and try to fly it on the green to get a chance at eagle to close out the round. The green is 30x25yds, has "Devlin's Billabong" pond in front and bunkers covering most of the rest of the green so it's not safe anywhere. The ideal play is similar to the other par 5's by laying up short of the pond and have a short wedge to the green, but they'll need to take a risk to try to win coming down the stretch which will make this a very exciting finishing hole on Sunday.
Advantage: Driving Distance, SG: Approach, Par 5 Scoring
North Course Notes (Par 72, 7258 Yards)
The South course has the hardest hole on tour from 2019, and carries the higher overall difficulty between the two, but the North course has it's own troubles as well. Seven holes play over par, including three that were in the top 65 hardest holes last season (score relative to par). This course is much shorter than the South course, which is why it plays easier, and it will actually feel much shorter, because a lot of the scorecard distance is taken up by all the par 3's playing over 200 yards. There is a handful of par 4's that are under 400 yards and should be easily handled, especially by those that can really bomb it off the tee. The story is the same on this course as it was on the south course though, without all the length. Fairways are mostly narrow, and bunkers are placed right where tee shots are expected to land on a lot of the holes. They also place bunkers on both sides of most of the greens to catch the errant shots, but bunkers are the course's only defense since there are not many trees and no water hazards.
Between the North and South courses, they will be playing five of the top 65 hardest holes from the tour last year, including the single hardest hole (12th on the South course). Of the eight par 3's they'll see, only one of them is less than 200 yards. Both of these courses are hard, however, there's eight par 5's and seven of them are the easiest holes they'll see on the weekend, so Par 5 Scoring will be extremely important.
Due to the length of the courses, Driving Distance will play a key role, but if things get too wild they'll just be playing all of their shots from fairway bunkers or watching them roll down into the canyons. For that reason, Ball-Striking should be something important to look at, since it takes into account both driving distance and accuracy. It also takes into account Greens in Regulation, which is going to be important especially on all of those long approaches.
Speaking of long approaches, the longer the approach comes from the less chance there is of hitting a green, obviously, so good Scrambling will keep these guys in contention. Other than a couple of years of low scores, there isn't a ton of scoring in this tournament, so it's especially important to keep bogey off the card and capitalize on the few scoring chances there are.
Other stats to consider: Approaches 200+, Par 3 Scoring, Shots Gained: Approach, Shots Gained: Off the Tee
Images and measurements were done on 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 the center of the fairway to the center of the 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. However, I do note where possible on each hole if things like elevation and wind could impact how the hole plays.