DFS Golf: 2018 PGA Championship Course Preview – Bellerive Country Club

It’s time for the last Major of the year, Glory’s last chance, The PGA Championship!

My name is Josh Thomas, aka DFSUpNorth and I write the Chalk Donkey article for VIP’s every week here at DFS Army looking at who the chalk plays are in DFS Golf and who you can pivot to. That article is a 5000 word deep dive analysis of the player pool and looks at if you need to eat the chalk especially in cash games, and who some pivots are using our world class Research Station.

We have finally reached the last major of the year, glory’s last chance, the PGA Championship. This year the PGA Championship heads to the midwest, St. Louis, Missouri and Bellerive Country Club. Bellerive Country Club has been around since 1897, but at it’s current location since 1960. The course was designed by legendary architect Robert Trent Jones Sr.

RTJ’s son Rees Jones led a redesign in 2005-2006 that lengthened the course as well as redesigned many of the green and bunker complexes. He also created a few more risk/reward holes expanding the creek into a lake on the par 4 second that brings double bogey into play. He also added bunkers around the course that punish a ‘greedy’ player. No doubt this course will frustrate players, but good ballstriking will be rewarded with prime birdie opportunities.

The course was designed around a creek that winds its way throughout the course coming into play on nine holes and water hazards are in play on 11 holes. Deep bunkers are a trademark here and punish any player who misses a green or bails out of an approach shot. Players will be faced with some of the longest bunker shots they have all year from around the green.

Bellerive hosted the US Open in 1965 (won by Gary Player), the PGA Championship in 1992 (won by Nick Price), and the BMW Championship in 2008 (won by Camillo Villegas). Interestingly enough all players who reside outside the United States, which is trend that I think we probably see continue here this year.

Bellerive measures at just under 7600 yards and will play as a par 70 this week. While long, the aggressive player who is accurate and long (in that order) off the tee can play this course much shorter by taking lines over bunkers and trees. The greens are bent grass and the fairways a zoysia mix which we don’t see on tour that often.

Hole by Hole Course Preview:

Hole #1

Par 4 425 yards 

Straight away hole measuring at 425 yards. Bunkers guard the fairway in the landing zone. Some of the longer hitters could feasibly hit it over them, but I doubt many go for it. Most will lay up with a three wood and have a mid iron into the green. Fairway is also crowned funneling balls into the rough on each side, which is dead, especially left with a left hole location. Green is protected by deep bunkers, but is wide. If you hit the fairway par should be no problem, anything that misses or ends up fairway bunker though brings bogey or worse into play.

Interestingly, the 1st fairway has an old graveyard underneath it. Headstones have been removed, but the caskets are still entombed below it. Creepy.

Hole #2

Par 4, 410 yards

One of the shorter par 4’s on the course with water left off the tee, but for the most part a pretty easy tee shot into a decently wide fairway if players are smart. Don’t need to hit driver here, in fact don’t even need to hit 3 wood. The key is to just get it into the fairway as from there you can

be aggressive into the green for a good birdie opportunity. Front left hole locations might bring the water into play on approach or if the wind picks up it could mess with some players. Some guys may get aggressive and hit a big driver right at the green, but I think the proper play is to find the fairway and have a wedge into a green you can attack.

Hole #3 

Par 3, 148 yards 

A birdie hole for many of the players depending on the hole location and wind. Big green, semi surrounded by water, but should play as one of the easiest holes on the course. Left side of the green has a spine that feeds balls into the hole locations over there. I would assume we see the pin there in one of the first two rounds, and if it is, there will almost certainly be a hole in one (check back for the prop bet on that) Long is safe and but its important to judge the distance correctly here. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a pin placement in the front right on Sunday, enticing players to go for it, but if they are even a yard short they will end up in the water.

Players goals should be to walk off this hole at the very least -1 on the round. Some may even be -2. Even isn’t the end of the world, but with the difficulty coming up they may have wasted an opportunity.

 

Hole #4 

Par 4, 521 yards 

This long par 4 is actually played as a par 5 for the Bellerive membership. A slight dogleg left, the tee shot requires a Right to left shape, a draw for righties, to avoid the bunkers on the right side. Fairway is tight, but you have to hit driver here or you’re too far back/hitting a fairway wood into the green (unless your DJ).  Overcook the draw though and you will have a large tree in your way and will likely have to punch out to get a look at the green. We may actually see players lay up here, particularly if the pin is in the back of the green.

Par is a great score here. A few guys make sneak birdies with front pin locations. Take your par and run, but not too fast because the next two holes are just as tough.

 

 

Hole #5

Par 4, 471 yards 

Robert Trent Jones the original designer, loved to say he wanted to create holes that were “hard pars, and easy bogeys”, this hole is another that fits that description well. Fairway kicks balls right into the rough, so you need to start the ball up the left side, or hit a draw that brings it back to the left and negates the slope. Rough brings in bogey at best for most players on this hole. Green is guarded by deep bunkers and will produce some long bunker shots especially with pins in the back. Pin in the front may allow players who hit the fairway to attack and steal a birdie here.

 

 

Hole #6 

Par 3, 213 yards 

This longer par 3 is considered the ‘signature’ hole at Bellerive. Water in the front and bunkers back protect this thin, but long, two tiered green. Played a stroke over par at the 1965 US Open held here for what thats worth. Getting it up to the back tier will be difficult, while the front of the green appears to be shaved and we might see guys spin the ball of the front back into the water. Pins in the middle will see balls funneled towards the cup and will allow for some birdie opportunities.

Hole #7 

Par 4, 394 yards 

Finally we get an easy hole, but like everything here there is trouble that can be found if you aren’t careful. A straight forward tee shot, longer hitters needing to be careful of the bunkers, the key being to hit the  fairway so you can attack the green. Not very undulating, but protected by bunkers this hole should yield plenty of birdies. A creek running along the left is in play on guys that don’t judge the depth of the green on back left pin placements. Anything from the rough could end up in the creek too if they aren’t careful.

Hole #8

Par 5, 610 yards

The first of two par 5’s on the course this beast measures at 610 yards but actually plays much shorter with the removal of a left side fairway bunker. Longer hitters will be able to clear the dog leg and most likely get home in two. There is a creek up the right side of this fairway and needs to be considered on tee shots. Green is wide but fairly shallow and will require a high arcing iron shot to hold it on a second shot. Eagle is in play for the longer hitters, and most will have good looks at birdie as long as they don’t get distracted by the cemetery that is perched right over the left side of the green.

Hole #9 

Par 4, 433 yards. Uphill the whole way, this will play as one of the most difficult holes on the course this week. Not a hole I want to be finishing RD 2 on as we could see guys make bogey here to miss the cut by one. A bottlenecked fairway in the landing zone may cause some of the longer hitters to club down off the tee to ensure they keep it in the fairway. An uphill approach into a large green complex will make it difficult to judge distance of approach shots. The green is large and extremely sloped making for some interesting putts, and up and downs for guys who aren’t dialed in with their approaches. Should see birdies if pins are in the front bowl, but anywhere else and par is a great score.

 

Making the Turn

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Hole #10 

Par 4, 508 yards

This long par 4 plays as a par 5 for the Bellerive membership and will be a difficult start for players teeing off on number 10 to start their round. A big dog leg left, the tee shot is a tight and difficult one and anything left is dead. Either in the bunker, or completely blocked out by trees. Another shallow green (we’re starting to see a trend here) that is protected by bunkers. Mid to short irons with a good tee shot. No real easy pin placements here so par will be a great score.

Hole #11 

Par 4, 355 yards

A short par 4 that depending on where the PGA decides to place the tees, we could see it as a driveable par 4! I love risk/reward holes like this and my assumption is that we see them use the forward tees on Saturday making this around a 290 yard par 4 that the players can drive. From the back tees you are basically just picking a yardage you want to hit into the green. Some guys may end up going for it regardless of where the tees are but need to be wary of the pond that guards the front right. I think the optimal play is to give yourself a short wedge into this green from the fairway, take your birdie and move on. A driver that misses left deals with some awkward lies due to some humps on the left side of the green that may make it so you can’t even get it near the hole. Theres a small margin for error from the back tees with driver so I would assume most guys will go with iron or 3 wood and try to hit a wedge close.

Hole #12

Par 4, 452 yards 

One of the most visually stunning holes on the course, the par 4 12th starts with an elevated tee shot and dog legs left (A draw plays really well all over this course) with an easy landing area. Avoid the bunkers up the left and you will have a perfect look into this huge green. Another birdie hole if your approach game is on.

Hole #13

Par 3, 180 yards 

This straightaway par 3 looks easy at first, but the roller coaster green will be difficult to navigate if the pin is in the middle or back. The slope of the green will help players funnel the ball to the right and left pins. Anything in the back on the plateau or spine though is going to make a two putt difficult. Could see birdies here depending on the pin placement but par will be a good score most days.

 

Hole #14 

Par 4, 410 yards 

Hole 14 starts whats known as the “Ridge” a three hole stretch that is perched on the highest point of Bellerive Country Club (I hate that every course has a three hole stretch named something but thats just me).

A big draw for the righties is the ideal play here and can allow you to get pretty close to the green, bringing birdie into play. Some guys may choose to right over the trees instead of playing the dog leg. The risk with that is if it gets caught up in the rough you may not have a look at pins on the left side of this green. Pretty easy green complex that should yield birdies if players are sharp with their approach game.

Hole #15 

Par 4, 495 yards

Another long par 4 that plays into the traditional winds here, making it even longer. Players will pull driver and try to hit it as long and as straight as possible. Anything that misses the fairway here is in big trouble. The green slopes hugely from right to left and if you miss it will be a difficult up and down. Back bunker is dead, I would rather be short than long. Going to take some really good around the green game to get up and down here for par if you miss the green.

 

 

Hole #16 

Par 3, 237 yards 

This long par 3 is one of the more difficult tee shots on the course. At 237 yards from an elevated tee box, you have to carry the ball the whole way as the green is perched up and anything short will funnel into some DEEP bunkers that will be difficult to get out of, let alone get the ball close. Anything left, right, deep, or short is in trouble and will struggle to make par.

Hole #17 

Par 5, 597 yards

The penultimate hole here is one that players should be thinking 3 on from the moment they peg it. At 590 yards while long, players should still be able to have a mid iron into a fairly easy green complex. There is also a tee box that we could see the PGA use that makes this a 530 yard par 5. At that point even the shortest hitters are licking their chops and thinking eagle. Right is dead with the creek running up the right of the fairway. Front pin placements will see the most eagles but in the back you could see some guys run it back there and have a good look. A creative shot here can make an eagle a real possibility. I think we see the championship won here next Sunday.

 

Hole #18 

Par 4, 457 yards

A great finishing hole, the par 4, 457 yard 18th will not give up many birdies this week and most players will be just trying to hang on to a good round. Most of the players will lay up to avoid the bunkers on the right, while some will try to carry the ones on the left and that could be the ideal play for guys needing a birdie to make the cut, or get into the clubhouse with a good number. A wide and shallow green makes an approach difficult and anything tucked into the back will be difficult to access. A fairly easy up and down if you miss the green as the complex isn’t that severe, but if it was me I’d want to hit the fairway hit the green two putt and get out of there.

Key Stats:

After going through the course there are a couple things that stick out to me in terms of the type of golfer that you want to target here. Golfers who are long and accurate with a great approach game will be successful here. I think we can target golfers who maybe have mediocre approach games if their Around the Green game is solid, as getting up and difficult will be difficult here. Ultimately I think we need Accuracy > Distance but a combination of the two will be key for guys who are going to vault up the leaderboard. I also want golfers who shape the ball right to left, while most can, some have a traditional fade ball flight (Justin Thomas) and while I don’t think thats a deterrent, it is something I will weigh a bit.

The stats I’m going to target in our Research Station this week that the DFS Army VIP’s have access to are:

Field Adjusted Driving Accuracy %

Field Adjusted Driving Distance 

Field Adjusted Fantasy Points Gained 

Fantasy Points Long Par 4’s 

Fantasy Points Medium Par 4’s 

Projected Course Score (a stat that is exclusive to us here at DFS Army) 

Adjusted Field Rank (another stat exclusive to us) 

Here’s an example of what our Research Station looks like. With tabs showing what sort of stats statistically correlate to a strong performance here. A look at the best tournaments at courses over the last 5+ years and what players did well and tons of other information to help you build the best line up possible!

One thing we look at and provide our VIP’s with is Vegas Odds drifts. We take the original odds at 5-6 different books, combine them, and look at how much odds change over the week leading up to the tournament. We will show odds drift at majors from when odds are posted to Monday of tournament week and then again on Wednesday. Its a great to see where the money is coming in. Last week Justin Thomas had one of the biggest positive drifts and ended up winning. We often see positive drift correlating to a good performance and thats just another tool we provide our VIPs with here at DFS Army.

We will be going over all of this and more in our members only SLACK CHAT with over 1000 members actively engaged in helping each other build the best roster they can, from PGA to MLB to NFL to Tennis we have it all and we have the experts to help you get in the green!

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Content Schedule for PGA Championship Week:

Monday: 

Course Preview – DFSUpNorth

Schnarr’s Superpicks – Brody

Research Station/Domination Station uploaded

Tuesday:

ChalkDonkey VIP Article Drops – DFSUpNorth

Taco Tuesday Podcast Free but with deep dive for VIPs Only – Taco

Wednesday:

 

Live course report from @choppodong who will be on course for the Wednesday Practice Rounds

Drifts updated

Final Notes – Taco, DFSUpNorth, Brody

Slack chat help lineup building!

Sunday: 

Screenshots of all our VIPs Big Wins!

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