If you haven’t yet caught your breath after an epic Masters weekend with a glorious leaderboard, don’t worry. We got you. The PGA Tour rolls right along this week and will make a stop at one of the players’ favorite courses of the year: Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. This is a links course through and through, so expect a much different feel than last week. On that note, let’s dive into this great tournament.
Looking back at the winners at Harbour Town, it’s pretty clear the type of player who has success on this track.
Jim Furyk and Boo Weekley have won twice, while Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Branden Grace, Wesley Bryan, Brandt Snedeker and Brian Gay have all taken down this tournament in the last decade. Also, Luke Donald may have the best history of anyone on this course, with seven top-three finishes despite not ever winning.
There’s not a bomber in the bunch, and for good reason. Harbour Town is a par-71 checking in at 7,100 yards, so it’s one of the shorter courses on tour. It’s also a difficult course to use driver and routinely ranks near the bottom in average driving distance. It also has the smallest greens on tour.
Basically, we’re looking for guys who can keep the ball in play off the tee and stick their irons. Because of the small greens, everyone is going to miss a few more iron shots than they’re used to, so I’m looking at scrambling and putting a little more than I would during the average week.
It’s also important not to overrate what we just saw at the Masters. Augusta and Harbour Town couldn’t be further apart on the spectrum, and only three of the past 13 winners at Harbour Town even played the weekend at Augusta. — Joshua Perry
Josh is exactly right, and I don’t have a lot more analysis to add. Instead, let me put some data behind everything. Using the FantasyLabs Trends tool, we can back-test a variety of metrics to see what types of players do well at Harbour Town. The baseline golfer last year produced a -0.94 DraftKings Plus/Minus. From there, I looked at how golfers in the top-20 percentile of each metric have historically fared at this course. Here’s the data …
Recent Greens in Regulation (GIR) back-tested the strongest of all metrics, and Long-Term Driving Accuracy (DA) was certainly up there as well. Whereas players needed to take advantage of Augusta National’s par-5s last week, that’s definitely not the case here. Look for the best ball-strikers in the field and ones who hit it the straightest. Also, putting seems to be more important than usual here, possibly because everyone is able to put it close to the hole because of the short distances. — Bryan Mears