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The 6 Biggest Myths About TrackMan

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Recently, there has been quite a bit of discussion on TrackMan and technology warning golfers and teachers to be wary of TrackMan. I actually agree with some of what has been said, however, I feel as though there are quite a few misconceptions about TrackMan that are either just misunderstood or sometimes flat out “fake news.”

Here are the most common things I hear and have seen from tech or TrackMan naysayers. Inspired by fact-checking websites in the political world we all have been living in, I will grade each of these statements with five categories. TRUE, LACKING CONTEXT, IT’S COMPLICATED, MOSTLY SPIN, or FALSE.

Full disclosure, I worked for TrackMan for three years. If you think that makes me biased, you are entitled to that opinion, but I would strongly argue it only makes me more qualified to make an impartial judgement on these statements. After I left TrackMan, I had the decision just as every other teaching professional out there of what launch monitor to buy. Spoiler alert, I bought TrackMan.

No. 6: TrackMan numbers are wrong if you don’t hit the ball on the center of the face

Grade: FALSE

This one is completely false and comes from a misunderstanding of the numbers. TrackMan always calculates the face angle from where you hit the ball on the face. It doesn’t matter if you hit it center, on the heel, on the toe or in the hosel. TrackMan will tell you where that spot on the face was pointed at impact.

All things constant, if you hit one shot dead center on the face and the next shot exactly the same but 1 inch towards the toe (excluding twist face here) you will get a Face Angle number of 5 degrees more open. When reading these numbers, you will see the face angle open to the path, but the ball will hook.

This is where people don’t understand the numbers and get confused. TrackMan is accurate on both numbers, but because there is gearing in this shot the gear effect overrides the face-to-path ratio in the ultimate curvature of the ball. Great news for this is that TrackMan is about to release a software update that shows where the ball was hit on the face so you can understand the gearing even easier.

No. 5: TrackMan is Measuring a Blob Hitting a Blob

Grade: MOSTLY SPIN

While this isn’t necessarily a completely false statement, it is extremely misleading. If you or I were to look at a raw radar readout from TrackMan (like the one above), we would absolutely just see some blobs — but that by no means says anything about TrackMan or the accuracy of its data.

There are very smart people and highly intelligent software that take the readout and tell us exactly what happened at impact and in the resultant ball flight. For context, I once sent a raw radar file to TrackMan HQ because I didn’t understand what was going on with some of the numbers. After looking at this file one of the TrackMan engineers asked me, “Hunter, are you using a big plastic tee on a mat about 3 inches high and 2 inches in diameter?” He was exactly right. That is what I was using, and unfortunately it caused some interference with the radar.

The TrackMan engineers could look at that “blob” and tell me the exact dimensions and shape of a plastic tee I was using without any prior knowledge. People who say TrackMan is just measuring a blob hitting a blob don’t fully understand the technology… or they have another agenda.

No. 4: TrackMan Takes Out the Feel of the Game

Grade: MOSTLY SPIN

There is no doubt that I have seen and even personally experienced times where I felt like I was trying to perfect the numbers and got wrapped up in the 28 different data points TrackMan offers. This has absolutely nothing to do with the machine, however, and everything to do with the coach or teacher.

If your teacher is using TrackMan in a way that makes you feel trapped by positions and numbers, then your coach isn’t judging you well and is not using TrackMan properly. I still haven’t heard TrackMan ever tell me or one of my students that a shot was “bad” (but maybe Amazon will join in and Alexa can tell us we all stink).

I have used TrackMan for 10 years, and the coolest thing about it is that once you understand the numbers and the relationship they create between golf swing and causality of ball flight, you can get away from being technical. It actually helps to create feel in my students because they can relate the number to a feel in their golf swing. Now that they have the information or feel based on those numbers, they realize and learn how far they have to change things in order to actually accomplish a change in ball flight.

No. 3: TrackMan Can’t See the Face

Grade: LACKING CONTEXT

Yes, TrackMan is positioned behind the ball, driver and golfer. So technically speaking, it cannot directly see the front of the club face at impact. This doesn’t mean that it cannot accurately calculate the face angle of the golf club. With the new Trackman 4, it can actually bend the radar waves around the shape of an object to more accurately calculate club face numbers.

Without getting super scientific, the easiest way to explain this is by thinking about cell phone reception. Just because you are behind a wall or underneath a building doesn’t mean you cannot get cell service. The waves bend. If you would like to learn more on this subject, click the following link: https://blog.trackmangolf.com/looking-around-corners-radar/

No. 2: TrackMan is Too Expensive

Grade: IT’S COMPLICATED

I know you’re already thinking this is a cop out answer, but I strongly believe otherwise. Because what is too expensive? Isn’t that a relative term? No, I am not saying that $16,000-$25,000 is not a lot of money, and I’m also not saying every golfer should invest in a TrackMan. What I am saying is that there is absolutely a high value in an investment in TrackMan.

If you are a teaching professional or golf course, Trackman is vital to your operation. I know of hundreds of PGA Professionals including myself who have not just paid off their TrackMan, but make more money because of it.

No. 1: TrackMan isn’t Perfect

Grade: TRUE

This is absolutely true, and I have never heard anyone from TrackMan nor users who know the system ever make this statement. TrackMan has limitations as all technology does. It has made a mistake (once or twice) in the numbers. The good news is that TrackMan is and always has been the best, most accurate launch monitor on the market. This is directly due to how TrackMan is operated as a company, the tolerances it has for its products, the hundreds of employees who ensure mistakes don’t happen and the millions of dollars invested testing its own product.

TrackMan continues to push itself and the golf industry by constantly innovating and questioning its own product. So if there is a limitation, you can guarantee the engineers at TrackMan are hard at work trying to solve it.

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PGA Member and Golf Professional at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville, NC. Former PGA Tour and Regional Representative for TrackMan Golf. Graduate of Campbell University's PGM Program with 12 years of experience in the golf industry. My passion for knowledge and application of instruction in golf is what drives me everyday.

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Doug

    Mar 30, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    What about the health risk with the radar? I read stories about soldiers which got cancer from working with radar systems

  2. randy

    Mar 20, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Most of you people are just mad because you can’t afford it and don’t understand all the data it gives you. And if you think the distance isn’t accurate don’t tell Dustin Johnson!

  3. Myron miller

    Mar 15, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I’ve used a trackman a number of times and have yet to have the distance a drive was hit correct from trackman. And when I talked to a trackman rep at one course, he indicated that they use “pro conditions” for estimating rollout. it has given me consistently total distance in the 250-280 range with the ball actually landing 180-190 and then rolling out according to it’s internal calculations another 40-90 yards. IN real life, if i get 20 yards roll, i’m ecstatic. And i use a gps and also range finders to get actual yardage in real life so i know they’re reasonably accurate.

    Nothing in this article other than author bias that trackman is better or worse than any foresight tool or several others. The article is strictly biased that trackman is the best for everything and nothing else works as well overall. As several replies above indicate, that is not necessarily accurate by a large margin. Each is better depending upon how the person uses it and what information is being derived and used. Trackman can be beneficial and it can be harmful. It depends upon how the person using it actually uses the data. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and user really.

    It’s a good tool that can be misused and is sometimes misleading. Like any tool, one has to understand the numbers and where they come from, which are calculated, which are actual and which are useful to the task being performed at the time. If tracking the swing thru the complete swing, then trackman is mostly useless. Other tools much better, such as swingbyte. Telling what the clubhead is doing at point of impact and path of the ball flight, then Trackman is excellent.

  4. Shafted

    Mar 15, 2018 at 2:06 am

    Trackman 5 will be able to see through your shirt. They will be installing them at airports as you walk thru the barrier with your golf clubs. It is going to know how many inches your shafts are.

  5. Martin

    Mar 14, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Hallelujah!!

  6. Michael Pasquill

    Mar 14, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    My issue with trackman is that it does not take into account is the affect of wind, air temp, or humidity when a person is hitting a ball especially inside it is a vacuum when you are inside. Outside I have seen it have issues too. I would rather do the evaluation on my feel and the trajectory that I am looking for. As a slow swing person under 80 mph many of the drivers are designed for players with higher swing speeds which does not help me a bit. Its about the shaft of the club for the most part.

    • Ben

      Mar 15, 2018 at 3:33 am

      Actually it does.
      TrackMan tracks the full ball flight outdoor incl. temp, wind, humidity.. they even have a normalize feature where you can see how the data would look like if you change to no wind, another temp or elevation.

    • Pat

      Apr 1, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      False. There’s a Normalize function on Trackman to remove outside factors. You can add in temperature as well. Think of it, fitters would never be able to fit on windy days…

    • AndyK

      Apr 1, 2018 at 7:42 pm

      you’re wrong here, its why tour guys travel with them and get their carry yardages based on environment they are in while practicing.

  7. Aaatkr

    Mar 14, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    GC Quad for my money. It shows your lie angle and contact point at impact. Trackman cannot. A picture is worth a thousand words.

    • AZ

      Mar 15, 2018 at 11:03 am

      It lies to you about the angles and a wrong picture costs you thousand of explanations. Just because a system put a number or a picture out there doesn’t mean it’s (close to) accurate.

  8. Dave

    Mar 14, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    How much did Trackman pay you to say all of this, it’s clearly a sponsored article. I work in the military and can catogorically tell you radar can not see round corner and will prove it if you want me to. As you a coach you are brilliant and stick that.

    • Anthony

      Mar 14, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      “THIS” A radar beam can’t bend around corners!
      GC Quad is A much better unit for teaching and fitting and yes, I have used both as I am a custom fitter and instructor. Nice sponsored article lol….
      And about price, GC Quad is too expensive as well!

      • Hunter Brown

        Mar 15, 2018 at 8:40 am

        Hey Anthony thanks for the reply here but see below for info on how TrackMan can see around corners

        Radar waves from TrackMan DO see around the clubhead. The physics are a bit complicated, but here we go:

        The wavelength of the TrackMan radar is ½-1½ inches – this is in the same order of magnitude as the club head and golf ball. This means that the radar reflection, the so-called scattering mechanism, is in the ‘resonance region’ (see f.ex. http://www.radartutorial.eu/01.basics/Rayleigh-%20versus%20Mie-Scattering.en.html a simplified explanation of this).

        In the ‘resonant region’ the reflecting objects generates ‘creeping waves’ that wraps around the object. An electromagnetic field that impact an object, will generate a current on this object, current are ‘closed loops’ which means the current will also run on parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave. The current will then generate a new electromagnetic field (the reflected signal) which will consequently also be radiated from parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave.

        However, no matter the physical explanation the raw data from TrackMan clearly shows that we can see ‘around’ the club head. F.ex. it is clear in the radar signal from TrackMan exactly when the ball separates from the club face despite the club head occluding the ball completely.

    • Hunter Brown

      Mar 15, 2018 at 8:46 am

      Dave thanks for reading and the comment. Unfortunately I am not paid by TM, anymore, as I stated in the article I did work for TrackMan for 3 years. Also see below for the explanation on TM seeing around corners.

      Radar waves from TrackMan DO see around the clubhead. The physics are a bit complicated, but here we go:

      The wavelength of the TrackMan radar is ½-1½ inches – this is in the same order of magnitude as the club head and golf ball. This means that the radar reflection, the so-called scattering mechanism, is in the ‘resonance region’ (see f.ex. http://www.radartutorial.eu/01.basics/Rayleigh-%20versus%20Mie-Scattering.en.html a simplified explanation of this).

      In the ‘resonant region’ the reflecting objects generates ‘creeping waves’ that wraps around the object. An electromagnetic field that impact an object, will generate a current on this object, current are ‘closed loops’ which means the current will also run on parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave. The current will then generate a new electromagnetic field (the reflected signal) which will consequently also be radiated from parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave.

      However, no matter the physical explanation the raw data from TrackMan clearly shows that we can see ‘around’ the club head. F.ex. it is clear in the radar signal from TrackMan exactly when the ball separates from the club face despite the club head occluding the ball completely.

    • AZ

      Mar 15, 2018 at 11:06 am

      I think i agree with you on that single point. The face angle is calculated based on toe and heel positions, and impact location. And buldge and roll where all brands used to have the same

  9. Coach Vitti

    Mar 14, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    Well, nice try, but superficial. I’m a retired teaching pro and never, once, used a trackman in my sessions. First reason? Cost. I could make zero business sense out of buying or leasing a Trackman or any other expensive launch monitors. Second reason? While I know that spin rates and directions, launch angles, path and club face angles matter, they really only matter to low-handicappers, pros and salesmen!

    I never, once, had a student ask me “Hey, Coach, where’s your $25,000 launch monitor? Don’t we need the 28 ‘data’ points it provides?” Whether 28 points or 280 points, it’s not something that is going to benefit most amateurs as they struggle to get the club back to the ball!

    I’ve only used a launch monitor on my own swing during a fitting. That’s an appropriate use of the technology, even for amateurs. It gives the fitter valuable information to fit the correct clubs to your swing and nothing more.

    Besides, I can get all the information I need during a lesson from a $200 Swingbyte. That fits most pro’s budgets and get a better than 80% solution for 90% of students. Unfortunately, my season-long test of that tech failed to meet my reliability standards.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I am also a retired Systems Engineer with 20 years in Test and Evaluation. I spent several years around Doppler radar systems. So, please tell me how many ‘data points’ are actual measurements and how many are ‘calculated’? Hmmmmm….

    And how about calibration? How about the human-in-the-loop (operator)? How about software bugs?

    I also know snake oil salesmen.

    • Regis

      Mar 15, 2018 at 7:41 am

      I’m retired in a golf centric area and there are a lot of courses within 20 minutes of my home. I’ve been playing for over 50 years and have taken a lot of lessons. I will take an occasional lesson with any good pro but when it comes to a lesson package I only work with a pro that has launch monitor and video technology preferably outdoors.(I will never take an indoor lesson) Not for every lesson necessarily but integrated into the teaching. And I almost never buy a club without using a launch monitor. I appreciate the cost involved for the pro but from the students perspective that’s what I look for. It’s easily available and at least in terms of a lesson package it should be standard. Like bringing your car to a mechanic. They all have diagnostic equipment. Some have more sophisticated equipment.

    • Hunter Brown

      Mar 15, 2018 at 8:53 am

      Coach Vitti thanks for taking the time to read and reply with your experience. I am glad you had a successful career teaching. I never stated you had to have TrackMan to be a great teacher. There have been plenty of great teachers before TrackMan and still great teachers today who do not use TrackMan like a Butch Harmon. I simply choose to use it and encourage others to use it as it makes the learning process more efficient. Also from my experience TrackMan is best suited for Amateurs not scratch golfers or tour pros. The reason I believe this is because tour pros or already have good “numbers”. That is why they strike the ball so well and play for a living. They use it mostly as you stated for club fitting, distance training, and checking in on things. Amateurs or the 5-25 handicap range can find using TrackMan very positive because it helps them understand the difference between feel and real. If you are ever in Asheville, NC and are curious about how teachers use TM please let me know! I would be happy to show you how I use it and hopefully you will see that it is positive and not detrimental to the game of golf.

  10. JustWellsy

    Mar 14, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Most people reading this are not Golf pros and for us it’s ridiculously expensive. It would be expensive for most of us at $2,000. You are not considering the little guy at all.

    This article was mostly a waste of time other than the very first point, which is informative for a lot of folks. Plus, one of the “myths” was true! Haha. Honestly, this article feels to me like you had a couple good points in your mind and had to manufacture additional content in order to make an article out of it.

    You are not outwardly bias, but you do have an “entrenchment” bias that is subconscious. I would bet that if you worked for foresight you would have bought a GC Quad. It’s easy for you to refute that by simply saying no, but think of what you’d know about the inner workings of that machine vs trackman and having never worked for them.

    I get the intent and appreciate your work as a teaching pro, but for me you missed the mark for your likely target audience. Consider this like a movie review where I express my opinion and my opinion only. Thanks.

    • Hunter Brown

      Mar 15, 2018 at 8:59 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting your thoughts. I agree with some and think I could have included a little more for the average amateur. What I would suggest here instead of recommending another price point launch monitor is to encourage your pro at your club to look into getting TrackMan or find someone in your area who has and uses TM for teaching and fitting. Also to your point about Foresight, you can definitely make the argument that I have entrenchment but I don’t think that makes this article invaluable. The point of the article was to dispel the misconceptions people make about TrackMan it had nothing to do with other launch monitors. Also honestly I never would have gone to work for Foresight and that is not a bash on them. I worked at 2 clubs before I worked at TrackMan and had the opportunity to recommend a launch monitor purchase. We looked at several and decided on TrackMan because it was the best then and is the best now.

  11. Leonard

    Mar 14, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Excellent piece. Well thought out and explained!

  12. Frank Xavier

    Mar 14, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Definitely an interesting analysis and description. It could have been more insightful with some comparative observations to more economic solutions like Skytrak which according to their side by side produces very close results to Trackman for a fraction of the cost.

  13. Tim S

    Mar 14, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    I think TrackMan is in invaluable tool. You can stand on the range and hit different drivers and watch them go, but the info you need really isn’t there without something measuring it. Spin and launch angle are hugely important in distance, and TrackMan gives you that info.

    TrackMan can help you select a club. It’s up to you to dial it in.

  14. Blake

    Mar 14, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I wish he would have addressed indoor data performance and touched on the comparison to Flightscope. Regardless of that, good article and information.

    • Gregs

      Mar 14, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Trackman is not great for indoor use for the driver or most clubs that gear effect is more prominent, since trackman can not follow the ball after it hits the screen. Hitting it on the toe comes up as a block even though it would gear back to center if not left of center. Foresight GCQuad is the best for indoor use and indoor fitting as it’s picks up strike zone and it will pick up gear effect. Outside trackman actually follows the ball so it takes in to account gear effect through tracking the actual ball throughout its flight. Trackman wins in the outside environment.

      • Judge

        Mar 14, 2018 at 6:45 pm

        My guess is that the whole indoor debate will change very soon. Just like TrackMan how couldn’t measure impact location or dynamic lie.. Their track record speaks for itself!

      • RJ

        Apr 3, 2018 at 1:08 am

        Thumbs up on your comments…. I use both in different fashions and can boast about features and benefits for both. To each his own based on his / her finances..

  15. MIKEYP

    Mar 14, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I got a trackman and went to a secluded range with a pro and hit several shots. The pro went out into the range and put stakes in ground were the ball landed and were it finished. The trackman said the balls were landing at certain distances and then gave a total distance number. The distances were ALL 4+ yards off from were the ball actually landed and finished. I trust the spin, launch angle and other recorded data is reasonably accurate but the yardages were off every time. Might be the air density, ball, contact etc but the Trackman told a different story than the actual distance.

    • John

      Mar 14, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      Hey Dummy…. It isn’t going to get roll out right every time.

      • Coach Vitti

        Mar 15, 2018 at 10:15 pm

        I think I’m the only guy in Texas who can back up a drive! Trackman can’t calculate that!

    • larrybud

      Mar 14, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      What did you measure the stakes with and how do you know that was accurate?? Did they read long or short? Was this your trackman or the pros? Are you guys certified?

      • MIKEYP

        Mar 15, 2018 at 10:28 am

        Chris Moody is the certified pro. We were at a private range at a country club. Some of the shots came up short and some long. He would go to were the ball landed (he’s dangerously standing down range and would go to where the ball hit) and put a stake in the ground. Then went out to where the ball settled and put another stake. We then compared trackman and the distance was off every time. We were simply testing the accuracy of the distance. And yes John, I am a dummy.

  16. raynorfan1

    Mar 14, 2018 at 11:43 am

    “If you are a teaching professional or golf course, Trackman is vital to your operation.”

    How is Trackman “vital” to the operation of a golf course?

    Teaching professional, I get. Club fitter, I get. Pro shop, I get.

    Golf course?

    • Andrew Cooper

      Mar 14, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      “Vital to your operation…”? I’m sure there are plenty of pros and facilities managing ok with their Flightscopes and GC2 Quads.

      • Hunter Brown

        Mar 15, 2018 at 8:44 am

        Andrew I do not disagree with that my main point was that information is vital and I choose TrackMan because it is the best information out there. However my intent was not to turn this into a TrackMan vs conversation just to explain the misconceptions people have

  17. larrybud

    Mar 14, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Hunter, I’m sorry but this is NOT accurate:

    “it can actually bend the radar waves around the shape of an object”

    No, it CANT actually bend the radar waves, and the link you referenced give a simplified description of how it works, but radar does NOT “bend”. In fact, the link talks about cell phone signals bend through walls, but that’s not accurate either. They go THROUGH them because of the wavelength. See this link for more info:

    http://www.physlink.com/Education/AskExperts/ae175.cfm

    Radar is just radio waves, which is a high frequency light wave. Light does not “bend” (* yes, high gravitational objects such as planets/stars/black holes bend space, and thus light does bend around them, but that’s not what we’re talking about here!).

    I think it’s important to be accurate in such articles, especially if your goal is to expel myths!

    • Hunter Brown

      Mar 14, 2018 at 11:32 am

      Larry thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I may have used a slightly misleading word in “bend” I was simply trying to explain the general idea without getting super scientific as I am not qualified to have that kind of conversation. I am just a golf pro! I understand your point though

    • Hunter Brown

      Mar 15, 2018 at 8:42 am

      Larry here is some follow up info on your question

      adar waves from TrackMan DO see around the clubhead. The physics are a bit complicated, but here we go:

      The wavelength of the TrackMan radar is ½-1½ inches – this is in the same order of magnitude as the club head and golf ball. This means that the radar reflection, the so-called scattering mechanism, is in the ‘resonance region’ (see f.ex. http://www.radartutorial.eu/01.basics/Rayleigh-%20versus%20Mie-Scattering.en.html a simplified explanation of this).

      In the ‘resonant region’ the reflecting objects generates ‘creeping waves’ that wraps around the object. An electromagnetic field that impact an object, will generate a current on this object, current are ‘closed loops’ which means the current will also run on parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave. The current will then generate a new electromagnetic field (the reflected signal) which will consequently also be radiated from parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave.

      However, no matter the physical explanation the raw data from TrackMan clearly shows that we can see ‘around’ the club head. F.ex. it is clear in the radar signal from TrackMan exactly when the ball separates from the club face despite the club head occluding the ball completely.

  18. Patrucknorm

    Mar 14, 2018 at 10:44 am

    If I were a pro golfer or a golf pro that teaches, I would invest in one these as a tool. As an amateur I’ve seen my numbers and they are helpful. But it’s a tool not an aid. It’s great for actual yardages and quantifying your swing efficiency. I still believe golf is a game of nuances/ feel. But frankly, I’d rather be playing than hitting balls indoors.

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Opinion & Analysis

Golfholics Course Review: Spyglass Hill Golf Course

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In this new course review series, Marko and Mike from Golfholics provide their takes on the golf courses they’ve played around the world. The first episode starts with the famed, yet often overlooked Spyglass Hill. Enjoy the video below, and don’t forget to check out more videos from Golfholics on their YouTube page!

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Redkacheek’s DFS Rundown: 2018 CJ Cup

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Wow, what a crazy start to this season! Not only has the cheat sheet and slack chat plays over at the Fantasy Golf Bag been on complete fire, but the new golf betting model has now hit on two outrights and one FRL in back-to-back weeks! We get a much better field this week so definitely plan to keep this heater going here at the CJ Cup this week. Brooks Koepka will be teeing it up for the first time since being named the 2018 POY, along with guys such as Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Paul Casey, Billy Horschel, and our new favorite Sungjae Im. As you can see, this will be a fairly exciting event for a setup as similar as last week’s tournament.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at this course and see if we can pinpoint some key stats to take us to another Big GPP win or at least a couple good choices for an outright win.

The CJ Cup will be played at the Club at Nine Bridges, a 7,196 yard par-72 golf course in South Korea. Although this may appear like a similar course to TPC Kuala Lumpur last week, this one will play quite significantly tougher. As you can see below, in 2017 there were more bogeys than birdies for the week which doesn’t happen much outside of majors. Justin Thomas won last year’s event after shooting 63 in the first round but failed to break 70 the following three days. JT finished at nine under, which tied Marc Leishman, who coincidentally won this last weekend (2019 Fall Swing narrative). So why so tough if it appears so short? Let’s take a look.

So first off, let’s get this out of the way first. These greens are brutal. No joke; these greens were the single most difficult greens to putt on all of last year. Everything from one-putt percentage to 3-putt avoidance, these ranked the No. 1 most difficult on Tour all year. But here’s the problem: We all know putting is the single most variable stat, so using SG:P will tend to lead to a very disappointing pool of players. For example, coming into last year the players ranked Top 10 in SG:P finished 11-33-47-40-28-64-36-26-71-36, respectively. There is a still a stat that helped fine-tune player pools last year that I will recommend this year: my first key stat to consider this week is 3-putt avoidance.

The next section here I will just briefly touch on the driving accuracy and GIR percentage for this course. It is very average for the PGA Tour…that is really all you need to know. Driving accuracy ranked 48th and GIR percentage ranked 38th in 2017. This course is not difficult tee-to-green, plain and simple. I will certainly add the usual SG:T2G this week along with GIR percentage, but this course will favor most guys this week.

So besides putting, why are these scores so poor considering the appearance of an easy course? Well besides putting on these greens, scrambling here is brutal. Scrambling also ranked No. 1 most difficult here last year but again, this is a stat that is extremely tough to see useful trends. I will, however, encourage you to use SG:ARG to help narrow down your player pool more efficiently.

Remember that this segment of the Fall Swing will not yield strokes-gained data, so we must only utilize the traditional stats the PGA Tour keeps. On top of all the micro-scoring stats mentioned above, let’s take a closer look at this course from a macro level. This will be fairly straightforward when building your model. The par 4s here are extremely difficult, so add SG:P4 Scoring to your research (par 3 scoring is also very difficult but sample sizes are usually too small to include each week). Par 5 scoring was difficult as well but there is a better stat we can use than the P4 scoring mentioned above. The final stat we will be using is simply bogey avoidance. This will do a fantastic job of incorporating T2G, scrambling and putting into our model/research.

Overall this course is really an amazing layout but will pose a difficult task for the players. Just like last week, I encourage you to ease into the season by playing light and also primarily playing GPPs.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into my core plays for this week…

Justin Thomas (DK $11,600)

Justin Thomas finally makes the core writeup. After a mediocre finish last week (5th place), he comes to Nine Bridges as the defending champion. Ironically, he beat out Marc Leishman, last week’s winner, in a playoff last year and I think he is going to be the guy to pay up for over $10k. JT won both CIMB Classic and The CJ Cup last year, and I would be very surprised if he doesn’t leave this leg of the Fall Swing (Asia) without a win. There’s a lot going for him outside of his recent form and course history (if that wasn’t enough), he ranks first in both SG:T2G and SG:APP, second in par 4 scoring, eighth in bogey avoidance and finally, surprisingly, 11th in 3-putt avoidance. If you are building only a few lineups this week, I think JT should be in around two-thirds of them.

Byeong-Hun An (DK $8,700)

Mr. Ben An makes the list again! Byeong-Hun An received a lot of praise from both Jacob and myself on the FGB Podcast last week and he did not disappoint with a 13th place finish, and really a strong chance to win going into the weekend. As part of a common theme you will see here, Ben An is the kind of consistent ball-striker to rely on each and every week. On the PGA Tour in the last 50 rounds, he ranks third along with a strong ranking in bogey avoidance (third) and GIR percentage (also third). He did play this event last year, finishing 11th at 4-under par, and if it weren’t for a final round 73 he had a realistic chance for the win! The price on Ben An is getting a little steep but I think we can still get some value out of it this week.

Kyle Stanley (DK $8,200)

Kyle Stanley should be considered a core play almost every week he is under $9K on DraftKings. One of the most elite ball strikers on Tour, ranking ninth in SG:T2G, 11th in SG:APP, sixth in GIR percentage and 14th in par 4 scoring, he sets up for another solid top 20. Last week Kyle finished 13th in Kuala Lumpur and now comes to Nine Bridges where he ended the tournament in 19th place last year. Kyle tends to be very “mediocre” so upside for a top 3 always seems to come sparingly during the season, but you still cannot ignore his skills at this price.

Charles Howell III (DK $7,700)

Charles Howell III is a lock for me this week. Coming off a strong showing last week (T5) but also an 11th-place finish at this event last year, he grades out as one of the strongest values this week at only $7,700. CH3 hadn’t played on the PGA Tour for over a month before appearing at Kuala Lumpur, causing him to fly well under the radar on his way to a solid top five finish. Always known as a superb ball-striker, Howell actually rates out 16th in bogey avoidance and 10th in 3-putt avoidance, both key stats for this golf course. Additionally, CH3 ranks inside the top 20 of both par 4 scoring and GIR percentage. In a no-cut event on a difficult ARG golf course, count on CH3 to gain enough placement points to pay off this solid price tag.

Ian Poulter (DK $7,600)

Ian Poulter may be extremely sneaky this week. We haven’t seen him since the Ryder Cup and most people that play DFS have severe recency bias. Poulter is a grinder, and considering the winning score should only be around 12-under par with lots of opportunities for bogeys, he should keep the wheels on all four days and have a chance on Sunday. One of the most surprising stats for me in my research on Poulter is that he ranks first in 3-putt avoidance, along with some impressive tee-to-green stats where he ranks inside the top 25 of all of my key stats mentioned above. Why is the 3-putt avoidance stat so important? As I noted in the course preview, these were the single most difficult greens to putt on last year with the worst 3-putt percentage. Outside of the key stats, it does seem like this course fits his eye as he finished 15th here last year. Ian Poulter will be another core play but I think he may come in quite under owned from where he probably should.

Joel Dahmen (DK $6,900)

Chalk Dahmen week is upon us and I am going to bite. Dahmen has been a DFS darling this year and last week was no different. Dahmen ended up finishing 26th which was largely due to a poor final round 71, which dropped him 11 spots. Even with that poor finish he was able to pay off his sub-$7K price tag, which is where we find him again this week. Dahmen ranks top 10 in this field in several key stats, including: SG:T2G, SG:APP, and bogey avoidance. If you need some salary savings but unsure about anyone under $7K, Dahmen should be your first look this week.

Also consider

Brooks Koepka
Jason Day
Marc Leishman
Paul Casey
Ryan Moore
Sungjae Im
Kevin Tway

Good luck this week everyone!

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Mondays Off: Bermuda vs. Bent grass, How to chip when into the grain

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How do you chip into the grain off of Bermuda grass without chunking the ball? Club pro Steve Westphal explains how to best handle the situation. Also, Westphal and Editor Andrew Tursky give advice on how to play in qualifiers or PAT (players assessment test) events, and they tell a few stories of their own.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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