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Should Augusta National lengthen the 13th hole, or leave it alone?

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It’s perhaps the most iconic par 5 in all of championship golf. It’s short and deceptively simple by professional standards, yet it remains the epitome of “risk/reward” golf due to the sharp dogleg to the left around Rae’s Creek (Jeff Maggert once made a 2, Tommy Nakajima once made a 13). Even casual Masters viewers know we’re talking about Azalea, the 13th hole at Augusta National. It is the first of two “must-birdie” holes on the back nine at the Masters. It is perhaps the most beautiful hole in golf, and one that has caused as much heartache as joy over the years as any.

But as mentioned, at only 510 yards, it is short… very short by modern professional standards; even shorter than some championship par 4s. Bubba hit a wedge in there a few years ago, and every player in the field can reach it easy in two with their average drive. Or, if you’re Phil, you can hit a 6 iron from the pine straw and knock it stiff en route to victory. But if you miss, the infamous “tributary” of Rae’s Creek awaits your slightest error.

The problem now is it seems that after even marginal drives and from not-the-best-lies can reach the green in two. So the Augusta National is thinking about making the hole longer. At Augusta, that is like saying they are GOING TO make the hole longer. Recently purchased property adjacent to that part of the course allows them to do it, too.

So our question for GolfWRX viewers is this: Good idea or bad idea?

  • On the good side: “it needs to be longer to keep up with the modern equipment and golf ball.”
  • On the bad side: “why mess with perfection and history? It is fine (exciting) the way it is.”

Before you weigh in, a point to consider: forget any bifurcation arguments, the Augusta National is just not going to butt heads with the USGA in creating a “Masters” ball. So let’s assume the equipment stays as is. In my opinion, here are a few possibilities:

  1. Make the penalty for going over the trees (the Bubba Route, but who knows how many more might soon consider it) more severe; perhaps OB?
  2. Add a little length to force them to use driver. Many of them now use three woods to turn it easier like they do on No. 10.
  3. Leave it alone. It’s the best short par-5 in major championship golf!

Do you think Augusta should lengthen the par-5 13th, or leave it alone? And why?

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Mat

    Apr 6, 2018 at 8:04 am

    It’s just “par”. Last I checked, these guys aren’t counting Stableford off of 14 caps. If you must, just call it a Par 4 and move on.

  2. kourt

    Apr 5, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    I say leave it alone. Its not like one hole is ruining the tournament. Who cares if people are making birdies there. The rest of the course is punishing enough. The trees you got to carry will continue to grow which will make cutting the corner even more difficult. After battling amen corner Its nice to have a few holes where the guys can play aggressive and make a big push for birdie and eagle. I mean 15 is fairly easy, sergio eagled it last year in the final round, and this year made 13!

  3. Don O

    Apr 5, 2018 at 12:41 am

    The “point” of lengthening the hole is to make it harder for the bombers. Well, it will just separate the shorter players even more. If DJ is using a GW and KJ is using a 8I, but then DJ is using a 9I and now KJ is now using a 6I. How hard is it to control a 6I onto a tight spot? It’s not how far but how accurate should make a difference. Set up the courses tighter, put more penalty on drivers over 3 hundred. Move bunkers to match the length. Bunkers at 285 are a joke. DJ will fly, the average pro will be hurt more. This time, Jack is wrong. Look at Erin Hills at 7800. It just took the shorter guys out of the equation. Put deep bunkers where they cut the corner. or add a stand of trees on 13. How well did Tiger-proofing the course work out? He did and can still win because he is still longer than Charlie Hoffman and Pat Perez.

  4. BD57

    Apr 4, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    Rather than simply “Lengthen it,” why not move the tee 10 -15 yards further to the let of where it is now (and, perhaps, add 10-15 yards)?

    I looked on Google Earth – it looks like they have the land available to make it work, separate from the land purchased from Augusta Country Club (with the ACC land, they should have land to go left & add length).

    Going left would put more stress on the tee shot, especially if they add 10-15 yards to the carry distance required to go over the top, without completely changing the nature of the hole.

  5. John Kerry

    Apr 4, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Do what some including Augusta is thinking/suggesting and that is change rhe ball. Get over your male ego and 400 yrd drives. You will make several golf courses because they can’t afford length. This prime example of the 13th hole of Augusta, was meant to have a drive and a 2nd shot the player had to decide…go or lay up…..NOT a wedge onto the green. You can’t keep lengthening courses…it has to stop and now is as good a time as any.

  6. David Owen

    Apr 4, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Leave it alone….lengthening it only makes it harder for the shorter hitters…the bombers won’t care

  7. Tom54

    Apr 4, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    I believe if they have purchased land for a new tee then it is a done deal. If they do make a new tee hopefully it can be adjusted to see how it plays. If 15-20 yds longer makes it still reachable then fine. As long as they have it where a well placed drive affords the chance to go for it in too then please always let it play that way. The back nine roars for eagles at 13&15 are what makes the Masters exciting. As long as they still keep them that way then the Masters will have not messed with perfection

  8. Dennis Clark

    Apr 4, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    When we talk about longer, we are actually doing it because of the athlete, not the equipment, right? The ball and club have not changed in a while now as Greg said. What has improved is the athlete and optimized launch conditions. In that case if they add 30/40 yards, should we change the hoop in b-ball to 11 feet?

    • Greg V

      Apr 5, 2018 at 9:12 am

      The problem with the distance and its effect on this hole goes back to the change in equipment from 1993 to 2003. It has taken from 2003 to now to recognize that there is a problem.

      I am happy that Fred Ridley has addressed the issue.

      They do one of two things – address the equipment or length of the holes to address the problem, or agree to play on what have become “executive length” courses.

  9. Man

    Apr 4, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Just narrow the angle on the right by raising the rough and make it almost a hack-out,
    and then shave the left side completely and slick it up by cutting away the rough completely so that any any errant balls to the left will spill the ball into the creek.
    Everybody knows there’s hardly any rough on the whole course.

  10. Sean

    Apr 4, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    Make it OB and longer – but get Ben Crenshaw to shape it in such a way that it retains its flavor.

  11. Greg V

    Apr 4, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Fred Ridley quoted Bobby Jones today. Jones said that the decision to go for the green in two on 13 should be a “momentous decision.” Ridley added that the decision these days is hardly momentous.

    You can expect a lengthening of 13 to start in about 2 weeks.

  12. Gumbo

    Apr 4, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Don’t touch it

  13. mark

    Apr 4, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Shorten it a little, and turn it into a Par 4, it’s the approach shot, and location of the pin, that will create the birdies. With today’s technology, and the strength (swing speed) of most players, it really is not a Par 5 hole. If you shorten the tee box, everyone can still get to the corner, and hit the green it 2. On most courses, to make a Par 5 difficult for everyone, you need to place hazards at the 310-340 yd landing area, then it becomes position, shot making, risk-reward, for all players, long and short.

    • Jeff

      Apr 4, 2018 at 3:05 pm

      Does Par matter? It’s a number, whoever shots the lowest number wins

      • golfbum

        Apr 4, 2018 at 3:37 pm

        I agree with this! Worse thing in golf is to compare your game to a arbitrary number on a scorecard. I play a course in the SF Bay Area that is a Robert Trent Jones design and is par 63. From the tips you use every club in your bag.

        At 13 it is not whether you make EAGLE or BIRDIE that wins the Masters, but whether you can make 3 or 4….but EAGLE or BIRDIE sounds better or perhaps in this case sounds worse.

        Now, if you wan to make longer? Then stretch it out so that no player can hit the green in two shots. Therefore, making the strategy for a third shot a more important decision. With that the 4th shot is where the crowd will really roar!

        Low score wins the Masters. Leave the course alone. Everything about the Masters is elegant: no player has ever said that Augusta National is too easy.

  14. Greg

    Apr 4, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    On the good side: “it needs to be longer to keep up with the modern equipment and golf ball.”

    You guys have been telling me for weeks there is no issues with the modern ball and equipment, but you just put it in print! That’s funny

  15. dr. freud

    Apr 4, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Azalea, she has a short hole… (ø)

  16. Hawkeye77

    Apr 4, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Of course, lengthen it and I’m sure they can figure out how to do that and preserve the integrity of the hole and still have reasonable risk/reward.

  17. Art Williams

    Apr 4, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    They bought the land so go ahead and lengthen it. This should bring it back to shot values of years ago for most of the field.

  18. Soonerslim

    Apr 4, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Leave it alone. It’s time that these club designers stop lengthening golf holes because of the inflated ball and technology. The 13th is an iconic risk/reward hole. Lengthening it will cause a lot more golfers to lay up and not take that risk for a potential eagle. This hole has always been very pivot-able in the Master’s winner outcome. This hole has wound up penalizing a lot more golfers than it has ever rewarded. Leave it alone!
    J

  19. Dennis clark

    Apr 4, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Just don’t make it a par 3…I Don’t want to see so much length added that it takes the exciting risk out of it.

  20. Bob Sarvis

    Apr 4, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Add 15-20 yards and lower the tee box which will make the trees on the left “play” taller. Adding length to the tee box will allow the hole to be lengthened or shortened daily depending on the conditions.

  21. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 4, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Lengthen it. The sharp dogleg was part of the original design, and it should come into play. The landing area for the distance freaks is conducive to taking the risk. Get the drives back into the layUP/go? area for more drama.

  22. Artie

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Add 20-30 yards so a longer, more adventuresome 2nd shot by adding 2 clubs off the uneven lie. But still make it play that most to go for it vs just a boring layup.

  23. Deacon Blues

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Now that they’ve bought the adjoining land from the Augusta Country Club, I think it’s obvious that they will move the tee back and make the 13th hole longer. They can also make the green smaller (while maintaining the difficulty of its contours), making it a more challenging target.

  24. AB

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    lower the tee box

  25. tom Horonzy

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Is everyone missing the most obvious change should be to make it a Par 4?
    Or a novel idea would be to play the tees as they are as a Par 5 Thursday and Friday but once the cut is determined slash it to a Par 4. Now that would show who has the donuts to play it for the championship under pressure.

    • Mike

      Apr 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm

      You don’t play a hole differently due to the par posted on the card….

    • Buzz

      Apr 4, 2018 at 2:04 pm

      EXACTLY!! Wouldnt be the only 500 yard par 4 on tour. Leave the damn ball and hole alone. Nicklaus was hitting his driver 300+ and could hit it high/low/left or right. So lets also assume he could FLY his 4-5 iron 200 and get it to stop. OR drastic idea… Make every hole a par 3 on the card and who ever shoots the lowest score after 4 rounds wins. Relation to par has always and will always be irrelevant in tournaments.

  26. Duke Keiser

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    As even the shorter hitters still have only a 5 iron or less to reach the green, Azalea is no longer the challenging hole it has been in the past. The purchase of the property from ACC should be seen as a clear indication that the decision has been made to lengthen the hole. I must say that I would not have been surprised to see #13 played as a 4 par this year, but perhaps tradition made that consideration a non-starter.

  27. Rob

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Penalties for going over the trees?!? This is Golf right? Not some drone? They bought the land so, it will be lengthened. When people are hitting 9, pw into that green it’s time to move the tee box back.

  28. Wayne

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    With the amount of power the Masters have this is my suggestion? They should make a deflighted ball to be used only at Augusta? This means everyone will use the same ball with the masters logo on it and this will let this coarse survive for years to come? With technology today the great golf coarses of the past are becoming obsolete due to this issue? The cost of golf keeps excalating due to the cost of property to build and the amount of money it cost to maintain our great golf courses? It’s time to make the game enjoyable and realistic to all who want to play the game.? This isn’t the first time this has been brought up but here’s another thought. With all factions of golf getting more expensive and jobs being lost, the only people who will be able to play this game will be the rich. So it’s time the golf industry make this drastic decision to keep this game alive and well into the future!!!

    • Mike

      Apr 4, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      Dude, what’s with all the question marks??? lol…. very well spoken but it’s “course” btw…

  29. Robert Mummery

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    When I took up golf, bunkers were raked with a hay rake which left surfaces corrugated, why are bunker rakes now designed to leave a flat surface?
    Secondly, why rather than increase length of holes, create deeper rough, so driving accuracy becomes a consideration?

  30. Tiemco

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    I would like to see the tee moved back and pushed to the left so that righties will have to hit a draw with the driver and lefty’s will not be able to fade it over the corner. The definition of a par five in my opinion is a hole that requires a long iron or higher into the green. With the length the pros have today this hole plays more like a par four.

    • Michael

      Apr 4, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      So my answer to this question in general would be, where are they going to move the tee box? If you have ever been there, you can see that there is nowhere else to go back. I’d say currently players to have to hit a draw especially if they want that good rollout, but there is not much of a penalty for missing one right. Pitch out and then have an easy wedge into the green.

  31. Greg V

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Why did ANGC buy the 10th hole at Augusta Country Club?

    Obviously, because they want to lengthen 13. It’s a done deal, all $20M of it.

    Should they? OF course they should. At about 540 or 550 it will restore the risk/reward of this iconic par 4.5.

  32. David Bloom

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Add the length as they have have some of the other holes in the past.

  33. sj

    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Make the banks slick again. Anything that spins or rolls off the green is always in the water. I’ve seen plenty of balls held up lately.

  34. kevin

    Apr 4, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Maybe leave the length alone and instead add some subtle “whoop-de whoops” or mounds where they are landing their drivers. That way if they choose to go over trees to a short iron 2nd shot they run high risk of a very awkward stance into green. I cant imagine an awkward stance would be very reassuring into that green. Or have rae’s creek feed a pond where they are landing driver in middle of fairway making it one of those split fairways that wont allow going over trees

  35. ogo

    Apr 4, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Azalea she is quite the short hole… 😮

    • Scott Freeman

      Apr 4, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      Option 4: Go back to counting strokes rather than scoring in relation to par.

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Opinion & Analysis

How to qualify for the U.S. Amateur (in-depth statistical analysis and tutorial)

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This is a follow-up of sorts to an article that I published on GolfWRX in May 2017: A Modern Blueprint to Breaking 80.  

With the U.S. Amateur concluding at iconic Pebble Beach last weekend, I thought of the many amateurs out there who would love to one day qualify for this prestigious event. Personally, I made it to the State Amateur level, but work and life got in the way and I never made it to the next step. For those who aspire or wonder, here’s an outline of what your game should look like if you want to qualify for the U.S. Amateur.

Scoring

To start with, your USGA Index needs to be 2.4 or lower to even attempt to qualify. If your course is rated 71.5/130*, the best 10 of your most recent 20 scores should average 74.3. This score will adjust slightly up if your course is rated more difficult, and slightly down if it’s rated less difficult. For the purposes of this article, I’m assuming the average course and slope rating above.

*Note: 71.5/130 is the average rating of courses played by single digit handicap golfers in the ShotByShot.com database of 340,000 rounds.

Your average scores by par type will be:

  • Par 3:  3.21
  • Par 4:  4.20
  • Par 5:  4.86

The Fastest and Easiest Way to Lower Your Scores

Every round is a mix of good shots, average shots and bad shots/errors. The challenge is to determine which piece of your game’s unique puzzle is your greatest weakness in order to target your improvement efforts on the highest impact area. If you track the simple good and bad outcomes listed below for a few rounds, your strengths and weaknesses will become apparent.

Tee Game or Driving 

Goals: Hit EIGHT fairways and limit your driving errors to ONE, with the majority being the less costly “No Shot errors” (more on this later).

Distance: I will ignore this and assume you’re maximizing distance as best you can without sacrificing accuracy.

Fairways: Hitting fairways is crucial, as we are all statistically significantly more accurate from the short grass.

Errors: Far more important than Fairways Hit, however, is the FREQUENCY and SEVERITY of misses. To help golfers understand the weaknesses in their game, my golf analysis program allows users to record and categorize the THREE types of Driving Errors: 

  1. No Shot: You have missed in a place from which you do not have a normal next shot and require some sort of advancement to get the ball back to normal play.
  2. Penalty: A 1-stroke penalty due to hazard or unplayable lie.
  3. Lost/OB: Stroke and distance penalty. 

Approach Shots 

Goals:  ELEVEN GIRs and ONE penalty/2nd             

Penalty/2nd:  This means either a penalty or a shot hit so poorly that you are left with yet another full approach shot from greater than 50 yards of the hole.

The chart below displays the typical array of Approach Shot opportunities from the fairway (75 percent fall in the 100 to 200-yard range). The 150 to 175-yard range tends to be the most frequent distance for golfers playing the appropriate distance golf course for their game.

Short Game (defined as shots from within 50 yards of the hole)

Chip/Pitch: If you miss 7 greens, you will have 6 green-side save opportunities. Your goals should be:

  • Percentage of shots to within 5 feet: 40 percent
  • Percentage of Saves: 47 percent (3)
  • Percentage of Errors (shots that miss the green):  6 percent, or approximately 1 in 17 attempts.

Sand: You should have 1 of these green-side save opportunities. Your goals: 

  • Percentage of shots to within 8 feet: 35 percent
  • Percentage Saves: 32 percent
  • Percentage of Errors (shots that miss the green): 13 percent, or approximately 1 in 8 attempts.

Putting: You need just over 31 putts.  Aim for:

  • 1-Putts: 6
  • 3-Putts: 1

The chart below displays the percentage of 1-Putts you will need to make by distance, as well as the typical array of first-putt opportunities by distance. Note that 62 percent of your first-putt opportunities will fall in the 4 to 20-foot range. Adjust your practice efforts accordingly!

Good luck, and please let me know if and when you are successful.

For a complete Strokes Gained Analysis of your game, log on to ShotByShot.com and sign up for a 1-round free trial.

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Here’s who should be the four U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s picks based on analytics

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After the PGA Championship, the U.S. Ryder Cup team solidified 8 of its 12 players on the team. Now, captain Jim Furyk will have to decide who the other 4 players will be to join the team. In this day and age of advanced data analytics, it is imperative for the U.S. team to utilize an analytical approach. The European team has used advanced analytics in recent Ryder Cups, and they now field one of the best European squads of all time. Any advantage that the Europeans have that the U.S. team can counter would behoove Furyk and his chances of being a winning Ryder Cup captain.

Normally, captains have sought out players that have played well right before the Ryder Cup. This is a sound strategy. My statistical research on the subject is that most players reach peak performance for about four events in a row. Then their performance inevitably dips to a degree before eventually they hit peak performance, again.

The golden rule is that 80 percent of a player’s earnings in a season come in about 20 percent of the events they play in. Thus, if a player earns $2 million and plays 25 events in a season there’s a good likelihood that he earned $1.6 million of that in just 5 events.

These trends show that picking a hot player is fairly important. However, the issue is that Furyk has to make 3 of the picks by September 3rd and the last pick by September 9th and the Ryder Cup starts on September 28th. Thus, it’s very plausible that a player who is picked because they are playing great golf may cool down a bit by the time the Ryder Cup is being played. Therefore, finding a player with a hot hand is not quite what it is cracked up to be. But, I would recommend staying away from players that are playing miserably. History has shown that a hot player that is selected is more likely to perform better at the Ryder Cup than the cold player that gets selected.

There are some simple statistical rules to follow for optimal picks:

  1. Seek out quality performers around the green as it helps most in the Foursome (alternate shot) and individual match play format.
  2. You want birdie makers and quality performers on each of the holes (par-3’s, par-4’s and par-5’s) for the Fourball (best score) format.
  3. Ryder Cup experience doesn’t mean anything if the player is a poor Ryder Cup performer.
  4. All things being equal, take the younger player.
  5. Lean towards the player who fits into both Fourball and Foursome formats over the slightly better player that only fits well into one format.

A good way to start to determine what picks you need is to understand your current team. Here are the rankings in key metrics for the top-8 players on the U.S. team (rankings based out of 205 players):

The top-8 players compile a good driving team that drives the ball effectively thru hitting the ball a long ways rather than being deadly accurate off the tee. One of the best attributes the top-8 has is that they are a very good Short Game team (median ranking of 40.5). They are also pretty good from the Red Zon (175-225 yards), but are better from the Yellow Zone (125-175 yards).

The top-8 has dominated par-4’s (median ranking of 11.5) and par-5’s (median ranking of 20) while being good on the par-3’s (median ranking of 44.5). They also make a lot of birdies (median ranking 27th).

It should also be noted that Brooks Koepka’s data could probably be thrown out since it was skewed by him coming off an injury and he is clearly a different and much improved player in recent months. Koepka has typically been one of the better putters on Tour and a pretty good Red Zone performer.

The potential issues I see is that they do not hit a lot of fairways and have some players with issues hitting shots from the rough which is a bad combination in the Foursome format. Also, Webb Simpson currently stands as their weakest link on the team as he has not played that well in recent months and they will likely need to figure out a way to work around him if his performance doesn’t improve between now and the Ryder Cup.

Here are the picks I would recommend making at this point:

Tiger Woods

This is clearly the easiest pick to make even though Tiger’s Ryder Cup record has not been exactly stellar. Forget about Tiger being arguably the greatest player of all time, his performance has clearly indicated that he deserves to be on this Ryder Cup team. Furthermore, he’s statistically a quality fit in either the Fourball or Foursome format. The only issue I see is that given his age and his back issues, it would be wise to use him in no more than 3 matches in the first two days and even that may be too much for him. But, I would love to see him paired in the Foursome format with a player who hits fairways and can play well from the rough for those drives that Tiger struggles with.

Tony Finau

Finau has had 8 top-10 finishes and 2 second place finishes this season. He’s a nice looking fit at the Ryder Cup because he’s a great fit in the Fourball format and a pretty good fit in the Foursome format. In fact, my simulations find that he and Tiger would be a good fit together in either format.

Bryson DeChambeau

Again, versatility and youth play a key role in his selection. You never quite know who is going to show up at the Ryder Cup and who may get injured. Thus, there’s always a need for a player that fits both formats and can play in ever match if needed. The simulations I’ve ran really like a Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau pairing.

Patrick Cantlay

This was a difficult choice between Cantlay, Mickelson and Zach Johnson. The pros for Mickelson is that he has played well in recent Ryder Cups and certainly has the experience. He’s also not a bad fit in the Foursome format and a really good fit in the Fourball format if paired with another birdie making machine that avoids bogeys and plays well on par-3’s (i.e. Koepka, Fowler and Tiger). Zach has been a quality Ryder Cup performer as well and is best suited for the Foursome format. However, he’s not such a bad fit in the Fourball format. He doesn’t hit it long, but he does make birdies (43rd in Adjusted Birdie Percentage).

From a pure numbers point of view, my simulations favor Cantlay. I wish he was better from the Red Zone and from the rough, but he’s still a quality candidate in both formats and has youth on his side. For sentimental reasons, I would pick Mickelson because the simulations such as him and Tiger in the Fourball format, and this will likely be the last time that the two can ever be paired together. The numbers don’t care about emotions, though. And that’s why Cantlay is the pick for now. It would just be wise to wait until September 9th to make the final pick.

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Opinion & Analysis

Prospective NCAA Golfers, are you ready for September 1? Here’s what you should be doing

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In June, I reported changes to the NCAA rules, including new legislation that prevented college coaches from contacting a prospective student athlete before September 1 of their Junior Year. With September 1 just around the corner, the question is: are you ready?

If not, don’t worry. As always, I am here to help you understand the college landscape and find the best opportunity to pursue your passion in college! Here’s what you need to know:

Be Prepared

Over time, you are going to hear from some coaches. It is important that students are prepared to talk to coaches. Before speaking to a coach, it is important to do research about their institution; what are the grades required for admissions? How many players are on the team? How much of the student population lives on campus? Know the basics before your conversation.

It is also important that you are ready to answer a couple questions. Coaches are very likely to ask, why are you interested in my school? Tell me about your grades or academic interests? Or, tell me about your golf game? Be honest and remember a passion for the game goes a long way.

Coaches are also likely to ask if you have any questions. Having a couple questions written down is important. If you are not sure what to ask, here are some questions I recommend:

  • What is your coaching philosophy?
  • What is your favourite part of coaching?
  • What type of student best fits in at your university?
  • What type of athlete best fits in?
  • What are the goals for the golf program?
  • How do you determine who play play in your top 5 at tournaments?
  • Do you ever take more than 5 players to a tournament?
  • What access does the team have to golf courses?
  • Is it expected to have your own vehicle?
  • Do you do any technical swing work with the players?
  • What is your greatest strength as a coach?
  • Do you offer academic support, such as tutors for students?
  • What percent of teachers have terminal degrees?
  • How does my major (X) impact golf? Can I do it and golf?
  • Do you support graduates in getting jobs?
  • What success do people have getting jobs?
  • What success do people have getting into grad schools?

Know the Numbers

With only a couple weeks before September 1, I would recommend you take time and see where you (or your son and daughter) stands on websites such as Junior Golf Scoreboard or Rolex AJGA Rankings. Now that you know the number, consider in several previous articles I have presented how rankings related to college signings. My analysis of the numbers demonstrates that, for boys, the average Division I player is ranked approximately 300 in Junior Golf Scoreboard in their class with a scoring differential of about .5. The average Division II player is ranked about 550 in their class. For girls, it appears that ranking is less important, but there is a strong relationship between scoring differential and college signings. Girls that sign at schools within the top 50 have scoring differentials of at least -3 or better, while the average for any Division I player is approximately 5.

Keep in mind that when you search on Junior Golf Scoreboard for yourself, it will show your ranking overall. This number is going to be much lower for your ranking in your class. Without a subscription, you will not be able to find your exact rank, but I would generally say you can cut the number by about 50 percent to give yourself a fair gauge. So if you are 3750 overall, you are likely close to 1875 in your class.

For many members of the junior class reading this article, they may see that their ranking might be significantly higher than these numbers. Don’t panic; the rankings are over a 1-year period. After a year, old scores drop off and new scores can be counted. Also, on Junior Golf Scoreboard, your worst 25 percent of rounds are not counted. So, you have time to continue to work on your game, improve your ranking and get the attention of coaches!

Do your research

Now that you have an idea about your ranking, start researching. Where did players of similar rank sign last year? What is the rank of that school? What schools are ranked about the same? Answering these questions will require some time and two resources; Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golfstat.com. To find out where similar players signed from last year, go to njgs.com, then under the tab “rankings & honors,” the bottom option is college signees. Click there, and then you can order the signees based on class rank by clicking on “scoreboard class ranking as of signing date.” You will notice that last year, players ranked about 1800 in their class signed at such schools as Kenyon, Glenville, Southern Nazarene, Central Alabama Community college and Allegany college. Pretty good considering these schools have produced a president of the United States (Hayes, Kenyon), and a 5-time Major Championship participant (Nathan Smith, Allegany).

Now that you have a list of schools where similar students have signed, look up the golf rankings of these schools on golfstat.com. The rankings of schools are under the “rankings” tab on the home page and segmented by NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA.

First find out where the school is ranked and then consider schools ranked 5-10 spots ahead and behind that school. Are any of these of interest? Any where you think might sound interesting? Take time and build a list, then send an email to those schools introducing yourself, along with a swing video.

Have a Plan

Regardless if you are a Junior in High School or a Senior in High School, come September 1, remember that there is still time and regardless of what people say, coaches are always looking. For High School Juniors, it is likely that next summer will have a critical impact on your opportunities in college golf, so what can you do over the next 9 months? Where are you missing out on the most shots? Take time, talk to people and develop a plan to give yourself the best chance to succeed in the future. And then, put in the time!

For Seniors, although many might be in your ear saying it’s too late, don’t listen to them. You still have some time. Take a careful look at how you can use the next 2-3 months to improve and prepare for events such as the AJGA Senior Showcase in Las Vegas. Remember that data suggests that up to one-third of players sign in the late period (for all levels) and up to 60 percent of players who compete in the AJGA Senior Showcase in December in Las Vegas, go on to get offers.

As always, if you have any feedback on this article or a story idea, please feel free to reach out to me! I always love hearing from people and helping them connect with schools that meet their academic, athletic, social and financial needs! Best of luck to you, or your son/daughter.

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