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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 RBC Heritage



It’s back to the grind this week as the 2018 RBC Heritage gets underway. Harbour Town Golf Links will host the event once more, and unlike last week at Augusta National, it’s a short course measuring less than 7,100 yards.

Harbour Town demands accuracy and good ball striking, so players will often not feel the need to hit driver off the tee this week. Instead, they will prioritize finding the fairway and rely on their iron play and putting to score. As always, expect wind to be a factor at Harbour Town. Last year, Wesley Bryan shot a final-round 67 to take the title by one stroke over Luke Donald.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Dustin Johnson 17/2
  • Paul Casey 14/1
  • Matt Kuchar 20/1
  • Cameron Smith 28/1
  • Marc Leishman 28/1
  • Webb Simpson 33/1
  • Brian Harman 33/1

In his eight starts this year, Adam Hadwin (33/1, DK Price $8,100), has finished in the top-25 five times. Four of those top-25 finishes have come in his last four events. The Canadian is hitting the ball as well as ever at the moment, and despite the fact that Augusta National is far from his ideal course, his solid play still allowed him to perform well last week.

Hadwin’s excellent play at the moment is down to many areas of his game being in great shape, particularly his approach play. Over his last 12 rounds, Hadwin ranks first in Strokes Gained Approaching the Green and first in Strokes Gained Tee to Green. He ranks second in Ball Striking and third in Strokes Gained Around the Green over the same period.

It’s a course that should suit Hadwin, and his results at Harbour Town have been trending in the right direction. In 2016, he finished T-30, and he followed that last year with a T-22. If he can regain the touch with the putter that he displayed last year when he finished 18th for Strokes Gained-Putting, then it could be the week where it all finally clicks for the Canadian.

My second pick for the week also performed well at the Masters last week. Kevin Kisner (35/1, DK Price $8,700) had been struggling for form when he turned up to Augusta National, having missed three of his last four cuts. But a T-28 at a course that you wouldn’t think would suit the South Carolina native may just have given him a much-needed boost of confidence.

Unlike Augusta, Harbour Town is the ideal course for Kisner. His penetrating ball flight, combined with his accuracy and solid short game, is perfect for tricky tests such as this one. It’s no surprise that he’s played the course so well in the past. In his four starts here, he’s made the cut four times and posted a second-place finish as well as a T-11 last year. It’s difficult to imagine Kisner not playing well on a golf course such as this, and with last week’s good play fresh on his mind another good showing may well be in the offing.

Just like Hadwin and Kisner, Zach Johnson (50/1, DK Price $7,900) has the ideal game for Harbour Town. Lately, Johnson has struggled here, but the Masters champion looked in good shape last week. Just like Hadwin, he has been playing some beautiful golf as of late. The American is nine for nine in cuts made this season and has finished in the top-25 in six of those events.

Johnson’s game is looking solid across the board lately. In his last 24 rounds, Johnson sits fifth in Strokes Gained Approaching the Green, 18th in Ball Striking, 25th in Strokes Gained Around the Green and 11th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green. Johnson also possesses the ability to play well in the wind, which we saw when he won the Claret Jug back in 2015 at St. Andrews. He’s going in under the radar this week despite his excellent play as of late, and there is a sense that Johnson is due to win again soon. It may be this week that he adds another jacket to his collection.

Making up my foursome of picks this week is Brandt Snedeker (66/1, DK Price $7,400). Snedeker would have been very disappointed not to have made the field for the Masters last week, but he has the game to excel around Harbour Town. He has backed this up with his performance here down the years. The Nashville native has made five of six cuts in his last six outings and last year he finished T-11th.

Snedeker’s lack of length won’t be an issue this week, and his ability to score with the flat-stick is a desirable quality. This year has been no different for him with the putter in hand. In his last 24 rounds, Snedeker sits 20th in Strokes Gained Putting. As solid and reliable as ever. He also has the ability to play his best golf in the wind, and should it blow this week then it may even help him. A combination of his pedigree on the course and his undervalued price means Snedeker is the last man to make my line up for this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Adam Hadwin 33/1, DK Price $8,100
  • Kevin Kisner 35/1, DK Price $8,700
  • Zach Johnson 50/1, DK Price $7,900
  • Brandt Snedeker 66/1, DK Price $7,400
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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag



  1. Patrrick Day

    Apr 11, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    Looks like Adam Hadwin is out for RBC according to Draft Kings

  2. ogo

    Apr 10, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    Even Flow or Evenflo ??!!

  3. Man

    Apr 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    One of the best courses on Tour. Takes out the bombers and brings in the accurate hitters, the course managers. More courses like this are needed on Tour

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Gary Player joins our 19th Hole podcast, talks past and future of golf



Hall-of-Famer and career Grand Slam winner Gary Player joins host Michael Williams for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf tournament and Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri. Player talks about the past and future of the game, including his take on everything from reigning in the golf ball and golf courses, to advocating for more testing for performance enhancing drugs on the Tour. Steve Friedlander of Big Cedar Lodge also appears.

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

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Opinion & Analysis

Let’s Retire Old Man Par: A Modest Proposal



In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical essay entitled “A modest proposal,” in which he suggested that the Irish eat their own children. As might be expected, the piece drew a great deal of discussion and controversy. He was of course not serious, but simply attempting to make a point. As you will read this piece contains “A Modest Proposal” as well, but it is not intended to be satirical. I am for the record dead serious.

The golf industry is wringing its hands, trying to find a way to bring new players into the game, while at the same time keeping those that are in the game from leaving. They have initiated any number of programs designed for this purpose. How successful have they been? I would venture that they have barely moved the needle.

Barriers to the game

What we do know is that today there are three major barriers that confront the industry. They are first, the time required to play the game; second the costs associated with playing the game; and third the difficulty of the game.

There are among those adults that start the game, three distinct different groups:

  1. Those who would like to start playing golf but for any number of reasons decided not to take up the game.
  2. Those who once played more frequently but have reduced the number of rounds that they play.
  3. Those who started to play the game but then after a short period decided to leave it.

Those who leave the game

Those in the golf industry, the hand-wringers, have developed any number of programs to bring new players to the game. I would ask the question, “What is the point, when almost an equal number of players that start playing the game each year, decide to give it up within a span of a few months.

Does it make any sense to continue to put water into a bucket when there is a hole in the bottom? Of course not, but that is effectively what is being done. The first question to be ask, why do these new players quit the playing after a short time? In my opinion, the number No. 1 reason is the method of scoring being used.

Were an exit poll to be conducted asking these people why they quit playing, I seriously doubt they would answer truthfully. Who would want to admit that they were discouraged by their inability to succeed at any endeavor? The two answers that would be given the most often would be 1) that golf is too expensive to play; or 2) that they simply didn’t have time.  In this case both answers serve to preserve the individual’s dignity. And who could blame them?

The concept of par

Why did these individuals find the game difficult? The short answer is that while golf is a hard game to learn, there  is a more compelling reason.  I would venture, that the underlying reason they quit the game is that it ceased to be fun because of how they viewed their performance. And for one central reason… the concept of par. The idea that an amateur golfer, especially a beginner, should measure their level of success against an imaginary set of numbers that represents what an expert player would score on each hole is on the surface ridiculous.

You might imagine a beginning player scoring an eight on a par-four hole after hitting six good shots and then two putting for an eight. In the context of their ability, they should be ecstatic — but of course they are not (because as their playing partner reminds them) they were four-over par on that hole. The time has come for Old Man Par to retire. And retire permanently. He is killing the game.

Perceived failure

In another scenario, the beginning player scores sixty for nine holes, which is an excellent score given the short amount of time they might have spent playing the game. And yet their nine-hole score was 24-over par. How would that make you feel? Would you be encouraged or discouraged? You might imagine yourself back in school and regardless of the amount of work that you put into a given class you always receive an “F.” At some point, would you give up?

Why should every golfer be judged by the same standard when there is such inequality in their ability? The equivalent would be placing a high school freshman in a graduate-level college course, expecting that they could perform at the same level as the other graduate students. The disparity in knowledge, based on age and experience, is precisely the reason why there are different grades in school. The same disparity exists among golfers. In this case, the difference being the ability to perform on the golf course as opposed to the classroom.

What about the second group of players that now plays less than they did in the past? Could it be that they are no longer having fun playing the game?And then there is the third group, those that consider playing the game but abandon it for another sport. Could it be that they are intimidated by the scoring system, knowing that as a beginner par is an absolute impossibility?

Old man par 

The legendary Bobby Jones was the first to coin, perhaps with the help of his friend O.B. Keillor, the phrase “Old Man Par.” Jones was, of course, the greatest amateur to have ever played the game. He won the Grand Slam in 1930, retiring then at the age of 28.

The time has come to retire “Old Man Par” and devise a new system for measuring a golfer’s progress in the game. I know that those in the USGA. would reject the concept immediately for fear of, and here is a $10 word used primarily by attorneys, “bifurcate” the game. What that word essentially means in this context in having more than one standard. The USGA is responsible for preserving the nature of the game, but at the same time it should be equally concerned with preserving the future of the game.

Personal par

What I would suggest is a system based on the principle of what might be termed “personal par.” This was essentially the system that was used to groom a young Tiger Woods. As a young child, he was not capable of reaching the longer holes in regulation, making par a virtual impossibility. Consequently, his coach wisely devised a system in which par was adjusted upward based on his ability at a given point in time. This served to keep the young child feeling good about his performance and subsequent progress.

This is the type of system that needs to be devised for the health of the game. The system would begin at a nine-hole level using a par of thirty-six as a basis. The actual numbers are not as important as the basic concept. There would be within the nine-hole and the eighteen-hole groups five different levels as follows with assigned par for each hole and eighteen holes roughly equal with the player’s ability.

As players improved, they would graduate from one level to another based on their total score. The handicap system would work in similar fashion as it does now with a single modification. The strokes give from one player to another would depend on the level in which they fall and the par assigned to that level.

The personal par handicap system would not be as exacting as it is presently used, but it would be sufficient to allow players to be reasonable competitive without any significant sacrifice. There would then be two scoring systems then, allowing players to choose which one they wanted to use. Or a recommendation might be given that until they reach a given scoring threshold that they use the personal par scoring system.

There would, of course, be the usual concern with something new being injected into the system, but the proposed change would be no greater than when the system of equitable scoring was introduced or when courses were first assigned a course rating number.

A few years ago, when life-long teacher and educator Dr. Gary Wiren was inducted into the Golf Teacher’s Hall of Fame, he wanted to pass along a single piece of advice to those teachers in the room. “Gentleman,” he started and then paused for emphasis. “We must find a way to make the game more fun for our students.”

I’m in full agreement with Dr. Wiren. The question is, “What is the best way to accomplish that goal?” I believe that that the first step in that direction is to change the scoring system so that golfers experience more satisfaction and accomplishment. That is what makes learning fun.

And so, I would have you consider “The Modest Proposal” that I have put forward. And rather than attempting to find reasons why a revised scoring system couldn’t never work, for the benefit of the game, look for the same number of reason why it could work. The time has come for Old Man Par, as we know him, to retire. He has served us well, but he has become an anarchism. He is as obsolete as the horse and buggy. Let’s hand him his gold watch and let him enjoy his golden years in peace.

And at the same time, let’s welcome the “new kid on the block” who will pave the way for the next generation of golfers pioneering a scoring system that promises to make the game more “fun.”

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TG2: What’s the most annoying breach of golf etiquette?



What’s the one breach of golf etiquette that gets under your skin more than anything else? Equipment expert Brian Knudson and GolfWRX Editor Andrew Tursky discuss what drives them crazy. Also, Knudson talks about his first round with new irons and a new shaft in his driver.

Follow @tg2wrx on Instagram to enter the Bettinardi inovai 5.0 center-shaft putter giveaway.

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

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19th Hole