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Is competitive golf for you?

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Many recreational golfers often wonder if they should dip their toes into the waters of competitive golf. This article will give you an understanding of what it’s like to play under the pressure cooker of a stroke-play event, and offer some ideas on how to pursue an amateur career.

Make no mistake, competitive golf is an entirely different animal from a Sunday morning round with your buddies. There are no gimmies, X’s on the scorecard for bad holes, and certainly no breakfast balls. Every shot carries more significance, and in the back of your head you know that one errant swing could cost you any chances of success.

That being said, it can be extremely fun! Starting an amateur career can open up a whole new dimension of golf for you, and give you an intense focus on what you can do to improve your game.

My Experience

I grew up playing high school golf, junior events, and a bit in college. I have lost count at this point, but I have played well over 100 rounds of tournament golf. Competition was always a mixed bag for me. I had the exhilaration of success, and the awful sinking feeling when I blew my chances of making the cut at the most important tournaments. I was never a standout player, but was good enough to stick around.

After college I took about a 10-year hiatus from tournaments and a couple of years ago I decided it was time to get back into it. I’d like to take you through the process I’ve gone through from finding events, setting goals, and dealing with just how different it is to play golf in a real competitive environment.

Setting Goals

In 2014, my goal was to get my handicap below 1.4 so I could compete in the U.S. Open Qualifier the following year. I had started the year around a 4, so I had some serious work to do. Because my goal was extremely specific, and not completely far-fetched, it helped me focus on what I needed to do to get there.

I took a hard look at my game, and decided that in order to reach that level I needed to put some serious work into both my short game and fixing errant tee shots. More importantly, I needed to play more golf. There is no substitute for improving at this game other than live action.

Sixty rounds later and some serious time spent practicing on the range and in my backyard, I ended the year at a 0.7 handicap. It might not sound like a lot, but moving from a 4 handicap down to almost scratch is a huge jump. There were many bumps along the road, but I kept my focus on the goal and I was happy to get there.

Having the goal of playing in the U.S. Open qualifier is what kept me practicing hard all year, and I strongly believe that it was the main factor for my huge drop in scoring. If you are looking to get into competition I would recommend setting some goals for yourself based on the level of golf you’re looking to compete at. Not all tournaments have such a low handicap requirement, so it’s best to find one that represents a reasonable level that you can achieve. Don’t go thinking you can drop from a 13 handicap down to 2 in six months though!

The Tale of Two Tournaments

Now that I had spent 2014 getting my game in gear, I had registered for the 2015 U.S. Open Qualifier and another amateur event that I found through our local golf association. After a brutal winter that ended late, I only had a few weeks to prepare for the qualifier, which was in May. I continued my work on the range, and tried to play as much as possible leading up to the tournament, and I felt my game was as sharp as it could be.

Since this was my first competitive round in more than 10 years, I tried to be reasonable with my expectations, and I urge you to do the same if you are just starting out. You never really know how your game is going to react in a tournament situation. I told myself that if I broke 80 at the qualifier I would be happy with myself. If I’m being completely honest, all I really wanted to do was not make a fool of myself and get banned from ever trying to qualify again by the USGA!

The day of the tournament I was pretty nervous. I showed up to Bethpage State Park a few hours early, which was probably a huge mistake. After walking around the practice green and the range I could see that the field was a mixture of college players and seasoned pros.

What am I doing here?

My warm-up session was a bit terrifying to be honest with you. After going through my normal routine for about 20 minutes, all of a sudden I started shanking 8-irons. It was like a scene out of Tin Cup. I looked back at my friend who was caddying for me that day, and we both gave each other a look that clearly said, “uh oh.”

After watching player after player bomb 300-yard drives off the tee of the intimidating 450-yard opening hole, I was in full freak-out mode. I was about a 9 out of 10 on the nervous meter.

My first tee shot was horrific, a pathetic duck hook that landed in the worst part of the golf course. Luckily a marshal was able to find my ball in about 2 feet of rough. I pitched out, and somehow managed to make a bogey.

Then something funny happened. All of the nerves went away, and my routine took over. I went on to have a great round. Despite some shaky putting and a double on No. 18, I shot a 76 in difficult conditions. I ended up 63rd out of roughly 120 players. I had finished ahead of some great golfers, and felt pretty good about myself.

I had achieved my goal, and all of the preparation before the tournament had paid off.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Here’s the thing about competition, and golf in general really: It has a way of humbling you pretty quickly if you get a little too conceited.

My next tournament was a qualifier for a pretty important local amateur event. I knew that I had to shoot roughly 5- or 6-over in order to make the cut, so there was a very specific number in my head beforehand. I had never played the course, but it was only 6,100 yards, and I assumed that it would be no problem to overpower it and make the cut.

Expectations are a funny thing in golf. At the U.S. Open Qualifier I knew I didn’t have a realistic chance of qualifying, and I really had nothing to lose. However, in this tournament I was fully expecting to make the cut.

When you play in a tournament all of your deepest fears as a golfer are exposed. Shots that you aren’t completely confident over all of sudden are magnified 100 times more than a normal round. On the third hole I was faced with a 30-yard bunker shot, which is by far and away the shot that terrifies me the most as a golfer. There was water over the back of the green, and all I could think about was not blading it into the drink.

Well that is exactly what I did, and I made a triple bogey.

It was completely embarrassing because my playing partners were all in line to make routine pars, and they had to wait for me to clean up my mess. There was a terrible sinking feeling walking off that green at 4-over par after only three holes. All of my momentum was completely gone, and the rest of the round was a blur of bogeys, self-doubt and embarrassment. I ended up shooting an 85, and was not even close to the cut line.

At the scorer’s table I couldn’t help but laugh at myself for the way I had felt before the round, and what transgressed on the course. It was only my second tournament back into competitive play, and I realized that I had gotten way ahead of myself. Lesson learned.

It’s a Mixed Bag

So what can you learn from my experience? Well, a few things hopefully. If you are interested in pursuing an amateur career in tournament golf you need to be prepared, and I mean that in a few ways.

  • Planning: Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to select the tournaments you want to play in; it could be as much as a year in advance in some cases.
  • Preparation: If you are serious about success, your game needs to be ready. Don’t expect to show up to a tournament without having played or practiced much and perform well. Set specific goals that are reasonable and measurable.
  • Expectations: Your mind needs to be ready. Tournament golf is nothing like a normal round. There are no safety nets, and if this is a new experience, you need to expect the unexpected. Anything can happen out there, and it’s OK!

What Tournaments Can You Play In?

The first thing you have to do is find actual tournaments to play in. The best place to start is your local golf associations. For example, in the New York Metro area we have the MGA, Long Island Golf Association, and New Jersey Golf Association. They all run a bunch of tournaments for golfers at various levels.

There are also some national resources where you can find events like the Golf Channel Amateur Tour. Amateurgolf.com is also a fantastic resource because it has a searchable database of tournaments.

Each event will have registration guidelines such as age and handicap level. My advice is to pick two or three events on the calendar that you think you want to play in. It’s best to start off slowly if competitive golf is new for you.

Competition can be extremely fun and rewarding. It also can be terrifying and embarrassing. Everyone who has ever competed at any level can attest to this. Dealing with the highs and the lows is part of the deal, but there is no substitute for experience. The more tournaments you play, the better you will be at handling the pressure. Start off slowly, and try to have fun with it.

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Jon is the author of the bestselling book, "101 Mistakes All Golfers Make (and how to fix them)". He is the owner of Practical Golf, a site dedicated to being an honest resource for golfers of all levels looking to improve their games. His advice is written through a player’s perspective, and he is passionate about coaching golfers in their quest to lower their scores and enjoy the game more. Overall, Jon believes golf is a difficult game, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated one. You can find him on Twitter @practicalgolf, where he is happy to chat about golf with anyone.

52 Comments

52 Comments

  1. mizuno29

    Feb 24, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Excellent article!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. John (ChipNRun)

    Feb 23, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Well written article. “Facts” are all there and the story flows well too.

    The article brought back lessons of summer past, when I played in the local amateur circuit tournaments for the first time. The point about “all of your deepest fears as a golfer are exposed” is all too true. In half the rounds I had a blow-up hole (my deepest fear) where I mishit a shot… overcorrected.. and mishit again… the longest walk in golf is going up to green to try and sink a 3-foot putt to salvage a 10.

    For those entering competitive golf, chalk up the first season to just learning how to play in tournament conditions. There’s a lot of mental trash that bothers you in year one – it goes away. One thing: ask the course marshal pre-round about any unusual local rules or conditions, and how to handle them. I got several bits of bad rules advice from am circuit veterans (it ended up costing me strokes when I could have gotten relief). Make sure you review the rules of golf before you enter the tournaments.

    The good thing is, I got to play some fairly big name courses, and post my own score. The problem with scrambles is you get to play top courses, but you don’t get your OWN score. One such course was Glen Echo CC here in St. Louis. Build by Old Tom Morris protege Jim Foulis, it hosted the only Olympics golf tournament back in 1904. In the championship match, Canadian star George Lyon defeated defending US Amateur champ Chandler Egan 3-and-2. No. 15 tee has a plaque commemorating this fateful hole, in which Egan pulled his tee shot into the lake and pretty much lost the match. (Small victories: I put my drive into the fairway).

  3. Jp

    Feb 23, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Great article. I love competing now. It’s a great feeling and motivator to overcome the mental as well as physical. Great journey. I’m a 3 now and if I get down to a 1 I’ll go from winning occasionally to winning a lot in the local matches. Can’t wait !

  4. gary

    Feb 22, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Playing tournament golf will improve your course management and the way you putt. When playing with your buddies it is just hit driver and get the putt to the hole. Who wants to hear “nice putt Alice” Tournament golf is a different animal. Every shot counts. Every shot needs 100% total commitment. Problem is everyone has a comfort zone and the guy that shot 66 couldn’t handle the round of his life. My comfort zone is even so if I shoot -2 on the front pretty much guarantee you I’ll find a way to shoot 2 over on the back. If I’m +3 after nine I’ll find a way back to even par. Golf is a funny game. Tournament golf is a serious game.

  5. Scott

    Feb 18, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Another fun read on trying to play tournament golf is:
    Paper Tiger: An Obsessed Golfer’s Quest to Play with the Pros
    Book by Tom Coyne

  6. viking62

    Feb 18, 2016 at 8:31 am

    I can relate a little bit with respect to expectations. I took up the game late in life and in my mid 40s decided to try tourneys – my first tournament (Ont Public Player) but the field was flighted so I was in the B group – I had no expectations – didn’t really even know the rules – made the cut and finished 7th – I was thrilled.

    The next year my handicap improved and I was in the A flight – I looked at the handicaps and figured I was the worst player there so figured I’d never make the cut – I finished 4th – actually had a chance to win but tripled the 17th.

    The next year brimming with confidence I qualified for the Ontario Mid Am – went there expecting to do well – got there and immediately felt inadequate – was instantly horrible – hooked first drive 75 yards left – played a provisional when it was red staked and was forced to play my provish – double, followed by a triple and I felt like an ass.

    I’ve honestly never hit the ball as well as I did leading up to that tourney accept when playing alone or with close friends. Expectations seem to have overwhelmed me.

  7. Ron

    Feb 18, 2016 at 12:40 am

    Jon, Thanks for telling your tournament experience – and to the rest of you who also added your stories. Here’s mine: I played young (junior golf, HS, college) without ever being particularly good or competitive. After a hiatus from golf for well over three decades as real life took over, I started playing recreationally again. After retiring I started playing a lot, my index dropped to the low-to-mid single digits, so at 72 decided to enter our county senior am tournament. I knew I couldn’t win, of course, I was in grad school when some of these guys were born – and I hadn’t played in an actual tournament since my senior year in college. But it gave me a great excuse to work on my game with some purpose. I shot 75 in round one – the same score I shot on the final day of that intercollegiate championship fifty years earlier. So I told my kid my half-century tournament average was 75. In what other sport is something like that even possible?

  8. Matt

    Feb 17, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Jon,

    Really enjoyed the article. Can relate to the grind from a 4 to a scratch. Even after getting to around a .4 handicap, it was very difficult to stay at that level in college with less time to play. My hope is to play enough throughout my twenties to avoid that drop to a mid level handicap.

    Our company is looking to keep players from having that 10 year lull you had. That lull certainly makes it difficult to stay sharp and people in their twenties often miss out on competition due to time or cost. You mentioned the state association and Golf Channel Am Tour as great outlets for competitive rounds which I totally agree with. For those 18-34 year old readers, they should also consider our Nextgengolf City Tour events for younger players across the country. If this was around when you were finishing your college days, you would have been a great fit to compete while still balancing your busy everyday life with kids and a job. Hope this helps supplement your article with some other ways golfers can stay sharp and have fun!

    – Matt

    • Jon Sherman

      Feb 18, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks for chiming in Matt. I absolutely would have loved to play in these events when I was younger! That’s really a great idea for that age group because the competitive juices are still flowing pretty strongly, it’s just hard to find an outlet for them sometimes with golf.

  9. ken

    Feb 17, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    LOL…..our tour is flighted. So the expectation that the other people in my group have done the same thing or worse, is highly likely.
    I find the ball and hit it again. What are ya gonna do? Stress? Its a GAME..I have played in a few “open” tournaments where the USGA index is used to come to a Net Score. In those events, i have found there are lots of great guys. And of course there are guys that are “Living the dream”. These guys tens to act like guys like me aren’t worthy of the same turfgrass as they.
    That is until they realize i play just as fast or faster than they. One thing I have noticed about playing against low handicappers that are grinders and real serious is if I am waiting on them to hit their next shot….It bugs the crap out of them…Worse yet…..Hit it inside of them from the fairway or a par three……LOL…makes ’em NUTS

  10. James

    Feb 17, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Great article Jon. You’ve motivated me to get my butt into gear to shave 3.8 off my handicap to qualify for my club’s major tourney each year. Coming from athletics background I can add that nerves are cruel mistress that can strike you down and ruin years of prep for an event. Ask any Olympic sprinter you train for four years and have one crack at getting it right…..at least in golf we have the next shot!

  11. John

    Feb 17, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Another thing to remember that will definitely help…THE OTHER GUYS DON’T CARE! It used to really affect me when I would hit a bad shot and do something dumb because I thought everyone else was thinking about it as much as I was. I finally realized that many of the guys I played with hit their share of bad shots, and while I might have felt a bit sorry for them for a split second, I was focused on my own game and didn’t really give them a second thought, and I’m sure they did the same thing when I hit a bad shot. That took a lot of the pressure off and really helped my game.
    Great article!

  12. MIKAH

    Feb 17, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    You wasted so much time getting to scratch. Everyone on WRX knows is that all you need to do to get to scratch is buy a set of blades! DUH!!

  13. Luis

    Feb 17, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Jon

    Can you provide a sense of how much you played/practiced in 2014 to get yourself ready? 2-3 games a week? practice 5 days a week? what about conditioning, how were you able to squeeze that in?

    thank you – great post!

    Luis

    Luis

    • Jon Sherman

      Feb 18, 2016 at 9:13 am

      I tried to get about 2-3 solid practice sessions in a week. A lot of that was concentrated on honing in my wedge distances, and improving my putting. My game inside 100 yards was one of my weak links. On top of that I would say I averaged about 2 rounds a week for a 6 month period. Some weeks I was able to play and practice more, and others less. It’s obviously hard to squeeze golf in with family and work obligations. I will say I have an amazing wife who is extremely supportive!!!

  14. M-Herd4

    Feb 17, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Great article Jon! I can completely relate to overwhelming nerves. I played in a few tournaments on my highschool team and shot a 108 in the last one I played. Took a 14 on the 2nd hole of the day! I’m 46 now and played in a NY State Mid-Am qualifier a few years ago and scraped it around all day for a 92. I love the thought of playing competitively but my nerves take over to the point where I completely lose my focus and thought process. This game can mentally scar you for sure. I love the game though and maybe some day I’ll find the courage again to try my hand at some competition.

  15. OH

    Feb 17, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Great article! I’ve been playing on the GC Am Tour for a couple years and love playing competitive golf. I’ll never qualify for the US Open but it’s still fun to get out there and compete. There are a lot of great options available for amateurs today at some incredible courses around the country. I think the GCAT is a solid option for a broad range of handicaps to “dip their toe” into competitive golf. Just remember, though, you aren’t playing for a paycheck so keep the ego in check and have fun. I’ve seen way too many guys get all worked up like they are playing a Monday qualifier for the Open.

  16. Rob

    Feb 17, 2016 at 10:01 am

    I’m don’t want to sound demeaning, as I play a lot of amateur tournaments at both the state and national lever, but why would you spend $150 to sign up for US OPEN local qualifying with the goal to only break 80? Seems like a bit of a waste of money. Or were your goal really to qualify?

    • Jon Sherman

      Feb 17, 2016 at 10:23 am

      Overall it was something to motivate me to improve my game. I always wanted to play in a U.S. Open qualifier. Was I capable of actually making it out of that first round? Absolutely. I actually hit 14 greens that day, and anyone who was at -1 got in the playoff for what I believe was 8 spots. So in an alternate universe where I was putting well that day I certainly had a shot (easier said than done). That being said, I tried to be reasonable with myself. If I went in there thinking I was going to qualify I don’t think I would have played as well. In the future I am just going to be playing in local events, and probably won’t play many USGA tournaments.

    • Nick

      Feb 17, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      These qualifiers are often at nice golf courses and they allow a practice round. Heck, that’s a bargain for two rounds at most of the qualifying sites in my state tournaments. He shot 76 in a U.S. open qualifier, that’s more than commendable considering his time away from tournament play.

    • ken

      Feb 17, 2016 at 7:30 pm

      I know……The type of tournaments Jon is playing are under conditions as tough as they can get( unless it is a USGA event) for Amateur golfers.
      I think going out and breaking 80 on a relatively difficult course while playing among golfers that can shoot lo 70’s or even high 60’s is good experience.
      If not to win, but to prove to one’s self they can do it.

    • Scott

      Feb 18, 2016 at 10:46 am

      I have to agree with the responses indicating that it is $150 well spent. No one wants to embarrass themselves, but playing for something cool on a great track is well worth $150.

  17. Simz

    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:35 am

    Thanks for this! Much appreciated.
    I am looking to play more competitive golf this year, starting with the Club Champs. I wont pursue an amateur career, as I’m way over the hill…but definately more tournaments. It’s pretty difficult with a full time job & family, and I squeeze in all the practise & lessons I can.

    Thanks again & all the best in future tournaments!

    • Jon Sherman

      Feb 17, 2016 at 8:49 am

      thank you! It’s definitely a time-consuming endeavor. I am only planning on playing 2-3 tournaments this year as we have two young children. Luckily I have enough space to fit a practice net in my basement so I can get in some practice sessions here and there. Definitely need to get creative with it when you’re short on time.

  18. Other Paul

    Feb 17, 2016 at 12:32 am

    I have had such a great virtual golf season this winter and improved so much (controlling a hook took time) that i really want to play amateur golf. So this article was a great read for me. Just cant wait for the snow to melt. Also I found a pro that is willing to take me under his wing (He is playing competitive golf already and doing well).

    • Jon Sherman

      Feb 17, 2016 at 8:52 am

      If your goal is to play more competitive golf, I think it’s important to work with a pro who has tournament experience. Coaching is just as important as instruction when gearing up to play in some events.

  19. Andrew

    Feb 16, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Unusual to have unanimous consent on a WRX article – I will add to it: great article both personal and informative. Many thanks Jon!!!

  20. dwc

    Feb 16, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Not just a great article but do yourself a big favor and check out the author’s website “Practical Golf”. I did so this morning. It contains a wealth of great information including tips and reviews. Definitely one of the best golf sites I have used. Thanks Jon!

  21. Johnny

    Feb 16, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Great Article Jon, it was a pleasure to read! Playing in tournaments is where you really develop a passion for the game. I believe the only way to truly develop the game is to get more people (especially juniors) involved in competitive golf at whatever level. Tournament golf is the most rewarding and the most soul crushing activity that you can take part in. A couple years back in our club championship I shot 66, 86 making an 8 on the last hole to lose by 1 shot. Brutal, but I still love it! Can’t wait till this white stuff goes away, and I can start grinding to get my game ready for this year.

    • Jon Sherman

      Feb 16, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      thanks Johnny, glad you enjoyed the read. 66-86 is certainly a hard pill to swallow, but it keeps you coming back for more!

      • Ronald Montesano

        Feb 16, 2016 at 4:43 pm

        It does? Maybe him, but I know fellows who would have broken all their clubs, torched their bag and gone to a monastery to pray for clarity. Johnny, you are more man than many men. Any success stories in subsequent club championships?

        • Jon Sherman

          Feb 16, 2016 at 5:06 pm

          haha I guess I was thinking about that opening round 66. John does certainly have resolve for continuing on after heartbreak like that.

          • Alex

            Feb 17, 2016 at 9:23 am

            This is what competition is about. Especially golf. You have awful days, but you always believe the next will be a brilliant round. Last year I only won our Fourball Match Play competition, got two runner-ups in stroke play and played all year round. Had some terrible rounds, a subpar round and some good scores in the wind. Playing gets to to accept the bad days and get over.

        • Johnny

          Feb 17, 2016 at 9:57 am

          That 86 came thanks to strong wind mixed with a lot of nerves. I didn’t torch my bag or brake all my clubs, but I had to search for clarity in a bottle of Johnny Walker that night. Unfortunately, because of work commitments I was unable to play in the club championship last year, so I missed my chance at revenge. Hopefully I will get the chance this year. I live in Germany, and over here the opportunity for competitive events is endless. Each club has a team and the team travels and plays all the clubs in the area. Also, at least a couple times a month there are stable ford events. I did my fair share of winning last year, but nothing would be sweeter than lifting that club championship trophy up this year.

  22. Alex

    Feb 16, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    In my country we play tournament golf every weekend. Club competitions, Open tourneys, Match play championships. I don’t play that much these days but I still love tournament golf so there’s a bunch of us who used to compete a lot when we were kids and we really enjoy tournament golf.

    We don’t have a lot of time to play but we all have some short focus-oriented practice sessions. Competitive golf is totally addictive and we all want to play our best.

  23. Cliff

    Feb 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Not sure what it is but I seem to play better golf in tournaments. Maybe my decision making is better. Once in a tournament I topped my driver on the first hole. Only used driver 2 times that day.

  24. Erik

    Feb 16, 2016 at 10:01 am

    I’ve played in “hundreds” of tournaments myself, starting in high school, college, USGA, etc. The big factor for me was once I got over being “embarrassed” by my bad shots I had nothing to lose. Who cares if you skull one over the green, every player at this level should be good and have enough respect to realize that this happens to everyone. Just as in life, it only matters how you react to that bad shot going forward. Are you going to let it mentally end your round, or are you going to let it go and move on to the next shot.

    • Jon Sherman

      Feb 16, 2016 at 10:14 am

      I think this is an important point for most golfers to take note of. EVERYONE who has played tournament golf has had moments that are completely embarrassing. You may have had a great start, and are settling into your round, then all of a sudden you make a terrible swing that rocks you to your core. Being able to deal with that moment is the hardest thing to do in competition, and takes a ton of experience to overcome.

      • Erik

        Feb 16, 2016 at 10:48 am

        Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
        Par 4 5 4 4 3 5 4 3 4 4 4 3 4 5 4 3
        RD 3 3 4 4 3 5 4 3 4 4 4 4 4 6 4 4

        17 18 Tot
        Par 5 4 72
        7 5 75 +

        Do you mean something like this Jon? 🙂 -3 after 2, finish +5 over the last 5 holes, shoot a 75 and miss the cut by 1.

        • Jon Sherman

          Feb 16, 2016 at 11:30 am

          ugh, I know that feeling. One moment I will never forget is making bogey from 100 yards out in the middle of the fairway on the last hole of my final high school tournament. Missed the cut by one stroke.

          15+ years later and it still stings!

  25. Dan

    Feb 16, 2016 at 9:52 am

    This honestly might be my favorite GolfWRX article ever. Loved reading the 1st hand experiences. Great advice.

  26. Ryan

    Feb 16, 2016 at 8:44 am

    A great start for many players is amateurgolftour.net – the Golfweek-sponsored amateur tour. Last I checked there were 44 tours nationwide, mostly East of the Mississippi. Ability ranges from Champ Flight (3hdcp and better) to D flight (19+). No, I don’t work for the tour, but I do play on it. Getting 25+ competitive rounds a year is very helpful and takes the 9 out of 10 nervousness down several notches. I play it for fun, for gift card money to buy golf stuff (total club ho here) and as warm-ups for local and state amateur events.

  27. Nick

    Feb 16, 2016 at 8:12 am

    I would say that I think you can almost practice too much to where you play poorly in an event. I think that happening to me one year really should me how to always take a relaxed approach into tournaments. But the realistic expectations are a good reminder. I have played better and won tournaments when I didn’t really have many expectations. It relaxes you and allows you to play more naturally.

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Courses

Open Championship courses you can play (and when the best time to book is)

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The final major of 2024 is nearly here as the top golfers head to Scotland’s southwestern coast to battle for the claret jug at Royal Troon. Golf’s original major dates all the way back to 1860 and has been played at 14 different courses throughout the United Kingdom (yes, this includes Northern Ireland) providing countless memories including celebrations, heartbreak, and unique moments that will never be forgotten (looking at you Jordan Spieth).

With The Open teeing off less than a week from now, we wanted to highlight some of The Open Championship’s finest links courses that should play when you make the journey to golf’s homeland:

Old Course at St. Andrews 

Do we even need to say anything else? The “Home of Golf”, host of 30 Open Championships, the most coveted tee time in the WORLD, there are a million reasons to have St. Andrews on your links golf bucket list. From the double greens, to the tee shot over the Old Course Hotel, to the walk up 18th fairway with the town buildings framing a picturesque scene (especially at dusk), every golfer should make the voyage to St Andrews at least once in their life.

Carnoustie 

Carnoustie – Championship Course

Roughly 25 miles north of St. Andrews lies the devious links of Carnoustie, often recognized by the large white Carnoustie Golf Hotel as the backdrop of the 18th green. While the course has only hosted The Open 8 times, it is considered to be one of the hardest layouts in The Open rota (just ask Jean Van de Velde) although not that long, playing just under 7000 yards from the tips. 

Muirfield 

Located right next to this week’s host of Scottish Open (The Renaissance Club), this fantastic links layout has hosted the prestigious Championship 16 times since 1892. The narrow fairways and penal rough requires precise shots off the tee while avoiding the devious pot bunkers is a must. The course is set away from the coastline so you won’t get the sweeping ocean views, but a round at Muirfield is one the premier tee times in all of Scotland (so make sure you book early – 12-18 months at least).

Royal Portrush 

A view of the new 572 yards par 5, seventh hole designed by Martin Ebert on the Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush Golf Club the host club for the 2019 Open Championship in Portrush, Northern Ireland. © 2018 Rob Durston

Our next stop brings us across the Irish Sea to the northern coast of Northern Ireland and the popular Royal Portrush. Having hosted The Open only twice in its illustrious history, Royal Portrush is a golfer’s dream with 36 holes of pure links golf set against a gorgeous backdrop of the ocean and cliffs. The Open Championship will return to Portrush in 2025 and YOU CAN BE THERE to watch it all in person! 

Royal Troon 

TROON – JULY 26: General view of the ‘Postage Stamp’ par 3, 8th hole taken during a photoshoot held on July 26, 2003 at the Royal Troon Golf Club, venue for the 2004 Open Championships, in Troon, Scotland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

The host of this year’s Open Championship, Royal Troon is home to one of the best par-3 holes in all of golf, “The Postage Stamp.” A downhill 125-yard tee shot to a minuscule green surrounded by bunkers on all sides makes it one of the more challenging holes. Another hole that adds to the challenge is the 601-yard par 5 that used to be the longest golf hole in Open Championship history. This year will be the 10th Open Championship held at Royal Troon, the first since 2016 when Mickelson and Stenson had a battle for the ages in the final round.

Royal Birkdale 

For the next course on the list, we have to head down to the northwest coast of England just outside of Liverpool. Consistently ranked in the Top 10 courses in all the UK, this 10-time host of The Open has hosted many other prestigious events such as Ryder Cups, Women’s Opens, and more! The course is laid out with fairways running through flat-bottomed valleys surrounded by high dunes which provide many blind shots throughout the course. The Open returns to Royal Birkdale in 2026 so it won’t be long before it is back in the spotlight.

Royal St. George’s 

For the final course on our list, we are staying in England, but heading across to the southeastern side of the country to Kent. Royal St. George’s is 4th on the list of most Open Championships hosted with 15 (1 behind Muirfield) the most recent being Collin Morikawa’s victory in 2021. RSG is the only active course on The Open rota in this part of the UK, but two former hosts (Prince’s and Royal Cinque Ports) are within 3 miles of the property. The expansive course is laid out with holes separated by dunes with heavy rough, undulating fairways, and deep pot bunkers to challenge your game. While it may not be mentioned in the discussions of St. Andrews, Carnoustie, and the like, Royal St. George’s is still a Championship layout that is worth the trip across the pond.


With these big-name courses in such high demand, it is important to note that if you want to play them, you need to start planning your trip early. Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, the world’s #1 rated golf tour operator, suggests planning and booking your trip at least 12-18 months in advance in order to secure a tee time at the courses you want. The UK & Ireland specialists at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR have the knowledge to help tailor the perfect golf trip for your group so you can play big-name courses and hidden gems you might not have heard of. If you’re ready to start planning your bucket list trip across the pond, make life easier and go with Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR.

Editor’s note: This article is presented in partnership with Golfbreaks. When you make a purchase through links in this article, GolfWRX may earn an affiliate commission.

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Ryder Cup 2025: Crossing to Bethpage – New York State Park golf, Part 1

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The 2025 Ryder Cup matches will be held over the sprawling, bruising, Long Island acreage known as Bethpage Black State Park Golf Course. The course has hosted multiple national championships, most recently the 2019 PGA Championship. In September 2025, Bethpage Black will welcome teams from the USA and Europe to contest the 45th Ryder Cup matches. Team Europe, the defending champions, will be led again by captain Luke Donald. The U.S. PGA has not yet announced the name of its leader, yet all sources and speculations point to a 15-time major champion and an eight-time participant in the biennial event.

Bethpage Black will join Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester (1995) as the second Empire State course to host the event. The Ryder Cup matches were played in the metropolitan New York area once before, in 1935 at the Ridgewood Club, in Paramus, New Jersey. It’s fair to say that metro NYC is due to host this world-stage, golf event. I can’t wait. The USA’s loss to Europe in 2023 adds to the considerable drama.

What makes Bethpage Black an outlier in the world of championship golf, is its mere existence. It’s a state park golf course, one of five on property, each with a colorful name. The Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow join big brother Black as outstanding tests of golf in Farmingdale. Of the five, only the Green was not originally built as a state course. The Lenox Hills Country Club, designed by Devereux Emmet, opened in 1923. By 1932, the club had closed and the land had become property of the state. Its birth date made the Green the oldest of the five courses. New York State began to build on a series of adjacent parcels, guided by the hands of Alber “A.W.” Tillinghast, Joseph Burbeck, and Alfred Tull. The Yellow course, built entirely by Tull, was the last of the five to open.

State park courses just don’t hold major championships. Private clubs and elite resorts are the typical sites that receive the nod from the world’s golf bodies. It’s a testament to the lovers of Bethpage, the New York state government, and the PGA of America (among others) that Bethpage is as good as it is, and that it continues to improve. It’s a fitting site for the 2025 Ryder Cup matches, but the 2025 Ryder Cup matches need a beginning to their story. I’ll do my best to provide it.

The quintet of courses near Bethpage, New York, is just the beginning of the New York state park golf course system. 19 parks in total offer golf from the tip of Long Island, to the shores of Lake Ontario, through the Catskill mountains, to my home town. I’m a Western New York guy. The Buffalo area has been my home for most of my 58 years on the golf ball known as Earth. I live two miles from the westernmost, state park golf course: Beaver Island. The Beav, as everyone calls it, was designed by William Harries. It opened the year I was born, which means that it is close to 60 years old! Unlike the Bethpage property, where topography is king, the Beav is a flat course, albeit full of enough interest to bring you back for more.

As I considered the magnitude of the state park system, I realized that golfers who frequent those 19 state parks can point to their home course and say, “You know, the Ryder Cup will be at a state park course next year.” I started to count on my fingers, the number of state park courses I had played: Beaver Island, Green Lakes (Syracuse), James Baird (Poughkeepsie), and the five at Bethpage, I realized that I had played eight of the 23 total courses, and had visited a mere four of the 19 parks.

Bethpage is the only, multi-course state park across the Empire State. Other venues range from pitch-and-putt, to nine-hole, to regulation 18-hole courses. The majority occupy nice tracts of land, and feature 18 holes of memorable, enjoyable golf. PGA Tour professionals Joey Sindelar and Mike Hulbert grew up on one of those courses, and Dottie Pepper spent a bit of time on another, near her hometown.

There will be many stories that trace the path to Bethpage and its 2025 Ryder Cup, and I look forward to reading and hearing them. This one is my own, and I’m proud (and a little frightened) to undertake it. I’ll visit each of the remaining parks over the next 16 months, and report in with images and words that tell the story of each park and its golf course.

The Ones I’ve Played

The Bethpage Five

As mentioned above, I’ve played eight of the 23 courses, but the majority of that number is owed to a 2011 pilgrimage to Long Island. The Black had just hosted its second US Open championship, and the ink for the 2019 PGA Championship was not yet printed. I spoke with a Bethpage caddy, in anticipation of the trek. I wrote a series of articles on the courses on my own site, BuffaloGolfer. Down the road of this, current series, I’ll discuss the most poignant piece that I connected with Bethpage. That’s a story for another time. After all, Bethpage is a five-course meal.

It’s safe to say the the Bethpage property is unlike any other, municipal, golfing space in the world (at least, those not named the Links Trust of St. Andrews!) The park encompasses nearly 1500 acres of wooded land and offers much beyond golf to its visitors. As pilgrimages go, Bethpage is it. For a New York state resident, on a weekend, it would cost a total of $257 dollars … to play all five courses. Even for those outside the state, the trip to Bethpage is worth consideration. Each course rambles over uneven, heaving land. Holes carry along falloffs and bend unexpectedly around corners. Greens are benched into hillsides and settled into valleys. All five courses remind you of the others, yet none of them says to you “You’ve played this course before.”

James Baird State Park 

One of the hats that I wear, is high school golf coach. Each spring, golfers from my team travel to Poughkeepsie to play the James Baird State Park golf course. Pronounced “Bard,” the course was opened in 1948, after a middle-aged, Robert Trent Jones, senior, put pen to paper to lay out the course. Jones was about to become a household name, as he would offer renovation advice to many of the country’s classic clubs. He was most famously associated with the Oakland Hills Country Club near Detroit, the host site of the 1951 US Open. You know, the one where Ben Hogan purportedly gasped “I’m glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees.”

Trent didn’t leave a monster in Poughkeepsie. What he left was something that locals call Baby Bethpage. The James Baird course is blessed with topography similar to its five-course cousin, but it offered a challenge that Bethpage does not: a huge expanse of marsh across the belly of the property. There was not going over nor through it, so Jones simply went around it. He created something that he never, ever did: a short par three. Jones was a fan of the brutish, 200-yard plus, all-carry, par three hole. For the third hole at Baird, he had all of 120 yards, and it was downhill! Jones placed a green in the marsh, connected to the mainland by an earthen bridge. He then turned north for a time, then returned south, outside the marsh. Trent Jones had another stretch of tricky land to navigate, this time, on the inward half. He brought a trio of holes (pars 4-3-5) through a challenging corner of the property, before returning to the open meadow that hosts the majority of the layout.

James Baird is a tremendous golf course, one that prepares our high school competitors well for the next step: the state federation championship at, you guessed it, Bethpage Black. Six golfers move on to compete against other, high school divisions, at the big brother of them all.

Green Lakes

The Baird course came to life 13 years after Trent Jones opened his first, New York state parks course. Originally from Rochester, New York, Trent ventured 90 minutes east to Manlius, near Syracuse, in 1935, to lay out one of his first ten courses. RTJ was gifted the magnificent land that abuts the two glacial lakes in central New York. The lakes are meromictic, which we all know means that surface and bottom waters do not mix in the fall and spring, as happens with dimictic lakes.

Trent Jones placed his clubhouse and finishing greens (9 and 18) in an interesting portion of the property. The ninth hole is an uphill, par five that plays fifty yards longer than its measured distance. Once home to upper and lower greens, the lower has been expanded and enhanced, and the upper is now abandoned. On the other side of the clubhouse, the sneaky 18th moves out of a corridor of trees, into the open space beneath the clubhouse. It’s a bit reminiscent of the 18th at Bethpage’s Green course. It’s not a long hole, yet when you walk off with five or six on your card, you wonder where you went astray.

The front half of the course plays along a vast meadow, above Green Lake, the larger of the two, nautical bodies. The inward side forages among the tree above Round Lake, before finally emerging at the home hole. The apparent contrariety of the two nines is resolved through expansion of fairway corridors on the treed nine, and the constriction of playing paths with bunkers and doglegs, on the exposed side.

If you’re a walker, Green Lakes will make you a fit one. It will also demand all the clubs and shots that you can fit in your bag.

Beaver Island

“Tame” isn’t the proper term to describe Beaver Island, the state park course near my home. I believe that “calm” is a better term. It may seem ironic, given that the 1965 course occupies a tract of land at the southern tip of Grand Island, where the Niagara River splits east and west, before reuniting at the north end. When we think of the Niagara, we think of the mighty rapids and cascades near the brink and bottom of the falls. At the southern split of the river, however, you can throw a canoe in the water and have a paddle. Beaver Island knows that it is adjacent to the river, but you never get the sense that this golf course borders water. I’ve redesigned the park hundreds of times in my head, moving the golf course to the banks of the river, where the trails, beach, playground, and other amenities are currently found. In the end, not every great golf course can, nor should, be built.

William Harries trained under the famed competitor and architect, Walter Travis. Despite this exposure to the master, Harries went his own way with his golf courses. The most striking difference is in green construction. While Travis was extraordinarily creative and daring, Harries was the polar opposite. His greens are routinely flat and easy to navigate.

He designed a number in the western New York area, including Brookfield Country Club. Originally known as Meadow Brook, the club hosted the 1948 Western Open, won by the aforementioned, Ben Hogan. The majority of Harries’ work was in municipal courses, and he designed Sheridan Park for the town of Tonawanda. That course hosted the 1962 USGA Public Links championship.

On Grand Island, Harries traced his layout around three ponds. The massive, western one, comes into play on the second through fifth holes. The middle one plays games with the approach to the eighth green. The final one, on the inward side, forces golfers to carry their tee shot over water, to the 14th fairway. Beaver Island bears no resemblance to the topography of the other locales mentioned previously. There is no heaving, no tumbling, no turbulence, along its fairways. Beaver Island is more St. Andrews in its flattish presentation, which makes it an honest, what-you-see, sort of golf course. It’s an enjoyable walk in the park, a not-too-demanding one.

Part Two: south-central New York-Soaring Eagles, Chenango Valley, Indian Hills, and Bonavista

https://www.rydercup.com/ PGA of America Ryder Cup Trophy

Ryder Cup Trophy @ Bethpage – Photo courtesy of PGA of America

 

 

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Travelers Championship betting preview: Patrick Cantlay to continue impressive play

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The third major championship of 2024 did not disappoint as Bryson Dechambeau capped off a sensational week with the second U.S. Open victory of his career. The season rolls along to Cromwell, Connecticut, where TPC River Highlands hosts the 2024 Travelers Championship. This is yet another designated event with a $20 million dollar purse.

TPC River Highlands is a 6,841-yard par-70 that has been a PGA Tour stop for 40 years. Home of the only 58 in Tour history, it is possible to go extremely low at this Pete Dye design. However, TPC River Highlands does feature a difficult closing stretch with holes 16-18 all historically averaging scores over par.

The Travelers Championship will play host to 72 golfers this week. Being a signature event, almost all of the best players on Tour will be teeing it up. 

PGA Tour U winner, Michael Thorbjornsen, will be making his season debut this week at the Travelers. 

Past Winners at The Travelers Championship

  • 2023: Keegan Bradley (-23)
  • 2022: Xander Schauffele (-19)
  • 2021: Harris English (-13)
  • 2020: Dustin Johnson (-19)
  • 2019: Chez Reavie (-17)
  • 2018: Bubba Watson (-17)
  • 2017: Jordan Spieth (-12)
  • 2016: Russell Knox (-14)

Key Stats For TPC River Highlands

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for TPC River Highlands to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach sits at the top spot in the stat model this week. The course is relatively short, and golfers with multiple types of skill sets compete here. Iron play is often the great equalizer allowing the shorter hitters to compete, and that should be the case again this week.

SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1.61)
  2. Corey Conners (+1.11)
  3. Sepp Straka (+0.92)
  4. Xander Schauffele (+0.91)
  5. Tony Finau (+0.88)

2. Par 4 Birdie or Better %

With only two par-5s on the course, the importance of par-4 scoring cannot be understated. Whoever plays the par-4s most effectively this week will put himself in the driver’s seat.

Par 4 Birdie or Better % Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Eric Cole (25.4%)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+24.6%)
  3. Patrick Cantlay (+23.5%)
  4. Rory McIlroy (+22.8%)
  5. Wyndham Clark (+22.7%)

3. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

Ball striking combines off the tee and approach and will be the stat I use to incorporate off-the-tee play this week. The over-emphasis on approach play will incorporate golfers who give themselves plenty of birdie looks in the event.

SG: Ball Striking past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.56)
  2. Ludvig Aberg (+1.67)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+1.57)
  4. Rory McIlroy (+1.44)
  5. Corey Conners (+1.31)

4. Course History

Course history has proven to be a major factor at TPC River Highlands. With seven golfers who have multiple wins at the course, familiarity could be the key at the Travelers Championship.

Strokes Gained: Total at TPC River Highlands per round over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+2.03)
  2. Patrick Cantlay (+2.02)
  3. Brian Harman (+1.98)
  4. Rory McIlroy (+1.97)
  5. Scottie Scheffler (+1.54)

5. Strokes Gained: Total Pete Dye Designs

TPC River Highlands is another prototypical Pete Dye track where many of the same golfers play well consistently.

SG: Pete Dye per round Over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.49)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+2.22)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+1.86)
  4. Brian Harman (+1.66)
  5. Patrick Cantlay (+1.61)

6. Strokes Gained: Putting on Bent/POA Mix

TPC River Highlands is another prototypical Pete Dye track where many of the same golfers play well consistently.

Strokes Gained: Putting on Bent/POA Mix Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Denny McCarthy (+1.41)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+1.04)
  3. Keegan Bradley (+1.01)
  4. Robert MacIntyre (+0.98)
  5. Wyndham Clark (+0.84)

The Travelers Championship Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (26%), Par 4 Birdie or Better % (13%), SG: Ball Striking (20%), Course History (13%), SG: Putting Bent/POA (14%) and SG: Pete Dye (14%).

  1. Xander Schauffele
  2. Rory McIlroy
  3. Scottie Scheffler 
  4. Viktor Hovland
  5. Corey Conners
  6. Sahith Theegala
  7. Brian Harman
  8. Keegan Bradley
  9. Collin Morikawa
  10. Tony Finau

2024 Travelers Championship Picks

Patrick Cantlay +2500 (FanDuel)

When a player contends in a major in the previous week, I typically like to fade said player the following week. However, this week feels a bit different to me. Cantlay has been struggling all season, and I can’t help but feel like the former FedEx Cup champion found something during the U.S. Open. I also don’t think he was incredibly disappointed with the result. He played well on Sunday and was impressive over the weekend, finally getting a true feel of what major championship contention felt like. It was all positives for Cantlay at Pinehurst.

Cantlay will now head to a spot where he’s had an incredible amount of success but has not yet notched a victory. In his last six starts at the course, he’s not finished worse than 15th. His best start came last year, where he finished T4. He ranks 1st in the field in Strokes Gained: Total at TPC River Highlands. Cantlay is also a Pete Dye specialist and ranks 4th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on Dye tracks. The 32-year-old ranks 3rd in Par 4 birdie or better percentage.

Cantlay was spectacular across the board at Pinehurst. For the week, he ranked 3rd in Strokes Gained: Approach, 7th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 10th in Strokes Gained: Putting. I fully expect him to build off of that performance and contend once again at one of his favorite Tour stops.

Sam Burns +3500 (DraftKings)

Sam Burns had a great Sunday at Pinehurst, which is always a bonus heading into the following week. He shot -3 in his final round, which got him into the top ten (T9) in what was a successful major for a player who’s not performed his best in them historically.

Burns is a prolific birdie maker who can win a boat race to -20 as well as anyone on Tour. He’s also had some success at both Pete Dye courses, where he ranks 13th in Strokes Gained: Total over his past 36 rounds, and at TPC River Highlands, where he ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Total over his past 36 rounds.

Burns has been playing some solid golf of late. He has four top-15 finishes in his past starts including a T13 at the Wells Fargo Championship, 10th at the RBC Canadian Open and 15th at the Memorial Tournament. He has gained strokes on approach and off the tee in five of his past six starts.

The LSU product can win golf tournaments in a variety of ways. His ability to make putts if it turns into a wedge and putting contest makes him a strong candidate to contend this week.

Sahith Theegala +4500 (BetRivers)

Sahith Theegala has been playing some solid golf over the last few months. As we saw last year with Keegan Bradley, a missed cut at the U.S. Open shouldn’t necessarily scare someone off from a player who fits TPC River Highlands, which I believe Theegala does.

TPC River Highlands is the site of Theegala’s near victory a few years back. He finished in a tie for 2nd in 2022 after making double-bogey on the 18th hole with a one-shot lead, losing to Xander Schauffele. Theegala will now head back to the course as a more mature player who is in the midst of the best season of his career.

This season, the former Haskins award winner in having strong finishes in some of the season’s most important events. He finished 5th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, 6th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, 9th at the PLAYERS Championship, 2nd at the RBC Heritage and 12th at both the Memorial Tournament and PGA Championship.

In his past 24 rounds, Sahith ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 11th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, 18th in Par 4 birdie or better percentage and 8th in Strokes Gained: Putting on Bent/POA mixed putting surfaces.

If this turns into another shootout, Theegala has the type of ball striking and putting combination that can win a race to -20.

Sungjae Im +6600 (BetRivers)

After seemingly regaining his form over the past month, Sungjae took a step back at last week’s U.S. Open. The South Korean missed the cut, shooting +10 over his first two rounds. Despite the disappointing result, I don’t believe one poor start at a long and difficult golf course is enough reason to give up on him. 

Although the score was regretful at Pinehurst No. 2, Im hit the ball pretty well from tee to green. In his two rounds, he gained strokes both off the tee and on approach. His downfall was with the putter, which can be extremely hit or miss, especially over the course of this season.

Prior to the U.S. Open, Sungjae had finished in the top ten in three of his previous four starts. He finished T4 at the Wells Fargo “Signature Event” at Quail Hollow, T9 at the Charles Schwab Challenge and T8 at The Memorial Tournament. He’s also gained strokes off the tee in nine straight events.

Im has made three starts at TPC River Highlands, finishing 21st, 58th and 29th respectively. Im hits fairways at a high clip, which will be a massive advantage this week and his lack of driving distance won’t be an issue. He also ranks 12th in the field in his past 24 rounds in Strokes Gained: Total on Pete Dye designs.

It’s been a long time since Im has won an event (2021 Shriners), but I believe he’s back on the upswing and is still a higher end talent on the PGA Tour with another win coming soon.

Tom Kim +6600 (BetRivers)

After a sluggish start to the 2024 season, Tom Kim has come on strong over the past month or so. The South Korean started his stretch of impressive play at Valhalla for the PGA Championship, finishing 24th. After that, Kim put together finishes of T4 at the RBC Canadian Open and a T26 at last week’s U.S. Open. In between, he finished T43 at The Memorial, but hit the ball great from tee to green.

Tom has done an impressive job of playing well at long and difficult setups, but this week, he will head to a course in TPC River Highlands that should his game immaculately. Both of Kim’s wins have come at short setups that mitigate his biggest weakness, which is driving distance. The course is short this week and fits the mold of the tracks Tom has had great success at over the past few seasons on Tour.

In his past 24 rounds, Kim ranks 7th in Par 4 birdie or better percentage, which will come into play this week. He also ranks 19th in the field in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Kim is already a three-time winner on the PGA Tour and has shown that if he gets a sniff of contention, he can close out a tournament with the best of them.

 

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