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The Future of Golf Might Not Involve Grass

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What if I told you that in the future, golf will not be played on grass? Surely you’d call me crazy, but we’re slowly approaching that reality each day.

For centuries, the golf industry has been defined by green-grass facilities, but that definition is now changing. In 2017, golf is seeing some of its fastest growth from non-green-grass segments, including golf-entertainment venues like Top Golf, training centers like Peak Golf Fitness (Washington, D.C.) and The Golf Lab (Toronto), and private clubs like Golf and Body (New York City).

Although this phenomenon is somewhat new to North America, it has been a part of international golf for decades. In Asia, because of the high level of urbanization and the expense of the game, many golfers have played literally all of their golf at driving ranges and at indoor, simulator-based golf clubs.

“In South Korea, all the ranges are two or three tiers, with 50-75 stalls at each level, much like you would see at a Top Golf,” say E.J. Kim, a Golf Digest Top 40 Under 40 instructor at Axis Golf Academy in Houston. “Golf is extremely popular, despite the fact that many players never play at a course.”

Kim says that public golf is extremely limited in South Korea. It can cost upward of $150 per round plus caddie fees. Private golf facilities have memberships that range from $200,000 to $300,000. Because of this, simulators made by Golfzon, a Korean company, have become so popular that it has grown into a billion-dollar company.

TopGolfVegas

On U.S. soil, Top Golf has created a course-free experience through multi-level ranges with built-in capabilities to play competitive games. The Top Golf website describes its goal as, “To help you create unforgettable experiences with friends and family.” It does so through interactive games that cater to golfers and non-golfers alike; all skill levels can find enjoyment from the platform.

When players are not physically hitting shots at Top Golf, they are treated to their own HDTV, live music and a multitude of food and beverage options. Instead of waiting for the foursome ahead of you to clear off the green ahead of you, imagine sitting on a couch with your feet up and a beverage in your hand. It’s a bit of a different experience altogether, but it’s one that golfers and non-golfers are gravitating toward.

In another realm, during a recent trip to Washington, D.C., I dropped by Peak Golf Fitness. The company specializes in golf fitness and performance training.

PEAK-Class-Jason-5

“When you live in an urban environment like D.C., you have so much competition for your time and attention, and with work and commute times it is difficult to get to the golf course and work on your game before it gets dark.” says owner Jason Meisch. “Peak not only simplifies the time component, it also offers our clients the best access to facilities, technologies and expertise. They know when they come they will get a great experience, see some friends, and have a chance to improve.”

Meisch also mentioned that the physical performance aspect of the game is very valuable to his clients because of these time restrictions.

“Our members can now practice and workout in one place,” Meisch said. “It gives our members greater flexibility in their lives, as well as an opportunity to improve, working on a game they love within their schedules.”

With more than half of Americans living in cities, golf is expanding outside traditional green-grass facilities and offering urban players opportunities to interact with the game. New companies are filling these voids by offering players in their markets access to top facilities loaded with the latest technology and world class experts. Are theses facilities the future of the game? Maybe not the entire future, but they’re certainly an area of growing importance. Years down the line, “playing golf” may not mean exactly the same thing it does now.

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Brendan Ryan, an entrepreneur and scientist, is a passionate golfer who loves his local muni. Armed with a keen interest in the game, a large network of friends in the industry, Brendan works to find and produce unique content for GolfWRX.

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Peter Schmitt

    Jul 10, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Even if this article loses me in some places, I can appreciate the spirit of the message here. Golf is a game which requires hours upon hours of devotion to even be marginally good. The majority of people in today’s society don’t have 4 to 6 hour blocks of free time on multiple days in the same week. How does golf fit in your life if you only have 20 minutes to spare here and there? The answer is debatable, but we have to agree it’s something other than a traditional round of 18 (or even 9) holes…

  2. nyguy

    Jul 7, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Top golf is the the golf version of “bowlmor”. It’s corny.

  3. James G

    Jul 7, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Top Golf is a current trend and after a few years it will become much less trendy. It’s still relatively new right now. As for simulators, I can recall in the 80s when a driving range installed some simulators indoors for the winter and rainy days. Was busy as anything on them for the first year then it died out. Trendy things come and go.

  4. CB

    Jul 5, 2017 at 5:22 am

    Ive never seen anything like the Top Golf pic in this article but I think it looks like fun. More like an alternative to bowling than a replacement for outdoor golf.

    I also reckon this would be a great way to get more kids involved in golf.

    Are the costs similar to bowling?

  5. Art Williams

    Jul 3, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Just another way to get non golfers into a game of near golf. Quit worrying about the number of golfers. Unless you’re trying to make your living on golf, no one cares. These new places like Top Golf are fads and we know what happens to them eventually. I remember when people thought putt putt or miniature golf was going to replace real golf. How’d that work out. Unless you’re on vacation with the family in Myrtle Beach miniature golf is a bust. So too will be Top Golf.

  6. Jack Nash

    Jul 3, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    You guys are funny. Any chance you get, “let’s throw in a pic of Tiger”. How about any other known Pro who’s actually playing golf, tossing up sprigs of grass?

  7. Robert Parsons

    Jul 3, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    This story is a complete shank.

    Sure, I want the hacks to stay at the range.

    But the day golf is no longer played on grass, I quit. Simple as that.

  8. Ron

    Jul 3, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Those who have the urge to play a round of golf will not settle for an indoor simulator, period. There is certainly a place for Top Golf in the industry and I think it’s fantastic what they’re doing. But it will never take away more than a marginal number of golfers from real courses

  9. Tourgrinder

    Jul 3, 2017 at 11:01 am

    You HAVE to know something’s seriously wrong when the game of golf and the golf industry has to look at bowling for new ideas and ways to play the game. Here’s the jist of the idea — sitting around a half-moon banquet, drinking beer and cajoling. Then every so often you stumble to your feet and hit a shot off a mat and have it recorded by computer. There are people suggesting that’s the future of golf?? Personally, I haven’t played any Topgolf, but I’ve seen it in action. It looks somewhat fun for friends and buddies on a Friday or Saturday night, but for some people (Matt Ginella at Golf Channel is another one), to suggest these kinds of ideas are all contributing to “growing the game” is ludicrous, dangerous, and just plain off the beam. I had a sick feeling when watching Caddyshack II when it came out that someday someone would look at that film and actually think Jackie Mason’s character Jack Hartounian had some very good ideas.

  10. Jack

    Jul 3, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Could happen. It’s much cheaper to maintain these facilities compared to a standard golf course. Golfzon is very accurate, but it’s still held back by that the matt you hit off of is still way too forgiving. Bunkers and rough shots are too easy as well. The plate does move to provide different lies, but you’ll never have to hit a shot where your feet are in the bunker and the ball is by your chest. Good thing is you don’t ever need to search for your ball, all the data is available to you as well. It’s easier than in real life, no doubt about it. But it’s still decent practice.

  11. Looper

    Jul 2, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Yawn…

  12. JThunder

    Jul 2, 2017 at 4:18 am

    No.

    The “future of music” isn’t karaoke either.

  13. Dat

    Jul 2, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Top Golf is fun, but not real golf. If hipster d bags want to go there and hack it up, I’m all for it. Keeps them off the real courses.

  14. WolfWRX

    Jul 1, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    If the future of the game no longer involves playing outside on a grass course whilst enjoying nature and the environment, then it’s no longer golf.

  15. SH

    Jul 1, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Wait a second guys, realize this:

    For us real golfers who want to play on a real golf course by spending 4, 5, 6 hours or more outside on a real golf course on real grass –

    This is a great thing. It will keep the lazy hackers off the real courses for us real golfers to have to not have to deal with the hacks who would prefer to sit there and treat it like bowling guzzling jugs of beer and eating extra large pizzas getting fat and going nowhere, listening to loud music yelling at each other and having no respect for anything or anybody around them.

    So lets not mock it. For us real golfers, this is a real benefit. The short-attention-span kids will programme themselves to be even more short-attention, and won’t have any patience for the real sport on a real course that takes patience, courtesy and manners and respect to play it properly. Let them destroy themselves at these pseudo-video game venues and let’s keep them there and off our beautiful courses!

    Yeah!

    • Was

      Jul 3, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      They ain’t gonna be awake when they’re face-down in their leftover pizza after a dozen jugs of beer and, a only couple of bad swings because that’s all the exercise their fat bodies can handle

    • Steve

      Jul 4, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      Real golfers? LOL.

  16. Mat

    Jul 1, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    A better assessment here might be that industry revenue is growing much faster outside traditional courses. That’s a fact. However, it’s a bit disingenuous to say it’s “the future”. Rather, when people complain about golf as a “shrinking sport”, they would be incorrect if they included this type of growth.

  17. Grits

    Jul 1, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Video game golf eliminates courses, clubs, walking and waiting, and is the next phase of golf development for the future.

    • setter02

      Jul 3, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      No its not, just as being a driving range pro doesn’t equate to good play actually on the course. It’s just another avenue within this industry that can’t actually replace the real thing.

  18. Matt

    Jul 1, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    To clarify, what about players outside of main centres and small countries? Our small town country club doesn’t even have a driving range or practice area other than a tiny warm up green next to the car park, and only the most obsessed player would fork out for a virtual course in their garage. On the upside, at least hitting balls (baseball, softball, golf) in a room or range is a lot more fun than treadmills, gyms and stationery bikes.

  19. Matt

    Jul 1, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    What sort of reporting is this? Shank.

  20. Em-Smizle

    Jul 1, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    More millennial bs

  21. Ward Wayne

    Jul 1, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Golf is about the outdoors and nature, despite the problem the environment brings. TopGolf is fun but it is just practice. Despite my recent round with some uneven tee boxes, horrible lies in the fairway, bunkers with a mixture of hard and soft sand with small rocks and pebbles, leaves all over the green and the bug that few in my face when I was about to putt my par save … it is all part of the game!

  22. Bruce Ferguson

    Jul 1, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Although Top Golf and indoor venues are fun, nothing can replace being outdoors for me. Hopefully, urban sprawl and economics don’t deny outdoor course play for future generations.

  23. Philip

    Jul 1, 2017 at 9:59 am

    What is the point of it then – might as well attach yourself to some VR glasses, guzzle beer and be just like the pros without hardly any effort. Or maybe show your moves on some VR downhill boarding with a real board attached to a simulator (with cushioning all around in case you wipe out on the virtual mountain) … don’t even have to worry about the cold … can wear shorts.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 PGA Championship betting preview: Rising star ready to join the immortals at Valhalla

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The second major of the 2024 season is upon us as the world’s best players will tee it up this week at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky to compete for the Wanamaker Trophy.

The last time we saw Valhalla host a major championship, Rory McIlroy fended off Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler and the creeping darkness that was descending upon the golf course. The Northern Irishman had the golf world in the palm of his hand, joining only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as players who’d won four major championships by the time they were 25 years old. 

Valhalla is named after the great hall described in Norse mythology where the souls of Vikings feasted and celebrated with the Gods. The course is a Jack Nicklaus-design that has ranked among Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Courses” for three decades. 

Valhalla Golf Club is a par-71 measuring 7,542 yards with Zoysia fairways and Bentgrass greens. The course has rolling hills and dangerous streams scattered throughout and the signature 13th hole is picturesque with limestone and unique bunkering protecting the green. The 2024 PGA Championship will mark the fourth time Valhalla has hosted the event. 

The field this week will consist of 156 players, including 16 PGA Champions and 33 Major Champions. 

Past Winners of the PGA Championship

  • 2023: Brooks Koepka (-9) Oak Hill
  • 2022: Justin Thomas (-5) Southern Hills
  • 2021: Phil Mickelson (-6) Kiawah Island
  • 2020: Collin Morikawa (-13) TPC Harding Park
  • 2019: Brooks Koepka (-8) Bethpage Black
  • 2018: Brooks Koepka (-16) Bellerive
  • 2017: Justin Thomas (-8) Quail Hollow
  • 2016: Jimmy Walker (-14) Baltusrol
  • 2015: Jason Day (-20) Whistling Straits
  • 2014: Rory McIlroy (-16) Valhalla

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Key Stats For Valhalla

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for Oak Hill to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their past 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Valhalla will play as a true all-around test of golf for the world’s best. Of course, it will take strong approach play to win a major championship.

Strokes Gained: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Shane Lowry (+1.25)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+1.09)
  3. Jordan Smith (+1.05)
  4. Tom Hoge (+.96)
  5. Corey Conners (+.94)

2. Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

Valhalla will play long and the rough will be penal. Players who are incredibly short off the tee and/or have a hard time hitting fairways will be all but eliminated from contention this week at the PGA Championship. 

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Bryson DeChambeau (+1.47)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+1.11)
  3. Keith Mitchell (+.90)
  4. Alejandro Tosti (+.89)
  5. Ludvig Aberg (+.82)

Strokes Gained: Total on Nickalus Designs

Valhalla is a classic Nicklaus Design. Players who play well at Nicklaus designs should have an advantage coming into this major championship. 

Strokes Gained: Total on Nicklaus Designs over past 36 rounds:

  1. Jon Rahm (+2.56)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+2.48)
  3. Patrick Cantlay (+2.35)
  4. Collin Morikawa (+1.79)
  5. Shane Lowry (+1.57)

Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on Very Long Courses

Valhalla is going to play extremely long this week. Players who have had success playing very long golf courses should be better equipped to handle the conditions of this major championship.

Strokes Gained: Total on Very Long Courses Over Past 24 Rounds: 

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.44)
  2. Rory McIlroy (+2.24)
  3. Will Zalatoris (+1.78)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+1.69)
  5. Xander Schauffele (+1.60)

Strokes Gained: Total in Major Championships

One factor that tends to play a large role in deciding major championships is which players have played well in previous majors leading up to the event. 

Strokes Gained: Total in Major Championships over past 20 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+3.14)
  2. Will Zalatoris (+2.64)
  3. Rory McIlroy (+2.49)
  4. Xander Schauffele (+2.48)
  5. Tommy Fleetwood (2.09)

Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass Greens

Valhalla features pure Bentgrass putting surfaces. Players who are comfortable putting on this surface will have an advantage on the greens. 

Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass Greens over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Ludvig Aberg (+1.12)
  2. Denny McCarthy (+1.08)
  3. Matt Fitzpatrick (+0.99)
  4. Justin Rose (+0.93)
  5. J.T. Poston (0.87)

Strokes Gained: Total on Zoysia Fairways

Valhalla features Zoysia fairways. Players who are comfortable playing on this surface will have an advantage on the field.

Strokes Gained: Total on Zoysia Fairways over past 36 rounds: 

  1. Justin Thomas (+1.53)
  2. Will Zalatoris (+1.47)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+1.40)
  4. Brooks Koepka (+1.35)
  5. Rory McIlroy (+1.23)

2024 PGA Championship Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (25%), SG: Off the Tee (22%), SG: T2G on Very Long Courses (12%), SG: Putting on Bentgrass (+12%), SG: Total on Nicklaus Designs (12%). SG: Total on Zoysia Fairways (8%), and SG: Total in Major Championships (8%). 

  1. Brooks Koepka
  2. Xander Schauffele
  3. Rory McIlroy
  4. Scottie Scheffler
  5. Bryson DeChambeau
  6. Shane Lowry
  7. Alex Noren
  8. Will Zalatoris
  9. Cameron Young
  10. Keith Mitchell
  11. Hideki Matsuyama
  12. Billy Horschel
  13. Patrick Cantlay
  14. Viktor Hovland
  15. Adam Schenk
  16. Chris Kirk
  17. Sahith Theegala
  18. Min Woo Lee
  19. Joaquin Niemann
  20. Justin Thomas

2024 PGA Championship Picks

Ludvig Aberg +1800 (BetMGM)

At The Masters, Ludvig Aberg announced to the golf world that he’s no longer an “up and coming” player. He’s one of the best players in the game of golf, regardless of experience.

Augusta National gave Aberg some necessary scar tissue and showed him what being in contention at a major championship felt like down the stretch. Unsurprisingly, he made a costly mistake, hitting it in the water left of the 11th hole, but showed his resilience by immediately bouncing back. He went on to birdie two of his next three holes and finished in solo second by three shots. With the type of demeanor that remains cool in pressure situations, I believe Ludvig has the right mental game to win a major at this point in his career.

Aberg has not finished outside of the top-25 in his past eight starts, which includes two runner-up finishes at both a “Signature Event” and a major championship. The 24-year-old is absolutely dominant with his driver, which will give him a major advantage this week. In the field he ranks, in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, and has gained strokes in the category in each of his past ten starts. Aberg is already one of the best drivers of the golf ball on the planet.

In Norse mythology, Valhalla is the great hall where the souls of Vikings feasted and celebrated with the Gods. The Swedes, who are of Old Norse origin, were the last of the three Scandinavian Kingdoms to abandon the Old Norse Gods. A Swede played a major role in the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla, and I believe another, Ludvig Aberg, will be the one to conquer Valhalla in 2024. 

Bryson DeChambeau +2800 (BetMGM)

Bryson DeChambeau is one of the few players in the world that I believe has the game to go blow-for-blow with Scottie Scheffler. Although he isn’t as consistent as Scheffler, when he’s at his best, Bryson has the talent to beat him.

At The Masters, DeChambeau put forth a valiant effort at a golf course that simply does not suit his game. Valhalla, on the other hand, is a course that should be perfect for the 30-year-old. His ability to overpower a golf course with his driver will be a serious weapon this week.

Bryson has had some success at Jack Nicklaus designs throughout his career as he won the Memorial at Muirfield Village back in 2018. He’s also had incredible results on Bentgrass greens for the entirety of his professional career. Of his 10 wins, nine of them have come on Bentgrass greens, with the only exception being the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. He also has second place finishes at Medinah and TPC Summerlin, which feature Bentgrass greens.

Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to argue that Bryson isn’t one of the most exciting and important players in the game of golf. He’s also one of the best players in the world. A second major is coming soon for DeChambeau, and I believe he should be amongst the favorites to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy this week.

Patrick Cantlay +4000 (FanDuel)

There’s no way of getting around it: Patrick Cantlay has been dissapointing in major championships throughout his professional career. He’s been one of the top players on Tour for a handful of years and has yet to truly contend at a major championship, with the arguable exception of the 2019 Masters.

Despite not winning majors, Cantlay has won some big events. The 32-year-old has won two BMW Championships, two Memorial Tournaments as well as a Tour Championship. His victories at Memorial indicate how much Cantlay loves Nicklaus designs, where he ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Total over his past 36 rounds behind only Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm.

Cantlay also loves Bentgrass greens. Six of Cantlay’s seven individual wins on the PGA Tour have come on Bentgrass greens and he also was one of the best putters at the 2023 Ryder cup at Marco Simone (also Bentgrass). At Caves Valley (2021 BMW Championship), he gained over 12 strokes putting to outduel another Bentgrass specialist, Bryson DeChambeau.

Cantlay finished 22nd in The Masters, which was a solid result considering how many elite players struggled that week. He also has two top-ten finishes in his past five PGA Championships. He’s undeniably one of the best players in the field, therefore, it comes down to believing Cantlay has the mental fortitude to win a major, which I do.

Joaquin Niemann +4000 (BetMGM)

I believe Joaquin Niemann is one of the best players in the world. He has three worldwide wins since December and has continued to improve over the course of his impressive career thus far. Still only 25, the Chilean has all the tools to be a serious contender in major championships for years to come.

Niemann has been the best player on LIV this season. Plenty will argue with the format or source of the money on LIV, but no one can argue that beating players such as Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith is an unremarkable achievement. Niemann is an elite driver of the golf ball who hits it farther than just about anyone in the field not named Bryson DeChambeau or (arguably) Rory McIlroy.

Niemann is another player who has been fantastic throughout his career on Bentgrass greens. Prior to leaving the PGA Tour, Bentgrass was the only green surface in which Joaco was a positive putter. It’s clearly a surface that he is very comfortable putting on and should fare around and on the greens this week.

Niemann is a perfect fit for Valhalla. His low and penetrating ball flight will get him plenty of runout this week on the fairways and he should have shorter shots into the green complexes than his competitors. To this point in his career, the former top ranked amateur in the world (2018) has been underwhelming in major championships, but I don’t believe that will last much longer. Joaquin Niemann is a major championship caliber player and has a real chance to contend this week at Valhalla.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What really makes a wedge work? Part 2

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In my last post, I explained the basic performance dynamics of “smash factor” and “gear effect” as they apply to your wedges and your wedge play success. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

At the end of that post, I promised “part 2” of this discussion of what makes a wedge work the way it does. So, let’s dive into the other two components of any wedge – the shaft and the grip.

It’s long been said that the shaft is “the engine of the golf club.” The shaft (and grip) are your only connection to all the technologies that are packed into the head of any golf club, whether it be a driver, fairway, hybrid, iron, wedge or even putter.

And you cannot ignore those two components of your wedges if your goal is optimizing your performance.

I’ve long been an advocate of what I call a “seamless transition” from your irons into your wedges, so that the feel and performance do not disconnect when you choose a gap wedge, for example, instead of your iron-set-matching “P-club.” In today’s golf equipment marketplace, more and more golfers are making the investment of time and money to experience an iron fitting, going through trial and error and launch monitor measuring to get just the right shaft in their irons.

But then so many of those same golfers just go into a store and choose wedges off the retail display, with no similar science involved at all. And that’s why I see so many golfers with a huge disconnect between their custom-fitted irons, often with lighter and/or softer graphite or light steel shafts . . . and their off-the-rack wedges with the stock stiff steel ‘wedge flex’ shaft common to those stock offerings.

If your wedge shafts are significantly heavier and stiffer than the shafts in your irons, it is physically impossible for you to make the same swing. Period.

To quickly improve your wedge play, one of the first things you can do is have your wedges re-shafted with the same or similar shaft that is in your irons.

There’s another side of that shaft weight equation; if you don’t have the forearm and hand strength of a PGA Tour professional, you simply cannot “handle” the same weight shaft that those guys play to master the myriad of ‘touch shots’ around the greens.

Now, let’s move on to the third and other key component of your wedges – the grips. If those are not similar in shape and feel to the grips on your irons, you have another disconnect. Have your grips checked by a qualified golf club professionals to make sure you are in sync there.

The one caveat to that advice is that I am a proponent of a reduced taper in your wedge grips – putting two to four more layers of tape under the lower hand, or selecting one of the many reduced taper grips on the market. That accomplishes two goals for your scoring.

First, it helps reduce overactive hands in your full and near-full wedge swings. Quiet hands are key to good wedge shots.

And secondly, it provides a more consistent feel of the wedge in your hands as you grip down for those shorter and more delicate shots around the greens. And you should always grip down as you get into those touch shots. I call it “getting closer to your work.”

So, if you will spend as much time selecting the shafts and grips for your wedges as you do choosing the brand, model, and loft of them, your scoring range performance will get better.

More from the Wedge Guy

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Wells Fargo Championship betting preview: Tommy Fleetwood ready to finally land maiden PGA Tour title

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The PGA Tour season ramps back up this week for another “signature event,” as golf fans look forward to the year’s second major championship next week.

After two weaker-field events in the Zurich Classic and the CJ Cup Byron Nelson, most of the best players in the world will head to historic Quail Hollow for one of the best non-major tournaments of the year. 

Last season, Wyndham Clark won the event by four shots.

Quail Hollow is a par-71 measuring 7,521 yards that features Bermudagrass greens. The tree-lined, parkland style course can play quite difficult and features one of the most difficult three-hole stretches in golf known as “The Green Mile,” which makes up holes 16-18: two mammoth par 4s and a 221-yard par 3. All three holes have an average score over par, and water is in play in each of the last five holes on the course.

The field is excellent this week with 68 golfers teeing it up without a cut. All of the golfers who’ve qualified are set to tee it up, with the exception of Scottie Scheffler, who is expecting the birth of his first child. 

Past Winners at Quail Hollow

  • 2023: Wyndham Clark (-19)
  • 2022: Max Homa (-8)
  • 2021: Rory McIlroy (-10)
  • 2019: Max Homa (-15)
  • 2018: Jason Day (-12)
  • 2017: Justin Thomas (-8) (PGA Championship)
  • 2016: James Hahn (-9)
  • 2015: Rory McIlroy (-21)

Key Stats For Quail Hollow

Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes gained: Approach will be extremely important this week as second shots at Quail Hollow can be very difficult. 

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Akshay Bhatia (+1.16)
  2. Tom Hoge (+1.12)
  3. Corey Conners (+1.01)
  4. Shane Lowry (+0.93)
  5. Austin Eckroat (+0.82)

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

Quail Hollow is a long course on which it is important to play from the fairway. Both distance and accuracy are important, as shorter tee shots will result in approach shots from 200 or more yards. With most of the holes heavily tree lined, errant drives will create some real trouble for the players.

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Ludvig Aberg (+0.73)
  2. Rory McIlroy (+0.69)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+0.62)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+0.58)
  5. Chris Kirk (+0.52)

Proximity: 175-200

The 175-200 range is key at Quail Hollow. Players who can hit their long irons well will rise to the top of the leaderboard. 

Proximity: 175-200+ over past 24 rounds:

  1. Cameron Young (28’2″)
  2. Akshay Bhatia (29’6″)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+30’6″)
  4. Sam Burns (+30’6″)
  5. Collin Morikawa (+30’9″)

SG: Total on Tom Fazio Designs

Players who thrive on Tom Fazio designs get a bump for me at Quail Hollow this week. 

SG: Total on Tom Fazio Designs over past 36 rounds:

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+2.10)
  2. Rory McIlroy (+1.95)
  3. Tommy Fleetwood (+1.68)
  4. Austin Eckroat (+1.60)
  5. Will Zalatoris (+1.57)

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass)

Strokes Gained: Putting has historically graded out as the most important statistic at Quail Hollow. While it isn’t always predictable, I do want to have it in the model to bump up golfers who prefer to putt on Bermudagrass.

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass) Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Taylor Moore (+0.82)
  2. Nick Dunlap (+.76)
  3. Wyndham Clark (+.69)
  4. Emiliano Grillo (+.64)
  5. Cam Davis (+.61)

Course History

This stat will incorporate players that have played well in the past at Quail Hollow. 

Course History over past 36 rounds (per round):

  1. Rory McIlroy (+2.50)
  2. Justin Thomas (+1.96)
  3. Jason Day (+1.92)
  4. Rickie Fowler (+1.83)
  5. Viktor Hovland (+1.78)

Wells Fargo Championship Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (27%), SG: Off the Tee (23%), SG: Total on Fazio designs (12%), Proximity: 175-200 (12%), SG: Putting Bermuda grass (12%), and Course History (14%).

  1. Wyndham Clark
  2. Rory McIlroy
  3. Xander Schauffele
  4. Shane Lowry
  5. Hideki Matsuyama
  6. Viktor Hovland 
  7. Cameron Young
  8. Austin Eckroat 
  9. Byeong Hun An
  10. Justin Thomas

2024 Wells Fargo Championship Picks

Tommy Fleetwood +2500 (DraftKings)

I know many out there have Tommy fatigue when it comes to betting, which is completely understandable given his lack of ability to win on the PGA Tour thus far in his career. However, history has shown us that players with Fleetwood’s talent eventually break though, and I believe for Tommy, it’s just a matter of time.

Fleetwood has been excellent on Tom Fazio designs. Over his past 36 rounds, he ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on Fazio tracks. He’s also been incredibly reliable off the tee this season. He’s gained strokes in the category in eight of his past nine starts, including at The Masters, the PLAYERS and the three “signature events” of the season. Tommy is a golfer built for tougher courses and can grind it out in difficult conditions.

Last year, Fleetwood was the first-round leader at this event, firing a Thursday 65. He finished the event in a tie for 5th place.

For those worried about Fleetwood’s disappointing start his last time out at Harbour Town, he’s bounced back nicely after plenty of poor outings this season. His T7 at the Valero Texas Open was after a MC and T35 in his prior two starts and his win at the Dubai Invitational came after a T47 at the Sentry.

I expect Tommy to bounce back this week and contend at Quail Hollow.

Justin Thomas +3000 (DraftKings)

It’s been a rough couple of years for Justin Thomas, but I don’t believe things are quite as bad as they seem for JT. He got caught in the bad side of the draw at Augusta for last month’s Masters and has gained strokes on approach in seven of his nine starts in 2024. 

Thomas may have found something in his most recent start at the RBC Heritage. He finished T5 at a course that he isn’t the best fit for on paper. He also finally got the putter working and ranked 15th in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week.

The two-time PGA champion captured the first of his two major championships at Quail Hollow back in 2017, and some good vibes from the course may be enough to get JT out of his slump.

Thomas hasn’t won an event in just about two years. However, I still believe that will change soon as he’s been one of the most prolific winners throughout his PGA Tour career. Since 2015, he has 15 PGA Tour wins.

Course history is pretty sticky at Quail Hollow, with players who like the course playing well there on a regular basis. In addition to JT’s PGA Championship win in 2017, he went 4-1 at the 2022 Presidents Cup and finished T14 at the event last year despite being in poor form. Thomas can return as one of the top players on the PGA Tour with a win at a “signature event” this week. 

Cameron Young +3500 (DraftKings)

For many golf bettors, it’s been frustrating backing Cam Young this season. His talent is undeniable, and one of the best and most consistent performers on the PGA Tour. He just hasn’t broken through with a victory yet. Quail Hollow has been a great place for elite players to get their first victory. Rory McIlroy, Anthony Kim, Rickie Fowler and Wyndham Clark all notched their first PGA Tour win at Quail.

Throughout Cam Young’s career, he has thrived at tougher courses with strong fields. This season, he finished T16 at Riviera and T9 at Augusta National, demonstrating his preference of a tough test. His ability to hit the ball long and straight off the tee make him an ideal fit for Quail Hollow, despite playing pretty poorly his first time out in 2023 (T59). Young should be comfortable playing in the region as he played his college golf at Wake Forest, which is about an hour’s drive from Quail Hollow.

The 26-year-old has played well at Tom Fazio designs in the past and ranks 8th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on those courses in his last 36 rounds. Perhaps most importantly, this season, Young is the best player on the PGA Tour in terms of proximity from 175-200 in the fairway, which is where a plurality and many crucial shots will come from this week.

Young is an elite talent and Quail Hollow has been kind to players of his ilk who’ve yet to win on Tour.

Byeong Hun An +5000 (FanDuel)

Byeong Hun An missed some opportunities last weekend at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson. He finished T4 and played some outstanding golf, but a couple of missed short putts prevented him from getting to the winning score of -23. Despite not getting the win, it’s hard to view An’s performance as anything other than an overwhelming success. It was An’s fourth top-ten finish of the season.

Last week, An gained 6.5 strokes ball striking, which was 7th in the field. He also ranked 12th for Strokes Gained: Approach and 13th for Strokes Gained: Off the Tee. The South Korean has been hitting the ball so well from tee to green all season long and he now heads to a golf course that should reward his precision.

An’s driver and long irons are absolute weapons. At Quail Hollow, players will see plenty of approach shots from the 175-200 range as well as some from 200+. In his past 24 rounds, Ben ranks 3rd in the field in proximity from 175-200 and 12th in proximity from 200+. Playing in an event that will not end up being a “birdie” fest should help An, who can separate from the field with his strong tee to green play. The putter may not always cooperate but getting to -15 is much easier than getting to -23 for elite ball strikers who tend to struggle on the greens.

Winning a “signature event” feels like a tall task for An this week with so many elite players in the field. However, he’s finished T16 at the Genesis Invitational, T16 at The Masters and T8 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The 32-year-old’s game has improved drastically this season and I believe he’s ready to get the biggest win of his career.

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