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Opinion & Analysis

The Rule of 24: How to shoot low scores like a tour pro without changing anything in your game



I play a lot of golf, mostly at municipal courses, generally with average golfers who suffer from the current epidemic of LOFT (Lack of F***ng Talent). A couple of months ago, watching a pair older guys ride the struggle bus, I thought “someone’s gotta make this better.” When one of my regular playing partners called to tell me had quit, that he was done with the game, that he had other ways to torture himself, I set out to find a solution for him and everyone else who ain’t never gonna play on tour.

Unlocking a solution wasn’t easy. I thought about the question for months and months getting nowhere. And then one day I asked myself a simple question: How far does the average PGA Tour pro hit the ball? The number 300 immediately popped into my head. Next, I asked myself, how long is the average PGA tour course? 7,200 yards popped into my head. Then, I started doing some simple math in my head and stumbled on a simple key: 7,200 divides by 300 into a nice, neat number: 24. The average PGA Tour course is roughly 24 times as long as the average tour player drives the ball.

Could 24 times your driving distance be a basic anchor for how long of a course people should play? Could 24 be some sort of a key to unlocking the game?

Walking on the golf course the other day, I wondered what the rule of 24 would mean for my playing companions. First, there was Steve. He is a mid-40s investment banker who says he hits the ball 210 off the tee but really hits it about 180. He plays a course that is 6,200 yards short. His ratio? 34.4. Yikes. Then there is Patricia, his wife. She hit it about 130 and plays from 5,600—a ratio of 43! Okay folks, Dustin Johnson’s ratio is below 24, Steve’s is 34 and Patricia’s is 43. Who do you think is having more fun playing golf? No wonder the average golfer struggles, I thought, they are playing courses almost 2x the proportional length of a PGA Tour player’s course with 50 percent less power and accuracy. That ain’t nothing but crazy.

Based on that small piece of research, I decided to take the question a step further by asking a couple of more questions: How many greens in regulation does the average PGA Tour player hit vs the average 20 handicap male? The answer is approximately 12 for the PGA Tour player and one for the 20 handicaps. But why? My instincts suggested distance. I called a couple of stats people and asked a question: At what distance does the average 20 handicap man and 20 handicap women hit the green approximately 50% of the time? No one knew. So, I decided to do some really basic data collection to see what I would find. A week later and several 1,000 balls hit on the range by anyone and everyone I could round up later and measured on my launch monitor, the data suggested the distance of the 20 handicap men is approximately 110 yards and for the women, it’s 60 yards.

So how many times would a guy who hits it 180 have 110 yards on an average 6,200 golf course? Basically never. Pretty much same with the ladies hitting it from 5,600. No wonder the average 20 handicapper hits one green per round (if they are lucky)!

Armed with the data, I decided to test it with my favorite golfer—my mom. On a normal drive, my mom hits it about 135 yards. She plays to a 38 handicap. Based on my math, she should be playing a course that is about 2,430 yards. From that distance, she should hit 14 drives approximately 1,890 yards, leaving approximately 30 yards to each green on an 18 hole course.

With this math in mind, I created a 9-hole course and took her to play. The result? She hit 7 greens in regulation, had 2 birdies and 2 bogeys and shot even par. Did she have fun? Did she feel good. How did you feel the last time you shot even par? Exactly…

Since that day with my mom, I have been testing my method with others. Yesterday, I got paired with a lovely older gentleman named Michael. Michael is in his late 60s, is a lifetime golfer with a lovely swing and keenness for the game that was evident from the moment I met him.

Unfortunately, through the first 6 holes, from the senior tees, Michael failed to make anything better than double bogey and was very frustrated; his two longest shots were nowhere close to the green. On 7, I told him about the rule of 24 and asked if he would like to try it out? He agreed. I did the math. I walked him to 203 yards from the green. He hit an average driver and had about 85 yards. He pulled his 7 iron and hit a nice shot that hopped twice and ended about 18 feet from the pin. I gave him a high five and said “good par!”

“Par?” Michael asked, “Really, Brendan, I’m knocking that putt in!” Which he did. His first birdie in two years. Pretty cool.

Okay, folks, you all like to hit the big club far, but I gotta tell you something, I have yet to find someone who doesn’t prefer shooting par.

At this point, some of my math-inclined readers might be upset because they have figured out that based on my math, someone who flies it 240 would play 5,760. Immediately this might raise some eyebrows; that’s why there is another step: adding additional yardage to account that some of the holes will be par 5’s. To account for this, based on conditions, here are the additions of yardage

  • Players who drive it up to 100 yards; add up to 250 yards
  • Players who drive it between 101-225; add up to 750 yards
  • Players who drive it more than 225; add up to 1,000 yards

So do your own math or email me, and I will figure out your real average driving distance by 24 for you and tell you how long your average course should be to have the same chance at par (and fun) tour players do.

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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.



  1. Barry

    Oct 28, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    Loved it, great article. We just need course designers to incorporate additional tees to accommodate the appropriate length of course.

  2. Ian

    Oct 26, 2019 at 7:21 am

    in Germany where I live most courses are longer than 6000m (over 6500 yards) from the mens tees. So nice theorie but no chance ????

  3. Pete

    Oct 24, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    Holy cow, please re-write that first paragraph … I think you showed a LOFT and were riding the struggle bus as an author when tryIng to draw in your audience with that start. Otherwise, very interesting article.

  4. Brandon

    Oct 24, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    I like to cheat at things I’m bad at, too.

    • larrybud

      Oct 24, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      Who is to say the ratio should be linear or that the ratio should use a driver for the baseline?

      According to trackman, the average pga tour player carries a 6 iron 183 yards. If i use a 6 iron ratio, I would be playing a course 700 yards longer than if I use the “rule of 24”. Why is your method any better than mine?

      This simple example proves the ratio should not be linear.

      You can also prove this to yourself by calculating the ratio between driver and, say, 9 iron, for a pro vs your own distances.

      The pro carries his 9 iron 54% of his carry distance on driver. The slower your swing speed, the larger ratio a 9 iron is to your driver.

      BTW, the average carry distance on tour is 275.

      • larrybud

        Oct 24, 2019 at 3:52 pm

        sorry, didn’t mean to reply to you, but to the article.

  5. MarkBlack

    Oct 24, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Great article. Gets me thinking. The problem is determining a driver length average. I know, seems doable enough but I vary between 220 and 310 on the same hole and with the same wind. YES – no bueno. Am a 5 handicap.

    5 iron much more predictable.

    I feel bad for short hitters, such as many ladies. They rarely get the opportunity to have GIR, even with pretty swings. 90% of courses do not have tees for someone who drives it 150.
    For me, distance of the course has less to do with my score than focus and staying on my game plan.

    Thank you for a thought provoking article.

  6. Brad M

    Oct 24, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    I’m always curious about the “average drive” as a basis for this type of advice. Is it avg. drive in the fairway? Avg. drive that’s playable (not needing a punch-out from trees, for example)?

    I typically play 6400-6800 yards. I’m 55 years old and an 10.6 hcap, maybe I’m your target for this article, maybe I’m not. If I’m not, then you might not need to read the rest.

    Here’s my barometer for fun, enjoyable golf. If I hit a decently struck drive in the fairway (for me 260), there are few 4’s and 5’s I can’t reach in regulation (or better) with my next shots. The challenge is that sometimes that’s a 4 iron, sometimes that’s a wedge. And if I miss the fairway, I want par to less likely and to use all my skill/creativity to eke one out. I like to play all my clubs, so this challenge is one of my favorite parts of the game. Will I hit a high percentage? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But to have it be all driver/wedge would remove a significant part of the fun.

    I play one very easy course, par 71, 6570yds and wide open, very little trouble. My 78’s and 79’s there are not nearly as satisfying as my 83’s and 84’s at more challenging courses, and even some of my 89’s elsewhere are more fun than driver/wedge all day.

    Many of us play for the challenge, and going lower by shortening the course isn’t that fun. When I start holding up golfers behind me because I’m taking too long, I promise I’ll shorten things up. But playing shorter just to shoot more 70’s than 80’s isn’t my idea of having more fun with golf. I do completely agree that many should move up. But there are reasons why some of us don’t.

  7. S

    Oct 24, 2019 at 9:42 am

    This is great stuff. Good research.

  8. B-Dubbs

    Oct 24, 2019 at 6:55 am

    I like it. I’ve heard a similar thing that I like better. Take your 5 iron carry distance and multiply by 36. Carry it 150? Should play from 5400. 195? 7000 is your distance.

    • Brad M

      Oct 24, 2019 at 12:43 pm

      I think this is a better barometer, the distance variability is reduced with 5iron so you’ll have a more accurate number. This actually shows I should be playing longer than my usual 6600-6800, and I can survive at 7000, but at the moment, that’s usually too much of a grind.

  9. paul rooney

    Oct 24, 2019 at 6:09 am

    Its a great insight into driving distance and length of course, it would be interesting to have a formula for SSS or slope! or a personal slope(ability) for example:

    driving distance /2 – handicap = personal slope – slope = score

    just a thought

  10. freowho

    Oct 24, 2019 at 4:16 am

    Longleaf tee system has already done all the work. You might get sued for plagiarism!

  11. Drew

    Oct 24, 2019 at 12:11 am

    I like the rule of 24. But shouldn’t we also account for handicap. My 20+ buddie can crush a drive 300 yards no problem (1 out of 5 tries). But no way should he be playing from the tips.

  12. Bob Jones

    Oct 23, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with the rule of 24. My research several years ago produced a number of 25, but that’s close enough.

    What I do now is take the distance of my average (not best) drive, and add on the distance I carry a 7-iron. I play from the tees that give me half the par fours at that combined distance or less.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What really makes a wedge work? Part 1



Of all the clubs in our bags, wedges are almost always the simplest in construction and, therefore, the easiest to analyze what might make one work differently from another if you know what to look for.

Wedges are a lot less mysterious than drivers, of course, as the major brands are working with a lot of “pixie dust” inside these modern marvels. That’s carrying over more to irons now, with so many new models featuring internal multi-material technologies, and almost all of them having a “badge” or insert in the back to allow more complex graphics while hiding the actual distribution of mass.

But when it comes to wedges, most on the market today are still single pieces of molded steel, either cast or forged into that shape. So, if you look closely at where the mass is distributed, it’s pretty clear how that wedge is going to perform.

To start, because of their wider soles, the majority of the mass of almost any wedge is along the bottom third of the clubhead. So, the best wedge shots are always those hit between the 2nd and 5th grooves so that more mass is directly behind that impact. Elite tour professionals practice incessantly to learn to do that consistently, wearing out a spot about the size of a penny right there. If impact moves higher than that, the face is dramatically thinner, so smash factor is compromised significantly, which reduces the overall distance the ball will fly.

Every one of us, tour players included, knows that maddening shot that we feel a bit high on the face and it doesn’t go anywhere, it’s not your fault.

If your wedges show a wear pattern the size of a silver dollar, and centered above the 3rd or 4th groove, you are not getting anywhere near the same performance from shot to shot. Robot testing proves impact even two to three grooves higher in the face can cause distance loss of up to 35 to 55 feet with modern ‘tour design’ wedges.

In addition, as impact moves above the center of mass, the golf club principle of gear effect causes the ball to fly higher with less spin. Think of modern drivers for a minute. The “holy grail” of driving is high launch and low spin, and the driver engineers are pulling out all stops to get the mass as low in the clubhead as possible to optimize this combination.

Where is all the mass in your wedges? Low. So, disregarding the higher lofts, wedges “want” to launch the ball high with low spin – exactly the opposite of what good wedge play requires penetrating ball flight with high spin.

While almost all major brand wedges have begun putting a tiny bit more thickness in the top portion of the clubhead, conventional and modern ‘tour design’ wedges perform pretty much like they always have. Elite players learn to hit those crisp, spinny penetrating wedge shots by spending lots of practice time learning to consistently make contact low in the face.

So, what about grooves and face texture?

Grooves on any club can only do so much, and no one has any material advantage here. The USGA tightly defines what we manufacturers can do with grooves and face texture, and modern manufacturing techniques allow all of us to push those limits ever closer. And we all do. End of story.

Then there’s the topic of bounce and grinds, the most complex and confusing part of the wedge formula. Many top brands offer a complex array of sole configurations, all of them admittedly specialized to a particular kind of lie or turf conditions, and/or a particular divot pattern.

But if you don’t play the same turf all the time, and make the same size divot on every swing, how would you ever figure this out?

The only way is to take any wedge you are considering and play it a few rounds, hitting all the shots you face and observing the results. There’s simply no other way.

So, hopefully this will inspire a lively conversation in our comments section, and I’ll chime in to answer any questions you might have.

And next week, I’ll dive into the rest of the wedge formula. Yes, shafts, grips and specifications are essential, too.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Amazing Session with Performance Coach Savannah Meyer-Clement



In this week’s episode, we spent some time with performance coach Savannah Meyer-Clement who provides many useful insights that you’ll be able to implement on the golf course.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 RBC Heritage betting preview: Patrick Cantlay ready to get back inside winner’s circle



Just a two-hour drive from Augusta National, the PGA TOUR heads to Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Hilton Head Island is a golfer’s paradise and Harbour Town is one of the most beautiful and scenic courses on the PGA TOUR.

Harbour Town Golf Links is a par-71 that measures 7,121 yards and features Bermuda grass greens. A Pete Dye design, the course is heavily tree lined and features small greens and many dog legs, protecting it from “bomb-and-gauge” type golfers.

The field is loaded this week with 69 golfers with no cut. Last year was quite possibly the best field in RBC Heritage history and the event this week is yet another designated event, meaning there is a $20 million prize pool.

Most of the big names on the PGA Tour will be in attendance this week with the exceptions of Hideki Matsuyama and Viktor Hovland. Additionally, Webb Simpson, Shane Lowry, Gary Woodland and Kevin Kisner have been granted sponsors exemptions. 

Past Winners at Harbour Town

  • 2023: Matt Fitzpatrick (-17)
  • 2022: Jordan Spieth (-13)
  • 2021: Stewart Cink (-19)
  • 2020: Webb Simpson (-22)
  • 2019: CT Pan (-12)
  • 2018: Sotoshi Kodaira (-12)
  • 2017: Wesley Bryan (-13)
  • 2016: Branden Grace (-9)
  • 2015: Jim Furyk (-18)

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 Harbour Town

Let’s take a look at key metrics for Harbour Town Golf Links to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their past 24 rounds.

Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach is exceedingly important this week. The greens at Harbour Town are about half the size of PGA TOUR average and feature the second-smallest greens on the tour. Typical of a Pete Dye design, golfers will pay the price for missed greens.

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1.27)
  2. Tom Hoge (+1.27)
  3. Corey Conners (+1.16)
  4. Austin Eckroat (+0.95)
  5. Cameron Young (+0.93)

Good Drive %

The fairways at Harbour Town are tree lined and feature many dog legs. Bombers tend to struggle at the course because it forces layups and doesn’t allow long drivers to overpower it. Accuracy is far more important than power.

Good Drive % Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Brice Garnett (88.8%)
  2. Shane Lowry (+87.2%)
  3. Akshay Bhatia (+86.0%)
  4. Si Woo Kim (+85.8%)
  5. Sepp Straka (+85.1%)

Strokes Gained: Total at Pete Dye Designs

Pete Dye specialists tend to play very well at Harbour Town. Si Woo Kim, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Webb Simpson are all Pete Dye specialists who have had great success here. It is likely we see some more specialists near the top of the leaderboard this week.

SG: TOT Pete Dye per round over past 36 rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+2.27)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+2.24)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+2.11)
  4. Brian Harman (+1.89)
  5. Sungjae Im (+1.58)

4. Strokes Gained: Short Game (Bermuda)

Strokes Gained: Short Game factors in both around the green and putting. With many green-side bunkers and tricky green complexes, both statistics will be important. Past winners — such as Jim Furyk, Wes Bryan and Webb Simpson — highlight how crucial the short game skill set is around Harbour Town.

SG: SG Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Jordan Spieth (+1.11)
  2. Taylor Moore (+1.02)
  3. Wyndham Clark (+0.98)
  4. Mackenzie Hughes (+0.86)
  5. Andrew Putnam (+0.83)

5. Greens in Regulation %

The recipe for success at Harbour Town Golf Links is hitting fairways and greens. Missing either will prove to be consequential — golfers must be in total control of the ball to win.

Greens in Regulation % over past 24 rounds:

  1. Brice Garnett (+75.0%)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+69.9%)
  3. Corey Conners (+69.0%)
  4. Shane Lowry (+68.3%)
  5. Patrick Rodgers (+67.6%)

6. Course History

Harbour Town is a course where players who have strong past results at the course always tend to pop up. 

Course History over past 24 rounds:

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+2.34)
  2. Cam Davis (+2.05)
  3. J.T. Poston (+1.69)
  4. Justin Rose (+1.68)
  5. Tommy Fleetwood (+1.59)

The RBC Heritage Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (24%), Good Drives (20%), SG: SG (14%), SG: Pete Dye (14%), GIR (14%), and Course History (14%)

  1. Shane Lowry
  2. Russell Henley
  3. Scottie Scheffler
  4. Xander Schauffele
  5. Corey Conners 
  6. Wyndham Clark
  7. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  8. Matt Fitzpatrick
  9. Cameron Young
  10. Ludvig Aberg 

2024 RBC Heritage Picks

Patrick Cantlay +2000 (FanDuel)

With the exception of Scottie Scheffler, the PGA Tour has yet to have any of their star players show peak form during the 2024 season. Last week, Patrick Cantlay, who I believe is a top-5 players on the PGA Tour, took one step closer to regaining the form that’s helped him win eight events on Tour since 2017.

Cantlay limped into the Masters in poor form, but figured it out at Augusta National, finishing in a tie for 20th and ranking 17th for the week in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. The former FedEx Cup champion will now head to one of his favorite golf courses in Harbour Town, where he’s had immaculate results over the years. In his six trips to the course, he’s only finished worse than 7th one time. The other finishes include three third places (2017, 2019, 2023) and one runner-up finish (2022). In his past 36 rounds at Harbour Town, Cantlay ranks 1st in Strokes Gained: Total per round at the course by a wide margin (+2.36).

Cantlay is winless since the 2022 BMW Championship, which is far too long for a player of his caliber. With signs pointing to the 32-year-old returning to form, a “signature event” at Harbour Town is just what he needs to get back on the winning track.

Tommy Fleetwood +3000 (FanDuel)

I truly believe Tommy Fleetwood will figure out a way to win on American soil in 2024. It’s certainly been a bugaboo for him throughout his career, but he is simply too talented to go another season without winning a PGA Tour event.

At last week’s Masters Tournament, Fleetwood made a Sunday charge and ended up finishing T3 in the event, which was his best ever finish at The Masters. For the week, the Englishman ranked 8th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 10th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 16th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Harbour Town is a perfect layout for Fleetwood, and he’s had relative success at this Pete Dye design in the past.  In his four trips to the course, he’s finished inside of the top 25 three times, with his best finish, T10, coming in 2022. The course is pretty short and can’t be overpowered, which gives an advantage to more accurate players such as Fleetwood. Tommy ranks 8th in the field in Good Drive % and should be able to plot his way along this golf course.

The win is coming for Tommy lad. I believe there’s a chance this treasure of a golf course may be the perfect one for him to finally break through on Tour.

Cameron Young +3300 (FanDuel)

Cameron Young had a solid Masters Tournament last week, which is exactly what I’m looking for in players who I anticipate playing well this week at the RBC Heritage. He finished in a tie for 9th, but never felt the pressure of contending in the event. For the week, Young ranked 6th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 6th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Despite being one of the longest players off the tee on the PGA Tour, Young has actually played some really good golf on shorter tracks. He finished T3 at Harbour Town in 2023 and ranks 20th in the field in Good Drive% and 16th in Greens in Regulation in his past 24 rounds. He also has strong finishes at other shorter courses that can take driver out of a players hand such as Copperhead and PGA National.

Young is simply one of the best players on the PGA Tour in 2024, and I strongly believe has what it takes to win a PGA Tour event in the very near future.

Corey Conners +5500 (FanDuel)

Corey Conners has had a disappointing year thus far on the PGA Tour, but absolutely loves Harbour Town.

At last week’s Masters Tournament, the Canadian finished T30 but ranked 20th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. In his past 24 rounds, Conners ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 3rd in Greens in Regulation % and 24th in Good Drive %.

In Conners’ last four trips to Harbour Town, his worst finish was T31, last season. He finished T4 in 2021, T12 in 2022 and ranks 8th in Strokes Gained: Total at the course over his past 36 rounds.

Conners hasn’t been contending, but his recent finishes have been encouraging as he has finished in the top-25 in each of his past three starts prior to The Masters, including an impressive T13 at The PLAYERS. His recent improvement in ball striking as well as his suitability for Harbour Town makes Conners a high upside bet this week.

Shane Lowry (+7500) (FanDuel)

When these odds were posted after Lowry was announced in the field, I have to admit I was pretty stunned. Despite not offering much win equity on the PGA Tour over the last handful of years, Shane Lowry is still a top caliber player who has the ability to rise to the top of a signature event.

Lowry struggled to score at The Masters last week, but he actually hit the ball really well. The Irishman ranked 1st for Strokes Gained: Approach on the week and 7th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. As usual, it was the putter that let him down, as he ranked 60th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Harbour Town is most definitely one of Lowry’s favorite courses on the PGA Tour. In his six starts there, he’s finished in the top 10 three times, including third twice. Lowry is sensational at Pete Dye designs and ranks 7th in Strokes Gained: Total in his past 36 rounds on Dye tracks. 

Lowry is perfect for Harbour Town. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 5th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 2nd in Good Drive% and 5th in Green in Regulation %. If he figures it out on the greens, Shane could have his first win in America since 2015.

Lucas Glover +12000 (FanDuel)

This is one of my weekly “bet the number” plays as I strongly believe the odds are just too long for a player of Glover’s caliber. The odds have been too long on Glover for a few weeks now, but this is the first event that I can get behind the veteran being able to actually contend at. 

Glover is quietly playing good golf and returning to the form he had after the understandable regression after his two massive victories at the end of 2023. He finished T20 at The Masters, which was his best ever finish at Augusta National. For the week, Lucas ranked 18th for Strokes Gained: Approach and 20th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Over his past 24 rounds, Glover ranks 9th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 13th in Good Drive %. Harbour Town is a short course that the 44-year-old will be able to keep up with the top players on Tour off the tee. He’s played the course more than 20 times, with mixed results. His best finishes at Harbour Town include a T7 in 2008, but recently has a finish of T21 in 2020.

Glover has proven he can contend with the stars of the Tour on any given week, and this number is flat out disrespectful.

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