It’s time for the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado and it’s going to be a real mixed bag. If you don’t believe me, take it from Zach Johnson, and I quote “Even at 7,375 yards, some players may choose to use more fairway woods off the tee than drivers. That’s OK. ” The 2013 BMW Championship at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Ill. followed up by saying “Tour players know Cherry Hills is a championship course, and we’re looking forward to seeing an old track that is still relevant today,” Johnson said. “I’ve heard that Cherry Hills won’t favor one particular type of player. You can’t take the (yardage) number on the card for what it is. That’s not necessarily how a course plays.”
You see, there isn’t really that much relevant history to work with this week as below are the Major Events that have been played here.
2012 – U.S. Amateur Championship
2005 – U.S. Women’s Open
1993 – U.S. Senior Open
1990 – U.S. Amateur
1985 – PGA Championship
1978 – U.S. Open
1976 – U.S. Senior Amateur
1960 – U.S. Open
1941 – PGA Championship
1938 – U.S. Open
* From the U.S. Amateur in 2012, it was said that the rough was super thick and the greens were beyond tricky and as fast as putting on glass.
I’ve done some searching and according to former pro Mark Wiebe, the Keys to winning this week at the BMW Championships are as follows:
With its challenging greens, Cherry Hills is considered a second-shot golf course where accurate approach shots into the tricky putting surfaces usually help separate the field and landing the ball pin high can be no bargain.
“If you are pin high on certain holes, you’re going to face big, breaking putts,” Wiebe said. “At Cherry Hills, you really want to be below the cup. Driving the ball in the fairway will be at a premium. You need to control the ball into the greens.”
Complicating this task: Fairways on Nos. 5, 9, 13, 14 and 18 will be tightened for the tournament.
Cherry Hills had been regarded for years as too short for today’s big hitters, especially at its elevation of approximately 5,400 feet. But the course was lengthened by about 300 yards during 2009 modifications by Tom Doak and is expected to play at about 7,375 yards for the BMW Championship.
Also, Cherry Hills will play as a par-70 course for the first time. Hole Nos. 5 and 18 are par 5s for members but will be designated par 4s for the tournament.
This being an interesting week and not having that much information for past history, I thought it would be best to call the golf course, so I did. In my brief conversation, they reiterated that the greens are ridiculously fast and tricky if you aren’t in the right spots and that the rough has been grown thicker. They also told me that everyones drive will be 10-15 yards longer than usual due to the thin air.
So now with all this information, I’ll pretty much conclude that I’ll be concentrating on players that can control their shots and great putters. I’ll definitely be using the PGA’s new stat ‘Strokes gained tee to green’ this week as well as strokes gained putting, green in reg., driving accuracy and proximity to the hole.
My initial thoughts on players that I like are Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Henrik Stenson, John Senden, Bill Haas, and Matt Kuchar.
I’ll be back with more information throughout the weekend and week.
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