The PGA Tour returns to action this weekend with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, played out at the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui, HI. Tough life for these guys, huh?
Golf very often feels like the fantasy game where you have to rely the most on intuition, on judging momentum and basing what feels like too much on recent results. So, let’s take a look at some stats instead: Kapalua is a beautiful course, with huge elevation changes that certainly present some unique challenges. But it also has massive fairways and huge greens that lead, routinely, to a GIR rate over 80%, often the highest rate on tour for the entire season.
On the one hand, therefore, the obvious thing would be to say that if everyone is hitting green, what you need to do is hit your putts and you’re in good shape. And while that is probably true, it is always true – so check out who is currently surging in a stat like Strokes Gained: Putting, because it can give you some insight into which players are primed to take advantage of his chances.
However, a second way to look at those kinds of stats for the course is to realize that if everyone is hitting greens, you better not be missing the boat. With that many scoring chances to be had, you better not be relying on consistently drilling 15-foot+ putts to keep up. Sure, you have to hit them, but the best chance you’re going to have here is leaving yourself the most makable putts, which you get with the most consistent iron play. You can take a look at all kinds of approach stats, but if you want to take a look at who has been dialed in in a general sense, you can check out the PGA’s Proximity to Hole and GIR %. At least these names will give you a place to start, especially if you can find some overlap. You want me to do all the work? (Hint: Graeme McDowell).