From one boosted event to another, the TOUR returns to the States for this week's Sanderson Farms Championship.
This event got vaulted into full status last year. Meaning a full 500 FedExCup Points is up for grabs for the winner.
As a result, you do see a few bigger names show up to the Country Club of Jackson, but most of the superstars are resting after a busy end to the 2020 campaign followed by the U.S. Open at Winged Foot just a few weeks later. We should expect to see the biggest of names pop back up in Vegas.
Back to this week, we have a field of 144 golfers prepped to go in Jackson, Mississippi. As usual, the top 65 and ties will make it through the cutline to play the weekend.
The Country Club of Jackson is playing the role of host at this week's event. It's been played here since the 2014 edtiion so we have six years of course history.
A John Fought design that was opened in 2008, the superintendent describes it having a "Donald Ross look".
When the pros stroll into town they play this as a par 72 that streches up to 7,461 yards. Pretty long but there are plenty of shorter holes to blend in with the long ones.
Diving into those hole-by-hole yardages, there are three par 4s that play over 475 yards (long) but also five par 4s that play at 421 yards or shorter. The par 3s provide a good mix with two of them 181 yards or shorter while the other two are 214+ yards. As for the par 5s, none of them are great eagle opportunities but the bigger hitters can reach them in two. When Cam Champ won here two years ago he was hitting 8-iron into two of those par 5s and 4-iron/6-iron into the other two. He's obviously a distance outlier but even with those shorter clubs to attack with he didn't card a single eagle that week of his win. The field average eagle rate here is lower than the TOUR-average course.
Off the tee, golfers won't find that many fairways here (around 54%) but the field has still managed to land 69 percent of greens in regulation, over the previous six editions played at CC of Jackson.
With that GIR rate, it's no surprise great putters have a chance to excel here. They will be given a lot of looks with the flat stick. It's also no surprise that scores can get pretty low. The scoring average has been sub-69.5 in five of the six editions played here. It's one of the 10 easiest events in terms of Bogey or Worse Percentage so gamers should expect to see a relatively high amount of bogey-free bonuses this week.
For turf, golfers are back on bermudagrass and that becomes a key theme this week. Golfers love to bring up their comfort on bermuda in their interviews at CC of Jackson so that's something that we should certainly look at. The last three winners have all been from Texas so comfort in the South is something that shouldn't get overlooked.
Sifting through some past quotes, let's try to break down the course to see how it will play.
Norman Xiong: "the fairways are narrow, but you have a wide margin to miss it to where you can still hit it out of the rough onto the green or middle of the green."
Cameron Champ: "I feel like the majority of the time, though, if you’re kind of bouncing into the rough, it’s probably going to sit down, but you might get lucky sometimes where it might sit up, but I think it’s long enough to where it’s probably at least a ball and a half higher than the actual ball, maybe even two, so the majority of the time I feel like it will sit down."
Lucas Glover: "I grew up in the South, grew up on Bermuda fairways, grew up with Bermuda rough, and the greens I grew up on weren’t quite this good Bermuda, but still pretty darned good."
Brandt Snedeker: "There’s certain golf courses that me not being a long hitter I’ve got to kind of pick and choose where I play so I’m not going up against the 8-ball playing against guys that have a four-shot advantage over me before I even tee it off, and this is one of those golf courses that kind of fits right up that alley. "
Cody Gribble: "being in the South, growing up on Bermuda fairways, Bermuda greens, it’s something difficult, I think. It’s not a comfortable feeling when you’re having to hit a chip that all that grain is tight going into you. That’s something I’ve been able to learn from a young age"
Overview: Golfers talk about bermuda in terms of the juding lies out of the rough and comfort on the greens.
Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week:
TPC Summerlin (Shriners)
Coco Beach (Puerto Rico)
Riviera CC (Genesis)
Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Golfers talk about bermudagrass but the numbers link this to courses with similar hole-by-hole yardages or classical designs. You might consider Quail Hollow or Sedgefield if you wanted to play the classical, bermuda angle.
Thursday: Sunny with a high of 81 degrees. Winds at 4 to 13 MPH.
Friday: Sunny with a high of 69 degrees. Winds at 6 to 15 MPH.
Historically this event often deals with hot and humid weather conditions but golfers seemed to have caught a break this week. The temps fall in the upper 60s or low 70s for most of the week. Not bad.