Course Preview and Picks for the 2017 BMW Championship

By September 11, 2017PGA, PGA Premium


Written by @kendoVT

The Top 70 golfers in the FedEx Cup rankings head to Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois for the BMW Championship. This is the third time Conway Farms has hosted this event but it looks like this is the first time that weather won’t be too much of a factor. In 2013 they played in very chilly, windy conditions. In 2015 they played in soft, wet conditions and played Lift, Clean, and Place during rounds 2 and 3. So Course History will only get a small amount of my attention this week. We have seen low scores here as ZJ won in 2013 with a score of -16. That same year Jim Furyk shot a 59 during the 2nd round with a bogey on his card. The average score that day was even par and there were 20+ mph winds which makes Furyk’s 59 even more impressive. In 2015 Jason Day went 61/63 in his first two rounds here in wet soggy conditions and went on to win the tournament with a score of -22. With conditions being dry and the lack of wind, I’m not sure how this course will play this week. With firmer greens and a bit more rollout on drives, I’d guess that the winning score this week could be closer to what we saw in 2013. This is a no cut event and I’d expect to see a wide range of scores from the top to the bottom of the leaderboard. When ZJ won in 2013 both Rory and DJ were 20+ strokes behind as the tournament came to a close. This course seems like a scorable course if a golfer is on his game but could also be a disaster to some golfers if their game is a bit off. Another tricky part about this week is that only the Top 30 in the FEC rankings head to East Lake. This means for more than half the field this will be their last tournament of the season. It is possible that golfers outside the Top 30 who start poorly will be in DGAF mode for the rest of the weekend. Now there really is no way to predict who will fall into this category but if you look at the golfers that are currently ranked 40-70 in the FEC, only Na, Cantlay, Reavie, Laird, RCB, Streb, and Cink have a Top 20 finish during the first two rounds of the Playoffs and Cantlay is the only one in that group with Top 20s in both Playoff events. 27/30 golfers in this range are under 8k on DK so picking value plays will be a bit more difficult in my opinion this week. Personally, I will be avoiding all golfers outside the Top 40 in the FEC rankings with poor current form even if their stats and course history line up well.

Course Preview

Conway Farms Golf Club is a 7,200 yard par 71 with four par 3s and three par 5s. The par 5s are lengthy but most of the field can reach the green in two on the two back nine par 5s, one of which is the 18th hole so we could see some drama on Sunday as golfers could score anywhere from a three to a seven on that hole. The par 5 8th hole can play over 600 yards and only the longest of hitters can reach that green in two. Three of the par 4s play under 400 yards and the par 4 7th and 15th holes could be drivable by some golfers. Three other par 4s play between 400-450 yards and five range from 450-505 yards. The design of the course seems to vary from hole to hole. Some holes have the look of a wide open Scottish links course. Other holes are so covered in trees that golfers might think that they got lost in a forest. This is normally an important aspect of the course because a big defense at Conway Farms is windy conditions. On the holes with no tree cover the wind can affect putts, approaches, and tee shots but with light winds in the forecast this could make the course play easier than it normally does. Then again, this is the first time golfers will see this course playing firm and fast on the fairways and greens so that could affect the difficulty as well. I would keep an eye on the Golf Channel as the week progresses to see what golfers are saying about the drier conditions this year and how it’s affecting the course. The fairways are wide up until a certain distance on most holes, then get more narrow as it gets closer to the green. For example, hole 3 has a wide fairway up until about 265 yards from the tee. Then there are well positioned fairway bunkers and a very tight fairway after the 265 yard mark. I think plenty of drivers will be used off the tee but there will be some who play it safe and take less than driver on a few holes.
Players that just miss off the tee will have a break because the first cut of rough is not bad. Miss wildly and golfers will be hitting out of rough 3+ inches deep. Miss the fairway in the wrong spot and some golfers might have to deal with even longer fescue grass. On approach shots golfers will see small, bentgrass, greens with a good amount of undulation and slope. The greens are fast (12.5 on the stimpmeter) and have a lot of false fronts. Many of the greens are elevated and convex in shape around the perimeter. If golfers miss their approach just by a small amount, even if they land it on the green, they will see their ball roll down one of the false fronts into a bunker, water, or way back down the fairway leaving very difficult chip shots to get up and down. Green side bunkers predominantly guard the front of the putting surfaces and if golfers miss long they will have to deal with speedy downhill chips and putts since the majority of the greens slope from back to front.

Key Stats For The Course

***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P) and Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G), which are key stats every week.

Strokes Gained: Approach (SG:A):
This looks like a second shot course to me. The average SG:A ranking for the Top 5 here in 2013/2015 for the week was 7.6. Getting as many good iron players on your roster this week will be helpful especially with the smallish greens.

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That’s it for this week. For more PGA DFS knowledge check out my Podcast. It’s called Fantasy Golf Degenerates and you can find it on iTunes. Make sure you check out the other golf DFS tools on Moose.RotoCurve including Jaebberwock’s weekly cheat sheet and the Moosenomics spreadsheet, as it is the best in the business. Also check out Moose’s new site Fantasy National Golf Course. The site has so much info and a lot of stuff you can’t find anywhere else and is currently in the beta stage. Follow me on Twitter @KendoVT for more fantasy golf info! Good luck to everyone this week and hopefully you win big!

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