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Course Spotlight: A tale of two sides at Quail Hollow

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Course Spotlight: A tale of two sides at Quail Hollow

    Written by Keith Stewart @KJStewartpga

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Quail Hollow Club sits just outside the Queen City of Charlotte. A shrine to golf, this par-71 layout measuring 7,538 yards on the scorecard is a wonderful combination of brute strength and tender touch. The Wells Fargo Championship was played in Maryland last year because Quail Hollow was hosting the Presidents Cup but returns this week to the massive masterpiece.

    This week offers another star-studded field for a Designated event, including Rory McIlroy and Max Homa who have combined to win this event five times since 2010. Not in the field, though, are two big names that have combined to win five of the eight top-tier events in 2023: Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler. That sound you hear is a deep sigh of relief coming from the 156 players ready to tee it up at Quail Hollow in what could turn into a wide-open affair on one of the TOUR’s more distinguished venues.

    The course played firm and fast in the fall during the Presidents Cup. Recent weather in the Charlotte region has been just the opposite. Walking all 18 holes, I feel a softness in the ground. In April, there were 25 days where the high was over 65 degrees. The course just received 2.66” rain on Friday, totaling 6.5” in precipitation for the month. Quail Hollow is a long, hilly layout that will play much longer than it did seven months ago in team competition.

    The signature stretch in this Cobb/Fazio design comes in the final three holes on the card. Nos. 16, 17 and 18 are referred to as the “Green Mile.” A precise par-3 sandwiched between two incredibly difficult par-4 tests. Together they average almost one stroke over par as a group (+0.8). To put it in perspective, the Bear Trap (Honda Classic) and Snake Pit (Valspar Championship) both average +0.6 strokes over par. Those are two of the more memorable three-hole stretches on TOUR, and the closing trio at Quail Hollow blows them away.

    One mile makes a big difference, but while walking the course this week, I noticed the entire test stretches 5.2 miles in total. While most just focus on the close, I have developed a different perspective on the layout most may not have even considered. Quail Hollow can be broken up into three parts.

    1) The opening six holes are the hardest. Forget the Green Mile, these six play nearly as hard over twice the number of holes. Defined by four fierce par 4s and a monster par 3, getting off to great start is imperative to playing well at the Wells Fargo.

    2) The players can score across the middle six holes (Nos. 7 through 12). Only one hole (No. 11) sits in the top eight toughest, relative to par. Inside this stretch there are two par 5s and a short par 4. As a collection they play under par (-0.8).

    3) The course closes with a roller coaster, so hang on. I already mentioned the Green Mile, but in stark contrast to the final three holes, Nos. 14 and 15 are the two easiest on the course. Across this third of the landscape, the field averages just over par (+0.12).

    Looking at the numbers, the front nine scoring average (+0.48) is higher than the back nine (+0.30) despite the inclusion of the Green Mile. This historical data can be powerful for bettors when you put it into action. Here is a great real-world betting example:

    What is the best starting tee box for First Round Leaders? FRL bets are extremely popular. Large payouts in less than 24 hours. Based upon the layout, I would be looking for a player who starts on the 10th hole and plays in the morning. The greens will have fewer footsteps, and he will have time to get into his round prior to reaching the most difficult holes. If he makes a couple mistakes, the round will close with two of the easiest (Nos. 7 and 8) in the final three holes.

    Will Gordon and Stephan Jaeger both have great first-round scoring averages. Gordon is fifth and Jaeger ninth. They both start Thursday morning off number 10. Each has a great first round front nine scoring average (Gordon ranks third, Jager ranks 26th). BetMGM runs a FRL Top 5 market in addition to the outright option. Jaeger’s odds are +1800 and Gordon’s are +2000 to be inside the top 5 after Thursday. Both could be strong options to get out to a fast start and turn a quick profit, even if they don’t land the outright lead.

    There are more applications to using this information. With the challenging weather on Saturday predicted, look for a two-tee split start in the third round. Find players who start off No. 10. The scorecard setup from there could promote a great round and ascent up the leaderboard for players who are likely several shots off the pace.

    While everyone is focused on the finishing holes, there’s betting value to be seen by viewing Quail Hollow in its entirety.

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    Keith Stewart is a five-time award winning PGA Professional who covers the PGA TOUR and LPGA from a betting perspective. Founder of Read The Line, he is also published by Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. Follow Keith Stewart on Twitter.

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