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Course Spotlight: Get to know Oakdale Golf and Country Club

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Course Spotlight: Get to know Oakdale Golf and Country Club

    Written by Keith Stewart @KJStewartpga

    This week is a major championship-esque for those north of the border in Canada. For two weeks in a row, a national champion will be crowned. Although the RBC Canadian Open has been a fixture on the PGA TOUR for many years, it is different than most TOUR events. Just like our national open, the venue changes.

    Oakdale Golf and Country Club is the 37th host in the 119-year, storied history of Canada’s Open. Established in 1926, this Stanley Thompson original design is in suburban Toronto. Originally just 18-holes, the facility now boasts 27 holes and will host 11 of the top 25 players in the OWGR. The 156-player field will be competing for $9 million dollars and a first-place check of $1.62 million.

    The first step in figuring out who will win at Oakdale is determining what holes they will be using for the tournament course. Pay attention, make sure the research you follow this week understands the composite routing. Oakdale has three nines: Thompson, Knudson, and Homenuik.

    The front nine for the RBC will consist of four holes from the Thompson nine (1, 3, 8, 9) and five holes from the Homenuik nine (1, 2, 4, 8, 9). They will be played in the order I have them listed. The back nine will be the Knudson nine played in order (1-9).

    The course becomes a par 72 scorecard measuring 7,264 yards. The card contains 12 par 4s, three par 3s, and three par 5s. A unique layout to say the least, this parkland style design will test the patience of the players more than physical strength.

    There have been three architects who have worked on Oakdale: Stanley Thompson, Robbie Robinson, and Ian Andrew. Andrew’s work wrapped up in 2018. I reached out to Ian Andrew to gain his perspective on the skills needed to contend. Starting from the tee, he believes players will need accuracy over power. The fairways will be narrower than TOUR width and sit at funny angles. The rough will be lush. I believe the course will play much like the rotation at Pebble Beach or Harbour Town.

    He stressed accuracy not only off the tee, but on approach as well. The scorecard shows us seven of the 12 par 4s are under 440 yards. Players will have wedge in hand attacking the green. For you approach trackers, the 100-150 zone is the target for a majority of the iron shots in. Players won’t miss from this range and therefore proximity to the hole is better consideration than simply GIR%.

    One analytic I love is called opportunities gained. This measures a player’s ability to hit the ball inside 15 feet on approach. The five best in this field are: Ben Martin (+12500 at BetMGM Sportsbook), Cam Young (+1500), Rory McIlroy (+450), Ryan Gerard (+30000), and Kevin Roy (+50000). That looks like a great list of possible placement bets!

    Andrew also renovated St. George’s Golf and Country Club (host venue in 2022). A course he says is a good comp for Oakdale. Does that mean McIlroy can win three Canadian Opens in a row? To do so, he’ll need to make a bunch of putts inside 15 feet. I know the venue moves, but much like our U.S. Open the same tournament committee runs their national championship. Those tendencies have led to an average winning score of 17 under par over the last decade.

    Making birdies comes down to converting putts. Those who lead this field in birdies gained are: Scott Piercy (+15000), Sahith Theegala (+2800), Dylan Wu (+10000), Sam Burns (+1400), Ben Martin (+12500), and Justin Rose (+1600).

    Piercy won the Canadian Open in 2012! With so many short par 4s and three par 5s, birdie or better percentage is a critical factor as well. As Andrew also remarked, the greens have great little subtleties. Don’t be surprised if a guy in contention misses a short one on Sunday. In his estimation, the best short iron player, who is patient off the tee and possesses an opportunistic putter will win. Sounds like a solid blueprint for success.

    Oakdale is a fantastic venue. Although some may believe it doesn’t compare to Los Angeles Country Club, they better respect it. This is a national championship, and the field has not seen this course before. Much like the players, we all need to give it our full attention if we plan to win this weekend.

    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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