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Course Spotlight: Embrace the unknown that comes with a major test at a new venue

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Course Spotlight: Embrace the unknown that comes with a major test at a new venue

    Written by Keith Stewart @KJStewartpga

    LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course sits on an amazing cross section of terrain. Bordered by Century City and the Playboy Mansion, few golf courses on the planet have such a fascinating contrast between parkland golf and reality. Designed and built in 1928 by George Thomas and William Bell, the par 70 scorecard measuring 7,421 yards was enhanced about a decade ago. The team of Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, and Geoff Shackelford were driven by one mission in their task: maintain LACC’s uniqueness.

    The North Course is a brand-new major venue. As such, watching players prepare on-site is extremely compelling from a betting perspective. No matter how hard each of the competitors grinds on the various practice areas, there is one element of this examination most are not preparing for – and that is plain old luck. It comes in two forms, but as most golfers will tell you good luck is seldom seen in USGA championships.

    The fairways on the North Course really move with the topography. LACC sits on a hillside. Several 500+ yard par-4s are ready to challenge the field of 156. The slope of these landing areas is severe. It will propel balls to a common area. I can see balls funneling into the rough, or sometimes not. What happens when one player’s ball rolls into a divot and another competitor’s ball sits up in the fairway.

    Situations like these seem to randomly differentiate the field, but I don’t believe that separation is arbitrary. Players can prepare for bad luck by controlling their emotions, practicing the physical skills, and embracing a more creative approach.

    Scottie Scheffler’s (+600 betting favorite at BetMGM Sportsbook) impresses me with his relentless mental approach. Scheffler has faced several challenging moments with the putter this season. Yet his resolve has not wavered. When tested by the North Course his mental fortitude gives him an edge. Majors challenge the whole player, and if we tail players who share Scheffler’s mental tenacity, our weekend wagers will work out.

    Forty-four percent of approach shots on the North course will be travelling in from over 200 yards. Some will stay on the green surface, and others will roll off into the sand – if you’re lucky. Above each bunker is a collection of grasses nobody wants to play from. These bushy bogey areas are called eyebrows. Get caught in one of those lies and you won’t believe your eyes.

    • The best magician on the PGA TOUR is Jordan Spieth (+2500). Few players can make a Seve Ballesteros YouTube highlight reel look mundane. Players will face situations they have never seen before. Spieth has an incredible golf IQ. His ability to see the path to safety and confidence to pull it off is what makes him a three-time major champion.

    Thirty-six bunkers surround these greens. Bermudagrass fills the remainder of the perimeter. You’ll find it in different lengths covering various uneven surfaces. Short game acumen will create an opportunity to contend.

    • A great recovery player maintains all the skills needed to save par and move on. Denny McCarthy(+10000) is the epitome of scoring separation. McCarthy owns every shot on and around the green with the intent to lower your score. The simple practice of being great with a wedge will matter at LACC.

    McCarthy came close at the Memorial Tournament. This quote from his closing press conference is a great summation for the mental and physical approach players will need to win the U.S. Open.

    “I mean, I like hard golf courses. I like championship golf,” McCarthy said after his playoff loss. “I'm a very fierce competitor, so when the lights are the brightest and everyone's watching these elevated events and major golf championships, I love that.”

    Winning a major championship is not a linear path. Who knows what Los Angeles Country Club has in store this week. But there is one prevailing sentiment: if you can accept the good and the bad equally, I bet you can write your own Hollywood ending.

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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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