Course Spotlight: Finesse leads to first place at the Genesis Scottish Open
3 Min Read
Written by Keith Stewart @KJStewartpga
The Renaissance Club has seven par 4s over 440 yards in length. The three par 5s average 590 yards and three of the five par 3s are over 200 yards in length. Most preview experts are going to preach length as the priority to win the Genesis Scottish Open. I believe just the opposite. Scoring from close range is the way to separate yourself from the field in Scotland.
The PGA TOUR is all about the power game. Nobody can deny that, but contending at The Renaissance Club will take a deft touch. Tom Doak’s design features a perfect marriage between land and layout. The property in North Berwick, Scotland sits between Muirfield and the Firth of Forth. The par 70 scorecard races back and forth along the coast giving players a variety of approaches with, against, and across the breeze.
Flyover: The Renaissance Club | 2023
The weather looks troubling with plenty of rain and wind in the forecast. Last summer, Xander Schauffele won by a stroke at 7-under par. Scotland was facing drought conditions and the course was extremely firm. The field of 156 players are preparing for the exact opposite this year. Considering the plethora of long approaches, wind affected iron shots and 80 bunkers, guys are going to miss their targets.
The field average for hitting greens in regulation is well below the TOUR average. Missed targets cause players to engage around-the-green play and putting. Those two analytics are combined to give us Strokes Gained: Short Game (SG: SG). Tyrrell Hatton (+1800 BetMGM) is ranked second in the field in SG: SG. Although not quite as powerful as many of the favorites, Hatton can get the ball in the hole.
Scrambling leads to scoring. Most fans see the words short game and they immediately perceive saving par. The Renaissance Club has three par 5s and a short par 4. Wyndham Clark (+4000 BetMGM) is ranked fifth in the field for scoring par or better when he misses a green in regulation. Clark can give you both length off the tee and grace around the green. A recent major champion, his wedge play will keep him in contention.
Wyndham Clark taps in to secure first win at Wells Fargo
The bunkering around The Renaissance Club is super strategic. Even the most accurate ball strikers will find the sand. Saving their score from these sandy holes takes great skill in Scotland. A course that sits alongside the shoreline will have deep and steeply faced bunkers. Adam Scott (+5500 BetMGM) is ranked top 20 in sand saves (top 10 in SG: SG) and can preserve his round(s) with a careful sand save or two. Scott is also in great form with three top 10s in his last six starts.
Scoring in stormy conditions takes an extreme attention to detail. If I dig a little deeper, one more player stands out. Tommy Fleetwood (+2200 BetMGM) is ranked third in sand saves and bogey avoidance, 11th in scrambling, and 13th in SG: SG. In three starts at The Renaissance Club, Fleetwood has finished second, 26th and fourth. Ranked top 10 Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee, his collision of course history and skill set really catch my PGA TOUR eye. Fleetwood is also very solid with the flatstick. The average green size at The Renaissance Club is well above PGA TOUR average. Approach putting and three-putt avoidance count in the short game discussion.
When you first see a venue’s scorecard, don’t always just account for the yardage. Golf courses are like onions, they have many layers. Peeling back The Renaissance Club reveals a secret to success with the short game. Take that insight and go save your weekend wagers.
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.