A Write up for the Golf Match between Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff
This will be the first time that Seminole Golf Club will ever be televised across the country. It’s a very exciting opportunity for the club and its members, I am sure just about every member will tune in. There is a podcast that was recently published by STU-POD-ITY that had Rory and Jimmy Dunne on for interviews at separate times. This could be worth a listen as they briefly talk about Seminole and its current playing characteristics. Rory chimes in around the 20 minute mark and Jimmy Dunne around the 44 minute mark respectively. The title of the podcast is The GOAT, #1, and Jimmy Dunne. Tom Brady is the first interview as well as a man he calls Sambo, a long time Seminole member whom is just about as connected as they come. Getting into the match, I believe that any time that four professional golfers play in a charity match such as this one its almost a toss-up as to who will win. I think you get great odds by taking the Underdog team, in the last three years the golf course has undergone a restoration by Core Crenshaw and I think that this course plays vastly different than the Seminole prior to 2017. In the last 3 years the amount of times Dustin Johnson has played 0-1, I have yet to see him on property and I don’t believe he has played the new course, that being said sometimes these kind of guys fly under the radar and get a May round in cause Jimmy Dunne loves his tour pros. Next on the list is Rory, his dad Gerry is a member and Gerry is on property typically 5-6 days a week cause to Gerry, “every day is a Saturday!” Rory has played the new course probably around 15-18 times. He by far has the most experience at Seminole of the four pros. Rickie Fowler is typically a guy that we just see during the Pro Member week but he does have a home in Jupiter so there’s a chance he has snuck past my eyes once or twice, let’s say his rounds played are between 4-7. And then there is Matthew Wolff, the 21-year-old rook in this competition who I’m sure is chomping at the bit for this experience. He is super unorthodox with his swing but it creates real power he is just as long as any of the other three here. Matt surprisingly has played Seminole a few times for Walker Cup team practices, he also played in the Pro Member this past year, he has seen the course 2-4 times. Based off of these insights I’d say it’s pretty fair to say that the experience is pretty much split down the middle. Also, it is worth noting that this is probably the best test of a second shot golf course players get.
The next thing I want to get into is the weather forecast. Currently 5/15 at 5:00 EST it is raining. I think they are forecasted almost 4 inches of rain between now and Saturday Evening. Forecast says it should stop storming late Saturday so maintenance should be able to get the course prepped with 12-15 hours of no rain. So, with this being said, Seminole will be playing long. The course currently measures 7300 yards and they just did some work in mid-April while things were "shutdown" in palm beach county to lengthen the tee box on 2 about 30-40 yards, and the tee on number 3 5-10 yards. There is a good chance that if they play from the new tee boxes, viewers will see freshly sodded areas which will look a bit grim. Lastly the wind. Current forecast shows the wind out of the west around 7 mph and then from south at about 7 mph about 1 hour into their round. A 7-mph wind at the nole is very manageable and should not affect golf shots more than half a club for these caliber of players. Okay, with all that being said, let’s talk about the golf course and where some skins will land.
The first hole, a short par 4 dogleg to the right with a gentle breeze off the left, a club that carries 285 will see the widest part of the fairway and also a normal wedge into the green but there’s also a chance all 4 of these guys just rip driver off the first. If that is the case there is a bunker straight through the fairway that you can see of the tee that’s just over 300 to get into and then there is water up the right that starts at about 300 as well. A good driver will leave these guys around 50-75 yards based upon the hole location. I’m hoping to see they put the pin in the back central part of this green, that makes it not an auto birdie. When you have 80 yards to the back pin you are essentially 45 yards to the front edge and then the total depth of this green is just short of 45 yards so it would be about 35 paces on. This produces an infinity style shot that is very tempting to only hit say 60 yards and leaves yourself with a 30 footer up the hill. But these guys are tour pros and hit yardages very well, with the softness a back pin should yield a birdie which could be a skin off the bat. Any hole location in the middle of the green should give up a few birdies probably offsetting.
Hole two gets 30 yards longer and these guys will be dealing with a driver and probably something as short as a 9 iron or 8 iron. The drive has bunkers on both sides of the fairway as well as water further left and further right of the fairway. The bail off the tee is short right as there is more bail out room but can leave a shot of 200+ yards in. The shot into the green plays around 8 to 10 yards uphill to an awesome Donald Ross shaped green. My guess is the play the hole front right as that is a newer hole location and not necessarily the toughest but misses short will be penalized heavily.
The third is a par 5 dogleg right, with the wind direction in from the right it will take 2 well struck shots to get home in 2 and I personally could see nobody getting home in 2 with this wind direction. Moving this tee back 5-10 yards makes it harder to cut off the dog leg which makes these guys have 260 back into the wind and 5 yards uphill for their second shots. Anything less than 250 into this green would have to be nuked off the tee. I hope to see the hole location on 3 up on the right shelf. The majority of the green is right left but it flattens out in the back and on the right. The mid right pin offers the hole to be played a variety of ways especially from a fuller yardage if someone decides to layup.
Hole four is the number one handicap, although, the wind should be help and right left a bit. Hitting the fairway here with Driver gets rewarded mightily. There is dune up the right side which can find trouble such as shoeprints and various growth. The shot into the green can be from 160-200 yards in assuming they all hit some good drives. The green has a false front that if it lands on the front edge, it should crawl back to 3-5 yards short of the green, it happens routinely in a group with members because they don’t play enough club. I hope to see the hole location front right or mid left. They are the two most confusing points on the green. Front right is tough to get close, if you somehow have a kick in for birdie on the front right pin, you executed both shots luckily. The mid left pin would be nice cause players can feed it into that location with the wind direction and green slope.
The fifth is a tough par 3 and anyone to make a 2 here truly earned it. This green is shaped like a turtle shell quite literally. Just about any shot not landed in the meat of this green about a 30-foot circle will probably find a bunker. You might think 30 feet is rather large but this is coming from a 205 yard tee with wind slightly in from the left. Any hole location that is front is pretty much saying hit it to the middle and putt back to the hole and make 3. If the pin is on the left side which has the most slope, you have the chance to make a 2 or putt it into the bunker if these greens have any sort of speed.
Hole 6 is the perfect time of the golf course for this hole. It’s merely a 410 yard par 4 for the pros, but one of these guys will make a double bogey here. The hole asks for a 270 off the tee into the widest part of the fairway and that leaves these guys a 9 iron Pw max for their approach shots. The green is probably the most well-guarded green by bunkers as you have the chance to not finish the hole due to being stuck in two bunkers. The middle-middle pin would be my choice for this hole location as 5 yards right of this pin is in a bunker and 5 yards left of this pin is in a different bunker. Any hole location on this green is tricky as it is super deceptive and there is a unique spine that runs basically the entire green on the left 1/3rd side north to south. Any putts that putt along the spine are super tricky.
Hole 7 is going to be the most basic hole on the front 9 for the boys to make a 3 on. It’s a driver or a 3 wood off the tee if they fear of hitting it 340 into the water that’s short of the green. The hole is just 440 so look to see 3 wood 9 iron into a green that can be defenseless without wind. The hardest hole location on 7 is the front left as it has the most slope and its closest to the water. We should see a few birdies on 7 that cancel out the skin.
Hole 8 is a beast! Par 3 that plays up to 280. I suspect the yardage will play a bit shorter especially if the put the pin in the hardest location of back right. This pin sits between the two bunkers right of the green and require the Rory ball flight…a 4 iron that goes as high as a driver and sits like a pitching wedge and flies 235. If the hole is cut in the front left we should see a skin as a 2 there is possible.
Hole 9 will be a 3 shot hole par 5. It should be back into the wind directly at this point during the round and I suspect everyone hits their fairway finder as the hole is 560 into the wind. The green and second shot is well guarded early in the shot and late in the shot. You might ask what I mean by this, there are palm trees around 50 yards in front of you if you hit a good drive that will be affecting the take-off flight of your shot. If you escape past the trees, you then look to carry a cross bunker that will leave yourself less than a 50 yard pitch shot into the green. I’d recommend these guys lay-up away from the bunkers to a favorite number as that shot does exist here. The green is an interesting one, the first 10 paces are severely sloped to the front edge so anything short with spin will have a good chance to 3 putt. I suspect the pin will be on the right side where there is a really awkward ridge that can shove putts back to the front of the green if misjudged in the slightest. The players can’t see it but the green is sloped from left to right for the entire middle portion.
On to the Back 9, Hole 10 is not easy. There is water that starts at about 270 off the tee on the left side. If the guys wanted to, Driver is an option but the play here is to bomb it onto the 15th hole. I know Rory knows this move but it defeats the purpose of the hole. Most guys will chase a 3 iron down the fairway and have a short iron in hand. Back right and back left are the tricky hole locations on 10 due to depth perception. I suspect back left because that brings the water more in play. Most of this green is sloped from back right to front left.
The 11th hole is a beast. 510 yard par 4, luckily downwind here. The most they should have in is 6 iron. There are a few bunkers that guard this fairway but I suspect these boys find grass even if its left off the tee where it’s very safe. This hole goes back up the same hill that number 2 goes up so it might look like a similar hole on TV even though a few bunkers are different. The second shot up the hill plays just about 10 yard up into a green that is about 45 paces deep. There is also a spine that is on the left 1/3 side that rides pretty much the entire green north to south. If the hole location on 2 is not front right, it will most likely be front right on 11. With that being said I think its front right on 2 and then somewhere on the back and left portion of this green where it’s just the high point in the green. A lot of tricky putts to that spot in the back.
Hole 12 is arguable the prettiest view in South Florida. If there is a hint of wind help, these 4 have the chance to put their drives in the green side bunker. That being said if they hit iron off this 350-yard hole, there is a bunker on the right side at 250 and water all down the left side. There are a ton of options for the players here off the tee. The shot into the green is arguable the toughest on the entire course as members will debate if this green is larger than the notoriously small golf shop. The front right location on 12 is a gem and is one of those shots where you need to have ridiculous precision on your approach shot. Bunkers surround this green entirely and I think it’s harder to attack this green from 30 yards than from 120.
The 13th hole is a par 3. The easiest of the 4. Measuring around 180, it plays uphill about 5 yards and can be confusing if there is wind. The hardest pin on the green is the front pin but I suspect they put it on the right side directly over the first bunker you can see. This is probably the only par 3 that I could see matching 2s and going on to the next hole. That being said I’ve seen my fair share of doubles on this hole due to the bunker protection you see here.
Ok 14 is the first of back to back par 5s on the back nine. Wind should be assisting off the left here and good drives will let these guys have around 200 to 180 into the green. This hole’s defense is purely the green. There are two general pin-able locations on this green. The front and the back. I hope to see this pin in the front because when these players play to the middle, it can leave the fastest putt on the golf course down this slope to the hole. Members know to hit this putt that’s a 15 foot putt, less than a foot and it usually goes 3 feet past regardless. Just a lot of slope to help defend this par 5.
The next par 5 15, plays into a split fairway that I suppose all players will play down the right side as it’s a quicker shot home in 2. I did get to watch Rory hit this tee ball where he did dump it in the water on the right as he was trying to fight a decently strong left to right wind with a draw. I will give that video to Jeff and see if he’s capable of passing that along to everyone. The second shot should be back directly into the wind making it hard to get home in 2. I suspect this hole will just get cancelled out with 4 birdies but no eagles. With that being said, I think a good prop is to say there will not be an eagle. Should be decent + money. The only hole we really have to dodge is 14 but I think the odds are in our favor unless someone cashes in from the fairway at some point. This green is not very difficult and id think they put the pin in the back left making the hole as long as possible.
Hole 16 will be played as a drivable par 4 but it is really so much more than that. In my opinion, the iconic part of a round at Seminole is the second shot into 16 when played down the fairway with a 250 yard shot and then you have about 150 in and its wind right left slightly uphill and it just asks you to hit a good demanding golf shot. If you play the hole from tee to green directly it’s about 350 and its downwind. I think they all try to smoke it over the trees. The tough pin is in the back left where the green runs back into the front left bunker. This hole is SOO good. A lot of matches at the club can change here. The green is sloped from back right to front left and it gets decently severe the closer you get to the front left bunker.
Hole 17 when you stand on this tee box you get this euphoric feeling of wow how is this round almost over but I don’t feel like I know you quite yet. It’s about a 190 yard shot into the 17th that plays a half a club down due to slope. The wind should be in the face and from the left a bit. Anything that lands right of center on this green will not stay on the green surface. I hope to see the mid left pin that’s helped out by the “Gaza strip” as we call it. It’s a walk path that leads up to the 18th tee and can help lead your ball into a very puttable spot making the green feel sometimes bigger than it looks. Id imagine a skin can be won here as I don’t expect 2 players to make 2 here.
Lastly the Home Hole, 18, from a brand new tee box into the wind will make this hole be driver 5 iron at best. I watched Emiliano Grillo hit the best 4 iron of his life into this green during the pro member. I told him I needed a 235 swing from 190 into the wind and after 17 holes I thought the guy was laying up with it. 18 should be into the wind directly for the second shot which makes the back pin I predict fairly difficult as it is just so tough to get something to the back edge into the wind. I suspect no fireworks saying nobody birdies the 18th as I think it could be one of the hardest finishing holes in Golf.
With that being said, I hope I get some of these hole locations right as it could be fun to see these guys play this course fully tricked up. If anyone has any questions for me specifically, ask Jeff the question and he will pass it along to me. This should be a really cool event.
I’d say take Fowler/Wolff with the +150. Just seems like good value