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2024 Genesis Scottish Open Course Breakdown - The Renaissance Club

As the PGA Tour summer season continues to roll along, the best players should be refreshed and energized to head across the pond in preparation for the year's final Major Championship as they are set to once again compete at the renowned Renaissance Club for the 2024 Genesis Scottish Open. The course and complex is relatively new by Scottish links standards but certainly does possess all the major components we would come to expect in links golf, including the variable scoring expectations based primarily on inclement weather.

The Genesis Scottish Open features the first and only co-sanctioned event which is held by the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour as part of a partnership that came about several years ago. The initial thought was a worthy one, as they recognized the eagerness of players to accumulate some legit links-style tournament reps leading into the Open Championship and also allows players time to acclimate best to both the conditions and the timezone changes. The tournament has a ton to offer, and I'm excited to provide an in-depth look into my notes and course breakdown for the 2024 Scottish Open

I wanted to use this piece to hopefully highlight a few different angles and elements that may be less spoken about to provide some value in this course preview. I'm hopeful that you can utilize this for building lineups and making your stat models to provide you with the best possible chances of success this week. In this course preview, we'll delve into some of the distinctive features that make Renaissance CLub unique, hoping that it will assist in your preparation for the upcoming tournament.

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An Introduction to The Renaissance Club

The main priority when The Renaissance Club was built along the coast of North Berwick, Scotland was to capitalize on the historic and picturesque setting while providing a modern, yet tasteful adaptation. The club made a rather ballsy hire when choosing a designer to accomplish their goal when they selected Michigan native Tom Doak to be the course architect on a piece of property that resides just beyond the shadows of Muirfield.

Doak's influence and portfolio is vast and revered in America, but he had not become a household name in golf course architecture in Scotland...yet. Doak once spent an entire year caddying at St. Andrews and utilized that experience to grasp an understanding of Scottish golf and how it is intended to be played. They first had to clear the land, which included removing over 8,500 tons of pine trees all the way down to the stumps. They replaced it with sand and attempted to make the subtle flow of the property appear to be as natural as possible.

Part of the reason that the committee elected to annually host the Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, and not a more historic property in Scotland, was because this club was build to host big events. It's just long enough but holds the structural integrity that you would come to expect from any Scottish Course in that it relies primarily on wind to provide the primary defense. We've yet to really see the complete impact and carnage that is possible here, but the closest we came was the 7-under par winning score in the year this tournament was won by Xander Schauffle. He's back this week in hopes of claiming another victory in North Berwick.

Scorecard:

 

Course Specs

I'll continue to harp on it, but the barometer for difficult should go hand-in-hand with the wind. The course can play pretty easy or incredibly difficult by PGA Tour standards depending on the playing conditions. You have to take this into account when handicapping the tournament. The conditions will dictate the particular player skill sets that are most rewarded. Depending on the wind direction that day, it's hard to say whether some of these holes will play easy and short or long and difficult. Rory McIlroy had to hit Driver then 2-iron into the 483-yard Par-4 finishing hole last season...and boy was it a beauty.

The fairways are average in width, but there is almost zero penalty for missing them. Last season featured players swinging away with Driver, attempting to push the ball as far down the hole as possible without fear of missing the fairway. Only 51% of fairways were hit last year by the field, making it the lowest percentage of fairways hit of any course in the 2023 season. The rough is generally kept around the 3-inch mark and it's that wirey fescue grass that doesn't cause players too much trouble, particularly since they can play the ball along the ground and the greens hold nicely given that they are so slow. Driving accuracy has almost zero advantage this week. This course likes power.

The Renaissance Club will test your long iron play, at least much more than we saw at Detroit Golf Club and TPC Deere Run. Half of the approach shots come from 175+ yards. It's a relatively easy course to scramble from around the greens. The ball sort of sits up on the fescue grass which allows the pros to hit cleanly on the back of the ball consistently, thus making shots more predictable for them.

The greens, much like you will find on most links-style courses in Scotland, are much slower than the PGA Tour average. That said, they are really tough. That has some to do with the nuances of the Doak design, but also because players aren't used to having to hit putts that hard from inside 10 ft. The greens are perched up, making them susceptible to windy conditions actually affecting the line of the putt. The primary components required by this course are driving prowess and putting on these greens.

 

Statistical Considerations

The Renaissance Club is definitely a course with unique traits that we typically do not see on the PGA Tour schedule. Golf in the United States is all about taking an aerial attack with towering shots that look like they were dropped out of drones. Links golf is meant to be played and viewed from the ground-up. Familiarity with competing on these types of golf courses is paramount to success, so I am putting a heavy emphasis on Course History; both at the Renaissance Club and recent Open Championships.

Last year, the conditions and wind were pretty benign, thus allowing players to dismantle the property Off-The-Tee. The conditions, at least at this point in the week (see below) look pretty similar. In 2023, Scottie Scheffler, Ben An, and Rory McIlroy were the top three players in Strokes gained: OTT. They all finished inside the top 3 for the week. I'll be factoring in strokes gained OTT once again because power is important on this course and there is little penalty for missing the fairway, as discussed earlier.

The par fours on the course are pretty long and are oriented in a way to makes them play more difficult with the coastal wind moving in multiple directions. The majority play somewhere in the neighborhood of 450-500 yards, with the exception of a few and hole #5 which they typically will set up as a driveable par 4. I'm looking into how players have been performing on 450-500 yard par 4's as a good measuring stick as it relates to what separates the scoring at this venue.

Lastly, you have to really putt well to win and compete here. The greens are so unusual though, I would recommend filtering in putting stats on slower greens and taking a look at lag-putting. Utilizing putting metrics specific to this course and others that we have seen at recent Open Championships will give you a better grasp of the players who are most comfortable on these slow greens and with long lag putting.

 

Approach Shot Distribution (Datagolf)

RadarPlot (Renaissance Club) vs. Avg. PGA Tour Course

 

WEATHER REPORT WED-SAT:

 

 

Good luck and enjoy the 2024 Scottish Open!

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