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2024 Zurich Classic Heritage Course Preview and Breakdown for TPC Louisiana

Let's take a break from your regularly scheduled Scottie Scheffler programming where he dismantles the entire field in a stroke play event in favor of a little 2-man team competition. TPC Louisiana once again plays the host role for the 2024 Zurich Classic held in New Orleans, Louisiana. We have a relatively new golf course as 2024 will mark the 20th year for TPC Louisiana in existence. Pete Dye and his team launched the grand opening of this facility in 2004.

My goal each week is to highlight a few different angles and elements that may be less spoken about to provide some value in this course preview. With so much history to look back on through the years, both as a team event and stroke play event, we have developed a good sense of what is typically rewarded around TPC Louisiana. We are going to dive into great detail in an attempt to digest the statistical data and historical stats to create actionable info for you to utilize for building lineups and picking your teams for the Zurich Classic. Here we go!

 

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An Introduction to the Course

Opened to the public in 2004, TPC Louisiana quickly became a fixture on the PGA Tour schedule. Located just outside of New Orleans in Avondale, Louisiana, this golf course was designed by the world-famous Pete Dye, best known for his innovative and challenging course designs. The course provides a relatively restrained look into the mind of Pete Dye, who did a great job of blending the natural Louisiana native terrain with his aesthetic.

You will still catch glimpses of the bold features and risk/reward nuances that made Dye infamous, but for the most part, he relied on the natural wetlands and water to create hazards and difficulty. That said, as with any Dye course, you must think strategically and make wise decisions to conquer it. The team element of this event throws a bit of a wrinkle into the traditional Dye-course thought process, as players are more willing to take on the risk in certain situations with the understanding that they can be picked up by their partner.

The water comes into play on fewer holes than you may think. This is part of the genius of Dye. He always keeps it within sight and makes you think about the hazard, even if the impact is likely minimal. Water is on play on 8 holes. The greens are well protected by bunkers, although not overly difficult to get up and down out of. The faces are not steep but there are 106 of them total on the course to help protect some pin locations and doglegs.

One thing of note from the GCSAA, the TPC Louisiana property has seen 24" inches of rain this season, which is a ton. We saw this on the courses throughout the Florida swing, the rain has softened everything and the courses tend to have less firmness and roll this season. It's been a few weeks of dryer weather so it will be interesting to see if this still affects play. TPC Louisiana is always in fantastic shape and the team will do a great job of having this course ready to go for this unique team event!

Recent Winners:

2023: Hardy/Riley -30 : 50/1

2022: Cantlay/Schauffele -29 : 8/1

2021: Smith/Leishman -20 : 12/1

2019: Rahm/Palmer -26 : 16/1

2018: Horschel/Piercy -22 : 30-1

 

Course Specs

This course, like many in the TPC network, was designed with the intention of hosting professional golf tournaments. That was delayed slightly after opening due to Hurricane Katrina, but TPC Louisiana has now hosted a PGA Tour event every year since 2007. The course will play 7,435 yards this week as a par 72. Given the team format, players will typically adjust their strategy to take on more risk as they are fully aware that they need to get to around -25 under par to win.

All four of the par-5s are easily reachable for nearly every team in the field. The longest hole is also the final hole on the course, the 585-yard par-5 18th that bends around the water. With the 16th hole being a short, sometimes driveable par-4, we are set up for some dramatic finishes which we have routinely seen over the years at this event. The golf course is pretty straightforward which is somewhat atypical of a Pete Dye design. The majority of your emphasis in handicapping this week should be focused on and derived from understanding the team element. Here is how it works.

Thursday: Four-Ball (Best Ball)

Friday: Foursomes (Alt Shot)

Saturday: Four-Ball (Best Ball)

Sunday: Foursomes (Alt Shot)

Explanation of Four-Ball from the PGA Tour: For Four-Ball play, the players on each team will each play his own ball throughout the entirety of the round, with the best score on each hole recorded. Example: On the first hole, both golfers on each team tee off. Player A pars the hole and Player B birdies it. The team will be credited with a birdie.

Explanation of Foursomes from the PGA Tour: For Foursomes play, players will rotate tee shots. One player will hit the tee shots on all the odd-numbered holes, and the other will hit the tee shot on even-numbered holes. Example: Player A and Player B are partners. On the first hole, Player A tees off; Player B plays the second shot; Player A plays the third shot; and so on until the ball is holed. The total strokes taken will result in the team’s score for that hole.

The greens this week average just over 5,000 sq. ft in size and are Bermuda Grass with a POA Trivialis overseed. These surfaces have become commonplace amongst courses that are hosted PGA Tour tournaments in the South. This week will mark the 10th tournament this season that has been played on the POA overseeded Bermuda.

 

Statistical Considerations

Even though I would not classify this course as a Driver-heavy layout, players are absolutely going to send it on most holes, particularly during the Four-Ball sessions. I expect that the teams who will have the most success this week will effectively turn a 7,400-yard course into a pitch and putt. Therefore, I am going to look at recent approach proximity from both team members on shots inside 125 yards, both from the fairway and the rough. The fairways tend to narrow the further that you hit it off the tee, but players don't typically mind playing from the rough inside 100 yards out here.

I also think you can really simplify things by looking into recent strokes gained total numbers combined for both players. This will ultimately provide you with a list of teams that have the best form in totality. I'm less concerned with course-specific data and history, and I'm placing a heavy emphasis on their current form. In a similar mold, Greens in Regulation always emerges as a pivotal stat in the team formats because it becomes all about giving yourself as many looks at birdie or better as possible.

The greens pose some subtle challenges for players, especially is the Bermuda grass grain is more present. The breaks are generally pretty subtle and there is not a ton of undulation. We have substantial data this season that will provide you with a good understanding of which players are rolling it well. When you have to get to -25 to -30 under par, events like this become much more of a putting contest in comparison to tournaments which play to a harder difficulty.

Lastly, and this may be more of an eyeball test, but when you are presented with a scrambling opportunity you simply must get up and down. Bogeys are killers in team events and can often pile up in the alternate shot portion. You will often be put into unfamiliar positions due to an error by your partner. You want a player who is adept at scrambling and relishes situations where they can get themselves and their team out of trouble. It's going to happen, you might as well embrace it!

 

Stat Radar Plot for TPC Louisiana, via RickRunGood.com:

Best Team Course Fit Rankings for the RBC Heritage:

  1. Hoge/McNealy
  2. Cantlay/Schauffele
  3. Fitz/Fitz
  4. McIlroy/Lowry
  5. Zalatoris/Theegala
  6. Hojgaard/Hojgaard
  7. Ghim/Kim
  8. Borschel/Alexander
  9. Taylor/Hadwin
  10. Malnati/Knox

*Based on last 36 rounds of player data.

 

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