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PGA DFS Hole-By-Hole Breakdown: The Genesis Invitational


Please enjoy this RotoBaller PGA Premium article free for a limited time.

Welcome to the fourth edition of the PGA DFS Hole-By-Hole Breakdown, where Josh Bennett (@JishSwish) breaks down the course the PGA Tour is playing each week. We think this course breakdown is an important slice of the "PGA DFS pie" and will help change the way you do your research for every tournament. A good understanding of the course that's being played is extremely important before diving into individual players. Each week, this article will give you everything you need to know about the course, strategies players could take, and statistics that fit the specifics of the layout.

This week's Breakdown features The Riviera Country Club for The Genesis Invitational on the PGA Tour. This will be one of the harder courses the PGA Tour lands on with five holes in the top 100 hardest holes of 2019 (relative to par), including the 5th hardest hole, and 11 holes that play even par or worse. With cut lines around even par, navigating around this tough course and keeping bogey off the card will surely be a recipe for success this week. Be sure to also read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS and betting articles to help you win big!

Editor's Note: Get our full-season PGA and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive Lineup Optimizer, DFS Tools, and weekly Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

The Riviera Country Club: Par 71, 7322 Yards

Hole 1: Par 5, 503 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.18

Difficulty: Course - 18th, 2019 PGA Events - 828th

Off the Tee: On one of the hardest courses the Tour will land on this year, they are at least nice enough to start the event out on the easiest hole on the course. It's about 75 yards downhill off the tee and as long as they stay away from the trees on the right and OB left, they'll have a good chance to get to this green in two. Long hitters may even hit fairway wood to be sure they don't carry the ball through the fairway.

Approach: Most will have a long iron into this green only protected straight down the middle by a long bunker. A miss anywhere other than that bunker will leave a relatively easy chip back to the green for a birdie look. Given the difficulty of the course, starting off the round with a birdie on this hole will be key. Green Size: 25x20 yards

Advantage: GIR, Par 5 Scoring

 

Hole 2: Par 4, 471 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.21

Difficulty: Course – 5th, 2019 PGA Events – 71st

Off the Tee: From the easiest hole on the course to one of the harder holes on Tour, this tee shot requires something straight to have a chance to get to the green. OB is left so they'll have to avoid that, which means shot patterns bring the trees into the right in play as well. Misses on either side will bring bogey or worse into play, so straight is the key here. There's another tee box behind the measured distance that they didn't use at all last year, but they can use it and make this hole even longer and more difficult if they really wanted to.

Approach: A long iron approach to a very thin green protected on the left-front side by a bunker. There are other bunkers nearby, but they likely are not in play except for bad miss-hits. The green size will basically force a target towards the middle of the green, and distance control will determine the length of the putt that's left. Fairway and green hit is good enough on this hole, but a good short game will be important for a missed green as well. Green Size: 10x30 yards

Advantage: Driving Accuracy, GIR, Scrambling

 

Hole 3: Par 4, 434 Yards

Scoring Avg: 3.98

Difficulty: Course – 12th, 2019 PGA Events – 470th

Off the Tee: This is the first tee shot where the long hitters will have an advantage, solely because the closer you are to the hole the lower your scores are. There's some trouble left, but as long as it misses that stuff the goal is to get it as close to the green as possible off the tee.

Approach: Long hitters will have wedges into this green, which will be important since there is a bunker that covers the entire front side of the green that they can almost take out of play depending on pin position. Those that come into the green from further distances will bring that bunker more into play. This should be a birdie hole with a wedge in hand. Green Size: 30x20 yards

Advantage: Driving Distance, SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring

 

Hole 4: Par 3, 236 Yards

Scoring Avg: 3.11

Difficulty: Course – 8th, 2019 PGA Events – 228th

Approach: The defense to this hole is its length. The huge bunker in the front should be far enough off the green to not matter much and the green is a decent size, so if not for being over 230 yards this hole would be pretty easy. Getting a long iron/hybrid/fairway wood on the green is good enough on this hole, and a good short game is needed for when the green is missed. Green Size: 25x25 Yards

Advantage: GIR, Scrambling

 

Hole 5: Par 4, 434 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.08

Difficulty: Course – 9th, 2019 PGA Events – 293rd

Off the Tee: The tournament plays around with the tee boxes on this hole, but how it's played shouldn't differ much from either spot. The tee box towards the top of the image was used in the final round in 2019, but the scorecard distance measures to the tee box further back and left in the image, and they will use both again. Long hitters will again have to be careful to not out-run the fairway, otherwise, there's enough room on either side to miss and still have a shot at the green as long as it's not an extreme miss right and into the houses.

Approach: A short approach, likely a pitching wedge or 9 iron for the field, to a green that isn't protected by anything. Good approach play should give up plenty of birdies on this hole assuming their tee shot didn't end up in someone's pool. Green Size: 25x25 Yards

Advantage: SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring

 

Hole 6: Par 3, 199 Yards

Scoring Avg: 3

Difficulty: Course – 11th, 2019 PGA Events – 435th

Approach: Another long par 3, but this one has more trouble than the last. It's a two-tiered green, the upper level is in the back and it has a bunker in the dead center of the green. There are also bunkers in the front, left, and back of the green. They have to keep it out of all of those bunkers, on the right level of the green AND on the right side of the green to have any chance on this hole, which is quite difficult coming in from 200 yards away. We might be lucky enough to see some really bad misses that will require these guys to attempt to putt around or chip over the bunker from the putting surface. Par is a good score here. Green Size: 30x25 Yards

Advantage: GIR, Scrambling

 

Hole 7: Par 4, 408 Yards

Scoring Avg: 3.97

Difficulty: Course – 14th, 2019 PGA Events – 486th

Off the Tee: This is the first tee shot that we will see a lot of the players laying up off the tee. The fairway is narrow, the bunker is large, and anything right of the few trees is actually in more trouble than it looks in the images. We should see most of the guys hit something into the large part of the fairway just short of the bunker and still have a wedge into the green.

Approach: A preferred wedge distance after the tee shot to another thin green. It's protected on the right side by a bunker from their viewpoint, but should not be much in play with wedges. There should be a lot of scoring on this hole. Green Size: 15x30 Yards

Advantage: SG: Approach, Proximity to Hole, Par 4 Scoring

 

Hole 8: Par 4, 433 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.22

Difficulty: Course – 4th, 2019 PGA Events – 70th

Off the Tee: This tee shot is probably the most interesting tee shot on the course. There are three options off the tee here, all of which will leave short irons or wedges into the green. One option is for long hitters to go directly over all of the fairway bunkers, which will require about a 300-yard carry. The next option is to lay up off the tee just short of the left fairway bunker, which will still leave a short iron to the green. The third option is to go directly down the right side to a separate fairway, which looks a little more safe from bunkers but will bring OB right into play. Pin placement may play a factor in the choice here as well. No matter the choice, the ball has to be in one of the two fairways to have a shot at scoring on this hole, which is easier said than done, given that this is one of the hardest holes relative to par on the tour.

Approach: There's no protection to this green, so as long as the fairway is hit off the tee here it should be a green light with a short iron or wedge. Green Size: 20x35 Yards

Advantage: Driving Accuracy, SG: Approach, Scrambling

 

Hole 9: Par 4, 458 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.15

Difficulty: Course – 6th, 2019 PGA Events – 143rd

Off the Tee: The tee box was moved back recently to bring the difficulty of this hole back into play, and it seems to have worked. The fairway bunker on the left is in the landing area for the average hitter now, and shorter hitters are at risk of running it into the bunker. Being able to carry it over that bunker and take trouble out of play is an advantage on this hole. Plus, it leaves a much shorter approach into this relatively long par 4.

Approach: Most will have a middle iron into another thin green protected by bunkers in the front and left sides. Just like a few other greens we've seen already, the width will require a target towards the middle of the green and distance control will determine what's left for the putt (or chip). Par will be a good score heading into a scoring hole to start the back nine. Green Size: 15x30 Yards

Advantage: Driving Distance, Ball-Striking, GIR, Proximity to Hole

 

Hole 10: Par 4, 315 Yards

Scoring Avg: 3.77

Difficulty: Course – 16th, 2019 PGA Events – 684th

Off the Tee: This is the most fun hole on the course to watch because of how many different options there are to play it. As long as they can carry the left bunker, error left is a good play to leave a wide-open pitch back to the green. Only a perfect shot with some left-to-right spin will be able to get to and stay on the green, so the strategy here is to get in position for the pitch onto the green. Of course, we will see plenty of players lay up over the first set of bunkers and just take short wedges into the green as well.

Approach: Short games will be on display on this hole, we likely won't see anyone take a full swing on their approach shots. Bunkers are all over and surround the entire green except for the left side. We will see many drives in those bunkers, and probably some approaches as well because of how small the green is. There's not much room for error unless they're coming at the green from the left side. Green Size: 10x25 Yards

Advantage: Ball-Striking, SG: Around the Green, Par 4 Scoring

 

Hole 11: Par 5, 583 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.72

Difficulty: Course – 17th, 2019 PGA Events – 713th

Off the Tee: From a hole that's potentially one shot to get to the green to a hole that will be a three-shot hole to get to the green for most of the field. The landing area is extremely narrow, so accuracy will be key off this tee. However, it is a par 5 so even a miss does not take birdie out of the picture. Only the longest hitters that can hit it fairly straight will have a chance at this green in two, the rest of the field will try to knock it up as close to the green as possible for a short pitch onto the green for a birdie look.

Approach: The majority of the field will have short pitches to the green that's only protected by a bunker on the front-right side, and won't be in play for those that are taking three shots to get to the green. Long hitters may find that bunker if they can get it up close enough to the green on their long second shots. Either way, another hole where short games will be on display to rack up birdies, which will be important heading to the extremely difficult 12th hole. Green Size: 25x30 Yards

Advantage: Driving Distance, Ball-Striking, SG: Approach, SG: Around the Green, Par 5 Scoring

 

Hole 12: Par 4, 479 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.36

Difficulty: Course – 1st, 2019 PGA Events – 5th

Off the Tee: This hole is long and the tee shot has to be placed correctly to have a look at the green. OB looms left and any miss right has trees in the way, especially considering the loft of the clubs they'll have in their hands from that far away. The fairway is also narrow and it actually takes a decently long shot to even get to the start of the fairway, so laying up for accuracy isn't even an option. Long and straight is the key on this hole.

Approach: A long iron that has to carry trouble short of the green and avoid the bunker in the front of the green. We will see many approaches error long on this hole to avoid all of that stuff altogether, especially since the green gets a little larger back there as well. Once again on this back nine, short games will likely be on display, but this time it will be to save pars, not make birdies. Green Size: 25x30 Yards

Advantage: Ball-Striking, GIR, Scrambling

 

Hole 13: Par 4, 459 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.14

Difficulty: Course – 7th, 2019 PGA Events – 161st

Off the Tee: This is one of the very few holes on the course that has a right-to-left bend in it, but better-than-average length hitters will make that meaningless on this hole. The trees can be carried at about 290 yards on the left and helps cut off a bunch of the hole for a shorter approach to the green. Shorter hitters will have to be accurate and bend it to the left to get the shortest approach possible.

Approach: Bombers may be able to cut off enough to get short irons to this green, the rest will have mid irons to an unprotected green that is one of the larger greens on the course. As long as there's a look at the green, this should be a scoring hole. Green Size: 25x35 Yards

Advantage: Driving Distance, SG: Approach, Par 4 Scoring

 

Hole 14: Par 3, 192 Yards

Scoring Avg: 3.07

Difficulty: Course – 10th, 2019 PGA Events – 296th

Approach: The third long par three in a row, although shorter than the other two. This green is different than a lot of others we've seen so far. The trend so far is a thin green that requires good distance control. This green is wide so left and right misses will still be on the surface, but there's trouble with bunkers on most shots missed short left or right. As long as they find the putting surface, par should be no problem. Green Size: 40x20 Yards

Advantage: GIR

 

Hole 15: Par 4, 487 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.29

Difficulty: Course – 2nd, 2019 PGA Events – 20th

Off the Tee: As has been the case for several par 4's on the course, bombers will have a significant advantage off this tee by being able to take the fairway bunker out of play. Average length hitters will have to avoid it to the left, which will leave very long approaches into the green. Long hitters that can get it over the bunker will just have mid irons left.

Approach: It's no surprise this is one of the hardest holes on the Tour since the majority of the field is going to hit long irons, hybrids, or fairway woods into the green even on solid tee shots. What's worse, there's no area in front of the green from where the approaches will come from to run the ball up onto the green because of the green-side bunker that protects the front. We will see a lot of balls in that bunker, as well as guys choosing to fly to the green and then likely have to chip back onto the green from behind it. The bombers' advantage is they will have clubs in their hands that can get enough spin on them to keep them on the green and get looks at birdie. Green Size: 30x35 Yards

Advantage: Driving Distance, Scrambling

 

Hole 16: Par 3, 166 Yards

Scoring Avg: 2.97

Difficulty: Course – 13th, 2019 PGA Events – 473rd

Approach: Even though this is a shorter par 3, there's no room for error on this shot. If the green is missed, it's going to be in a bunker and they are deep. The green is small, so anything on the green should leave a pretty good look at birdie. Green Size: 20x20 Yards

Advantage: SG: Approach, Proximity to Hole, Par 3 Scoring

 

Hole 17: Par 5, 590 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.84

Difficulty: Course – 15th, 2019 PGA Events – 652nd

Off the Tee: This hole will play as a three-shot hole unless there's significant wind at the players' backs, so the key here is to keep it out of the "W" shaped bunker so that there's no stress in the setup shot.

Approach: After everyone lays up to their preferred approach distance, they'll hit their wedges onto another two-tiered green. The bunker in front of the green is really only in play if the extreme bombers do try to get there in two, otherwise, the short wedges will take it mostly out of play. This will be a scoring hole for the whole field heading into the final hole of the round. Green Size: 20x40 Yards

Advantage: Ball-Striking, SG: Approach, Par 5 Scoring

 

Hole 18: Par 4, 475 Yards

Scoring Avg: 4.23

Difficulty: Course – 3rd, 2019 PGA Events – 48th

Off the Tee: Similar to the other difficult holes on this course, the length of the hole is what makes it difficult, plus any miss right makes a shot to the green almost impossible. The tee shot here is blind, which adds a little to the difficulty. Regardless, straight is obviously ideal, but if they keep it left there's at least a shot down to the green, even if it's from a long way away.

Approach: The final approach to a similar green design that we've seen so far. It's thin but it's long, so and left or right misses will not be on the green which is a likely scenario with approaches coming from over 180 yards. Short games will again be on display to finish out the round and will make for an exciting finish assuming there is a battle at the top. Green Size: 15x30 Yards

Advantage: Ball Striking, GIR, Scrambling

 

Conclusions

Although Riviera has toyed with tee box locations in order to minimize the advantage long hitters have on this course, there are still a bunch of holes where Driving Distance is a significant advantage because it takes bunkers and trees completely out of play, where shorter hitters will have to work around them.

Most of these greens are narrow, and with a lot of long approaches to the greens, there will be a lot of misses. Short games will be on display on many holes, and those that can play well around the greens will keep themselves in contention. Whether you prefer Scrambling or SG: Around-the-Green as your short game metric, you'll want to take them into account this week.

In addition to just pure distance off the tee, there are a handful of holes where the fairways are narrow and trouble isn't too far away, and in these cases leaning towards good overall Ball-Striking is a good idea. The stat takes into account both length and accuracy off the tee, and the combo of those two, of course, is deadly on any course, but will really be killer here.

Other stats to consider: Bogey Avoidance, GIR, Driving Accuracy, Approaches 175-200, Par 5 Scoring

 

Assumptions

Images and measurements were done on Google Earth. These satellite images can sometimes be up to 5 or more years old and not show very recent changes to courses if there were any.

Carry distance is used for off-the-tee distances shown in the images. The average carry distance on tour in 2019 was 281 yards, so that was the distance used here.

I used a total dispersion off-the-tee of 60 yards. This comes from an article that Jon Sherman wrote for Practical Golf (@practicalgolf) discussing average dispersion, and I took 5-10 yards off from that number.

I assumed a 10-15 yard roll out from the carry distance to start the measurement to the green. Measurements to the green were rounded to the nearest 5 yards and measured from the center of the fairway to the center of the green.

Green measurements were also measured to the nearest 5 yards.

Things like weather, large elevation changes, rough length, etc. are not taken into consideration on the measurements. I can only see and assume so much from satellite images. However, I do note where possible on each hole if things like elevation and wind could impact how the hole plays.

Scorecard:

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