This week, the PGA Tour will travel to Orlando Florida to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge. This is a familiar course, most notable for being completely dominated by Tiger Woods (eight wins). Bay Hill is long, with some nasty rough and if the weather gets involved, it will be absolutely no fun to play, however, it can be had in docile conditions.
The course plays as a Par-72 at 7,419 yards, with average scoring slightly above par. The fairways have not been overly difficult to hit at 67% (although this number is boosted by the number of holes that don’t require a driver), and greens in regulation (GIR) have been 63%. Although the field is left with plenty of landing space off the tee (OTT), they will still need to be careful, as Bay Hill can be cruel from the rough. Distance is still the supreme skill to have from the tee box this week but if a golfer plays more from the fairway, it will also gain an advantage, as Bay Hill is not a pure bomb and gouge track.
When you break the course down hole by hole, you can see why a golfer could attack the course with distance or accuracy. Driver is historically only used on nine of the 18 holes for a majority of the field, so although distance/inaccurate gains an advantage on these holes, taking driver away for another nine holes plays back into the shorter/accurate hitter group.
There is also a larger discrepancy between GIR % between approaches from the fairway vs. the rough as well as scoring from missed fairways vs. hit fairways. Again, all of this shows that there is a bit of a premium playing from the short stuff this week.
This is also another week where long irons (which leads to supreme iron players in general) will take precedence. Bay Hill is one of just a few courses that offer up less than potentially six approaches per round less than 150 yards, and four of those would only come if a golfer laid up on a Par 5. Holes Nos. 5 and 10 are the only two holes where a majority of the field will have approaches of under 150 yards.
Overall, there is not one single statistic which Bay Hill requires to truly separate the best from the rest, and the field will be required to play well across all facets of the game. Like most weeks, the profile will be similar, focusing on OTT and APP play the most and filtering out the worst of the short games. Based purely on the numbers, PGA National (Honda Classic) plays the most similar to Bay Hill if you’re looking for a comparison course. Both courses are the two of the most penalizing for missing fairways, have almost identical GIR numbers from the fairway and rough, and have extremely similar amounts of shots from the same approach buckets.
Below is a list of golfers who are among the top in strokes gained tee-to-green at both PGA National and Bay Hill Club and Lodge:
Bryan DeCorte, better known as Axis, is a PGA & Euro golf analyst for FTN. Axis has been deep diving golf stats for 5+ years and before joining FTN he was a part of Fantasy Golf Bag. He specializes in 72-hole match up betting and Euro Tour DFS.