Bellerive Country Club: St. Louis, MO August 9-12, 2018
- Tees, Fairways, and Fringe around Greens: Zoysia
- Rough: Bluegrass Mix
- Greens: Creeping Bentgrass
The 100th PGA Championship will take place at historic Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri. I got to attend Media Day on June 4 thanks to Jim Mattson, broadcaster of WEEK NBC in Peoria, IL. To start the day, we got to see Justin Thomas hole out from 125 yards on 18. After the media day interviews with Thomas, and executives from the PGA, CBS, and Turner, we were allowed to play the course. We started on the 15th Hole, and were able to play 17 holes. #14 is the only one I didn't get to play, so you won't see much about that hole. I will list the scorecard yardage from the black tees and Handicap for each hole.
To see the pictures I took on each hole, click on the blue hyperlink on each hole number. If you would like the pictures to use, please message me on Twitter (@skeeterrobinson). I just ask you give me proper credit if you use the picture in any public way.
Quick Takes/Summary of Bellerive
- Not a lot of water in play. There are a lot of trees that will affect wayward tee shots. Some out of bounds but shouldn't come into play unless a golfer is extremely wild on a shot.
- Rough is extremely thick. (Click here to see picture) We were told to play ball up if we went into the rough. The picture I show is about as good as I could get, and it looks much better than it actually was. I expect it to be similar length and be penal.
- There are a ton of bunkers. When you look at the pictures, you will see that. A lot of the greenside bunkers are well below the green; 5-10 below green level. Fairway bunkers are prevalant. In his interview, Justin Thomas mentioned that Off-the-Tee would be the most important aspect to play well at Bellerive. Between the bunkers and the rough, golfers have to hit fairways.
- Greens were slow. It's been a hot and humid start to the summer in St. Louis so they are keeping them watered to keep them good to go for the tournament. I expect them to run fast come August, and wouldn't be surprised if they start losing some green come the weekend. The greens are large, with multiple tiers on most of them. Hitting the green should not be an issue: but players will have to hit right section to score well.
- The natural design of the course is for a lot of dogleg left holes. Golfers who have a natural right to left draw with their shots, will have an advantage.
Par 4, 438 Yards (Handicap 7)
A pretty straightforward hole to open, I thought it would play as one of the easier holes, so I'm surprised to see it as a 7 handicap. There are bunkers on both sides of the fairway and there is a wooded area far right. A bunker front left center will really come into play on days the pin is on the left side. A ridge starts on the right edge of that front left bunker, dividing the green in half.
Par 4, 411 Yards (Handicap 13)
One of the few holes where water comes into play, it runs up the entire left side of the hole and will swallow up any short approach shots. Justin Thomas mentioned he used driver on every hole to see how it would work, and will definitely not be using driver on this hole. So most golfers will probably use an iron on this downhill tee shot. Bunker right to catch anyone truly trying to bail out from the water. Green slopes from right to left, towards water. Bunker right of green to catch approach shots that are trying to avoid water.
Par 3, 170 Yards (Handicap 17)
Water short and right from either tee box that they use. Bunker left of green is about 5 feet below the green. I don't see any tricky hole placements. But, a pin on the far right could be scary for any golfer who ends up in that left greenside bunker, as they will be blasting towards the water.
Par 4, 521 Yards (Handicap 9)
Tee shot opens up to the right, but bunkers there to catch errant tee shots. Longer hitters may try to play a right to left shot to play through the dogleg left. There is a tree between cart path and fairway on left side that could affect the second shot, or knock down a big tee shot. 2 other trees in the same area are about 180 yards from the green. Bunkers short of green on both left and right hand side. Out of Bounds up the entire left side if tee shot is really wild. Closely-mown area as a runoff if approach shot goes deep here.
Par 4, 473 Yards (Handicap 3)
Blind Tee Shot with fairway sloping left to right. But, no bunkers or any other hazard in the fairway: a rarity at Bellreive. Bunkers again protect the green both left and right. The left greenside bunker is about 5-7 feet below the green. There is a false front on the green, and a ridge in the right-center of the green. I didn't think this would play as the second toughest hole on the front, but blind tee shot and bunkers do make it a challenge. Closely-mown area as a runoff if approach shot goes deep here.
Par 3, 214 Yards (Handicap 11)
I didn't see the back tee, but this will look like a small green from back there. It looked narrow from 135 yards; our tee box. Water short and right, but would only really see this becoming an issue if the pin is on the back right section of the green. There is a large swale/bowl in the middle third of the green to make three tiers on this green. I can see the tees playing up for the back right pin placement, with the pin in the front or middle of the green, if playing the scorecard distance of 214 yards.
Par 4, 397 Yards (Handicap 15)
My picture wasn't the best on this hole, but you can see some of the odd contours here. Uneven landing area with bunkers on both sides of the fairway, and trees on the left. Another deep bunker short of the green to catch bad approach shots. Any approach that is long and left could find the creek that runs throughout the course.
Par 5, 613 Yards (Handicap 1)
This hole was a struggle for me, so I'm glad that it was the toughest handicapped hole on the course. Dogleg left, with a bunker to catch tee shots going right for better angle. Beyond the bunker on the right is another little creek that runs alongside the entire right side of this hole. Trees on the left form the dogleg. Four bunkers (3 Left, 1 Right) protect the front of this green, and will make it extremely tough for the bombers trying to reach this in two, to run it up the narrow opening. Another runoff behind the green, about 5 feet or so below the green. I think playing this as a three shot hole, with expected fast greens, is probably going to be the prudent play here.
Par 4, 437 Yards (Handicap 5)
I liked this hole, maybe because I got a par with a good tee shot and approach. Out of Bounds left could come into play, with bunkers on the left for anyone trying to cut the slight dogleg. Approach is to an uphill, multi-tiered green. There is a false front and a bowl directly behind it. The left and right sides of the green also have their own tiers. The picture around the green I took is from the left side of the green. Bunkers short left and right, as well as deep middle. I can see some shots on the weekend, finding that back bunker, which will be a real challenging shot to a pin in the front tier.
Par 4, 508 Yards (Handicap 10)
Long, dogleg left with a bunker in left landing area. Could be out of bounds to the left. There is a creek 50 yards short of the green, but should not play a factor. Bunkers short and deep, with the front bunkers being anywhere from 7 to 10 feet below the green.
Par 4, 271-358 Yards (Handicap 14)
This could be a driveable Par 4 if the PGA wants it to play that way. Great risk/reward hole if they do. Water to the right would challenge anyone going for the green off the tee. Even iron shots off the tee could get to the water if course is playing firm. Missing left isn't bad, as the terrain slopes left to right. A tee shot going left could bounce back into the fairway. A rare hole with no bunker.
Par 4, 475 Yards (Handicap 4)
On a course with no signature hole, I found this to be my favorite view on the course (and is the cover photo). Dogleg left but only long hitters will challenge the dogleg. Bunkers on the left if dogleg is challenged. Only a one-hole break from the greenside bunkers as there are bunkers both left and right of the green. Both bunkers are well below the surface of the green.
Par 3, 184 Yards (Handicap 18)
No pictures on this hole. A pretty straight-forward Par 3 with a bunker short right and deep left of the green. The green itself slopes from back to front right.
Par 4, 410 Yards (Handicap 12)
This was the only hole we didn't play on that day. But, it has the characteristics of Bellerive summed up nicely: Dogleg left, with bunkers right to catch shots avoiding dogleg. Bunkers short right and deep left of the green.
Par 4, 495 Yards (Handicap 2)
The fairway felt narrow off the tee. Bunker is in play on the left side of the fairway. Heavy trees and OB right of the trees (Nice homes as well). Bunkers short left and right of green, as well as back right of the green. Green will slope from right to left, with ridge starting at the left-center of the short right bunker.
Par 3, 239 Yards (Handicap 16)
The picture I took here is probably the best one showing exactly how far below the green these bunkers are, on this course. Bunkers short right and left here. Out of Bounds only about 10 yards or so right of the green, will be in play off the tee at this distance. Hump on the green in right-center of the green. A little surprised to see this as the second easiest hole on the back 9.
Par 5, 603 Yards (Handicap 6)
A tricky tee shot, with bunkers and trees left, and a creek right along side the right fairway. But, a wayward tee shot right can miss the water, but rough is thick and there are trees to restrict views and shots there. Hole starts bending right fo the approch, with the creek and trees around the green to the right. Two bunkers in front of the green to catch run-up shots, and one deep left as well.
Par 4, 462 Yards (Handicap 8)
Narrow landing area off the tee, with bunkers left and right. One final dogleg left on the hole. Four greenside bunkers short of the green, with three of them to the right. Green slopes from back right to front left. A bowl in left-middle portion of the green.
Fantasy Golf Stats to Target
Justin Thomas mentioned Off-the-Tee as being most important. With the rough so high and thick, I think Accuracy will carry a little greater emphasis than Distance. Approach will be important, as always, but with the greens being so large, I don't think Greens in Regulation is as important as Proximity. With a lot of these greens having tiers, combined with the large green sizes, simply hitting a green won't be good enough. I think putting will have some importance, but I may lean towards 3-Putt Avoidance due to size and tiers of the greens. Eight of the Par 4s play between 400-500 yards, so looking at that may be helpful. With so many bunkers in the fairway and around the green, I think looking at bunker play of players has to be considered. Finally, I think -10 to -15 will be the winning score. There's trouble if a shot is not on. But, I also think there are good scoring opportunities for well played shots. Birdies or Better will be part of my stat analysis.
It was a great place to play. I don't have $120,000 to pay for the first year membership, so I'll just remember my one round at Bellerive. One other thing I noticed was that though the holes are near each other (good for viewing, as you probably can watch multiple holes from one spot), I never realized how close the next hole was. The trees probably helped give me that feeling, but I never felt crowded on the course. Bellerive will be a good, fair test of golf. Bad shots will be punished, and good shots will be rewarded, and is why I think the winning score will be in the low teens. I'm excited to get to watch a course that I got to play, and hopefully will help you and me in our fantasy golf contests.