After a thrilling finish to the U.S. Open, the PGA Tour returns to our regularly schedule program. Professional golf makes a quick trip south from Boston for the 2022 Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT. As always, here is your early deep-dive on the 2022 Travelers Championship and a preview for how to bet. In addition, listen below to the Golf Gambling Podcast for more information about golf betting.
2022 Travelers Championship Preview – The Golf Course
For years this tournament was known as the Greater Hartford Open, first played in 1952 at Weathersfield Country Club. In the 1980s, the PGA Tour bought the former Edgewood Country Club and rebranded it as part of their TPC golf course network. They brought in the legendary Pete Dye to rebuild the golf course and dubbed it TPC Connecticut. The tournament has been played there ever since.
In 1989, the golf course underwent a major renovation spearheaded by Pete Dye’s disciple Bobby Weed. PGA pros Howard Twitty and Roger Maltbie also consulted on the project. Though the thought of improving upon a Pete Dye golf course is hard to fathom, they managed to do so. Their newest design took the Back Nine down a valley near the train tracks that run alongside the Connecticut River. The renovation was completed in 1990, and the golf course was renamed TPC River Highlands.
There are some slight resemblances to the typical Pete Dye golf course experience. Its similarities include the bottlenecking of the fairways, inconveniently placed bunkers, and green complexes angled away from the directional path of the hole. But most of the Pete Dye of the golf course was taken out of it post-renovation. While Bobby Weed is a Dye disciple, it’s not a true Dye. In fact, most of the holes Dye designed aren’t even there now. They’re mostly in someone’s basement in one of the subdivision houses.
To be blunt, the front nine at TPC River Highlands isn’t anything to write home about. There isn’t much trickery over the first nine holes. Everything is almost all out in front of the player, and besides the 2nd hole, there is very little elevation change tee-to-green. It’s a fairly boring stretch of holes.
There’s also not a lot of wow factor on the first half of the Front Nine. There are a few interesting and challenging holes, like the downhill Par 3 11th. The Par 5 13th that features water hazards right of the fairway and left of the green also can be quite challenging. But overall, holes 10-14 look very similar to holes seen every week on the PGA Tour.
However, things heat up on the back half of the Back None. The Travelers Championship has the reputation of producing very exciting finishes to their tournaments, and the stretch from 15-18 is the reason why:
This stretch of holes is one of the best viewing spots for anyone who does not own a home on one of the fairways. The best place to be is to the right of the 16th green, as the spectator can watch the players play the exciting and drivable Par 4 15th, the Par 3 16th over the water, and the 17th that features a forced carry over same said water and a green with a false front. Here is where the tournament usually tightens up, either with a player getting red hot over this stretch or someone who makes a mess of these holes.
18th Hole – 444 Yards
While the design of the hole is nothing special, it’s the huge fan base that sits in an amphitheater setting that makes this hole memorable. Hartford has some of the best fans on the PGA Tour, and the whole community treats this event as if the Whalers have been resurrected. As someone who also lives in a minor league sports town, I can totally relate to how passionate they are about their tournament. Whenever a huge sporting event comes into town, it dominates the headlines and creates a buzz in the city. And as shown back in 2017, they can get pretty excited around that 18th green.
2022 Travelers Championship Preview – Betting Strategies
For the first time in a few weeks, gamblers have access to a wealth of data and course history. It makes it much easier to handicap and preview how the 2022 Travelers Championship will go.
To start, let’s begin with the relative skillset chart (per DataGolf):
What’s clear from this chart is that there is very little rhyme or reason how leaderboards at the Travelers Championship are constructed. There is a below average correlation in driving distance, approach play, scrambling and putting. It seems like players of all walks of life in these five categories are capable of good finishes at the Travelers Championship.
However, the one thing that there’s a strong correlation is driving accuracy. In most years, players who typically have strong control over their tee shots tend to do well at TPC River Highlands. And for good reason. Of all the annual stops on the PGA Tour (excluding one off places like Shadow Creek or Sherwood Country Club), TPC River Highlands is the 5th most penal golf course to miss a fairway at. While the fairways aren’t all that tough to hit, the penalty for missing is high. 8.1% of all tee shots that miss the fairway incur some sort of penalty stroke. That’s a very high clip.
That’s a little inconsistent given a few recent winners, however. Namely – Bubba Watson. Bubba routinely ranks poorly in driving accuracy stats. Yet, he calls himself a three-time winner at the Travelers Championship. Maybe it’s because Bubba has the unique ability to not only hit the ball a mile, but shape his tee shots in ways no one else can. He can access certain parts of the golf course no other can by bending the ball left and right at will. When he’s on, Bubba’s ability to demonstrate extreme control over the shape of his tee shots is a huge edge. Unfortunately – he seems to be a unicorn in this respect.
Next, let’s look at the approach shot distribution chart (per DataGolf):
This chart yet again shows a very clear direction for gamblers to choose. TPC River Highlands extremely tests the ability to hit approach shots under 175 yards. Considering the golf course is well under 7,000 yards, this isn’t a surprising revelation. As such, target players who excel with their approach shots less than 175 yards, with a heavier emphasis between 125-175.
Lastly, here are the Top 10 players in the field who have gained the most strokes per round at TPC River Highlands (minimum of 8 rounds):
- Rory McIlroy – 28 Rounds, +1.93/round
- Jason Day – 26 Rounds, +1.50/round
- Brendan Steele – 38 Rounds, +1.39/round
- Xander Schauffele – 10 Rounds, +1.38/round
- Kramer Hickok – 8 Rounds, +1.34/round
- Sam Burns – 12 Rounds, +1.33/round
- Patrick Cantlay – 24 Rounds, +1.31/round
- Charley Hoffman – 44 Rounds, +1.30/round
- Russell Henley – 18 Rounds, +1.26/round
- Brooks Koepka – 20 Rounds, +1.21/round
This list is a great preview of who will contend at the 2022 Travelers Championship.