There’s only one more event until the first major championship of 2023. But first, the PGA Tour rolls into San Antonio for the 2023 Valero Texas Open. As always, here is your early deep dive on the 2023 Valero Texas Open and a preview of how to bet.
2023 Valero Texas Open – The Field
The field this week lacks star power. With the Masters on the horizon, most top players will take a week of rest before traveling to Augusta, GA. However, there are a few intriguing names in the field this week.
Highlighting the field at the 2023 Valero Texas Open is Rickie Fowler. Rickie failed to climb inside the Top 50 in the OWGR last week at the WGC Match Play. That was his second to last opportunity to earn an exemption into the Masters next week. He has one final shot at making the field – he must win the 2023 Valero Texas Open. If he does that, we’ll see him next week walk up to the first tee at Augusta National.
Other notables in the field include Tyrrell Hatton, Hideki Matsuyama, Si Woo Kim, Chris Kirk, Corey Conners, Keith Mitchell, and Taylor Montgomery.
For the full field, click here.
2023 Valero Texas Open – The Golf Course
TPC San Antonio boasts two 18-hole golf courses. One is the Pete Dye designed Canyons Course on the north side of the property. The other, the Oaks Course, is on the south side of the property. It was built in 2010 by Greg Norman, with Sergio Garcia consulting on the project. Soon thereafter, it became the host for the Valero Texas Open and will continue to do so in 2023.
The golf course, at its maximum, stretches to just over 7,400 yards long. It’s naturally a Bermuda golf course, but on its March date, the fairways and rough are overseeded with ryegrass. The greens are overseeded with Poa Trivialis. However, the warm February and March temperatures have begun to bring the Bermuda back from dormancy. Expect the turf to be mostly Bermuda base in 2023.
As for the golf course itself, it has its positives and negatives.
The golf course is immaculately maintained. As part of the TPC network, the golf course boasts fantastic turf conditions for its players. In addition, the golf course is not saturated with real estate eyesores like many TPC golf courses are. Golf course architect Greg Norman wanted the natural landscape to shine, and it has a much more rugged look than other TPC golf courses. The golf course staff do a wonderful job setting up great playing conditions for all golfers.
And it is located at a beautiful J.W. Marriot resort. It features top-notch amenities, including a phenomenal pool, a lazy river, and a water park. While the kids can go hang out by the pool, you (and your spouse) can get away and play a well-maintained and challenging golf course.
There are some interesting holes and features to it. The greens have some nice undulations, and the greenside bunkers have good edging. The back nine also boasts some good holes. The 11th features a centerline bunker with a fairway runout of about 300 yards. The 16th is Greg Norman’s take on the 6th at Riviera. The Par 3 has a bunker placed in the middle of the green, which makes for an inconvenient visual for the tee shot. And the 18th also features a split fairway bisected by a creek.
While it’s not one of my top golf courses on the PGA Tour, it’s a great test for the professionals. In windy conditions, it certainly can give them fits. The bunkers can also be tricky to get up and down from off the green. So long as the wind blows, birdies should come at a premium on the Oaks Course this week at the 2023 Valero Texas Open.
After the 2021 Valero Texas Open, the bunkers were fully renovated with new sand and softened edges. Here’s a video from the golf course detailing exactly what changes were made to the golf course:
2023 Valero Texas Open Preview – Betting Strategies
To begin a preview of what strategies to take when betting on the 2023 Valero Texas Open, here’s a full description of the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio and a breakdown of how it tests all facets of the game:
General Course Information
The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio plays 7,438 yards on the scorecard. It plays with a standard Par 72 setup – 10 Par 4’s, 4 Par 3’s, and 4 Par 5’s. In seven tournaments since 2015, the average score at TPC San Antonio is +0.44. Of all golf courses with at least five events since 2015, TPC San Antonio is the 12th toughest on the PGA Tour.
The property is built on the side of a hill. And most holes on the golf course either play directly uphill (south-to-north) or directly downhill (north-to-south). Only one hole (the Par 3 7th) does not play either directly uphill or downhill. Every other hole, however, plays either up the hill or down the hill.
To offset the effects of the downhill and uphill holes is the prevailing south wind. Uphill holes are aided by a tailwind, while downhill holes are impeded by a headwind. This is particularly impactful on the uphill Par 5’s that can be reachable in two with enough of a helping wind. However, should the wind flip around from the north, the uphill holes can become borderline unplayable.
Here’s more specific detail about the types of holes at TPC San Antonio, as well as their overall difficulty:
TPC San Antonio has four Par 3’s. Here are the yardages that they played in each round of the 2022 Valero Texas Open:
- Hole No. 3 (downhill): 154, 153, 175, 172
- Hole No. 7 (uphill): 193, 170, 198, 184
- Hole No. 13 (downhill): 226, 222, 249, 205
- Hole No. 16 (no slope): 179, 191, 190, 196
While Hole No. 7 travels across the hill, it technically plays uphill from the tee box. And Hole No. 16 technically plays back uphill; however, an elevated tee box neutralizes all elevation change.
Overall, the Par 3’s averaged 191 yards in length in 2022 and had a good variety of shots asked from the professionals. And since 2015, the average score on the Par 3’s at TPC San Antonio was +0.07. That is about average in terms of difficulty on the PGA Tour.
TPC San Antonio has ten Par 4’s. Here are the yardage ranges each played at the 2022 Valero Texas Open:
- < 375 Yards: 10% (4 holes)
- 375-425 Yards: 37.5% (15 holes)
- 425-475 Yards: 42.5% (17 holes)
- 475+ Yards: 10% (4 holes)
On its face, TPC San Antonio is dominated primarily by moderately lengthened Par 4’s. However, the true yardages vary based on the fairway to green elevation changes, as well as any helping or hurting wind.
Only one hole at TPC San Antonio presents a drivable Par 4 to the players. The Par 4 17th plays downhill and wasn’t more than 366 yards in last year’s Valero Texas Open. Against a stiff south wind, the ability to get the ball onto the green is a challenge. And there’s only a very small opening to the green to try and thread the needle between the greenside bunkers to get it there. But without wind and the perfect tee shot, players can find the green with their driver.
Since 2015, the Par 4’s play to a scoring average of +0.09. Of all golf courses with at least five events since 2015, the Par 4’s at TPC San Antonio play as the 10th toughest on the PGA Tour. However, their difficulty is much closer to the run-of-the-mill Par 4 on the PGA Tour than the most brutal ones on the schedule. With windy conditions, they can be a beast. But they’re not overly difficult.
However, as Kevin Na found out in 2011, the uphill Par 4 9th can be pretty, pretty difficult:
TPC San Antonio has four Par 5’s. Here are the yardage ranges each played at the 2022 Valero Texas Open:
- Hole No. 2 (downhill): 606, 587, 595, 601
- Hole No. 8 (uphill): 600, 620, 620, 594
- Hole No. 14 (downhill): 560, 571, 571, 550
- Hole No. 18 (uphill): 612, 591, 609, 599
By far, the easiest hole on the golf course is the Par 5 14th. Not only is it on the short side for a typical Par 5 on the PGA Tour, but it also plays downhill. Unless there’s a huge headwind, walking away with anything worse than a birdie is a big disappointment.
The other three aren’t quite as easy. Holes No. 2 and 8 can play well over 600 yards each, though each is either aided by a downhill direction or with a tailwind. However, the landing zone on Hole No. 2 is quite narrow and heavily guarded, with deep fairway bunkers. And any tee shots missed right on the 8th can wind up in an unplayable lie in the bramble bushes.
And as for the 18th, not only is it long and uphill, but the creek that bisects the fairway can pose some difficulties. Phil Mickelson found out the hard way how the 18th can derail your round:
All this is why, since 2015, the scoring average on the Par 5’s at TPC San Antonio is only -0.19. Of all golf courses with at least five events since 2015, they’re the toughest on the PGA Tour.
When the golf course is played in late March and one week before the Masters, the golf course is overseeded. The fairways and rough are overseeded with perennial rye and fescue, and the rough is 2.25″ long. The greens are overseeded with Poa Trivialis and run 11 on the stimpmeter.
However, the weather was particularly warm in February and March. As such, the Bermuda has begun to emerge from dormancy. This is something we’ve seen at the last few events. TPC Sawgrass, Innisbrook, and Austin Country Club all were overseeded. However, it was visually apparent that the Bermuda was emerging in the rough, and grain was seen from the naked eye on the green. As such, assume this golf course is mostly Bermuda this week.
Greg Norman was one of the best drivers in the history of professional golf. And most of his golf courses are not only driver-heavy but very difficult off-the-tee. TPC San Antonio is no exception. Of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, TPC San Antonio ranks as the 12th toughest on the PGA Tour.
The rough isn’t penal by any means at TPC San Antonio. But what makes TPC San Antonio tough off the tee is everything outside of it. The fairway bunkers are not a great place to put your tee shot in. They’re big; they’re deep; they’re awkwardly shaped. And they’re visually intimidating. And given the inability to bounce the ball up to the front of the elevated greens, trying to land the ball on the green from down in them is quite a challenge.
There are also rocks and bramble bushes outside of the rough that can cause havoc too. This, along with the fairway bunkers, is why TPC San Antonio, of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, yields the third-highest penalty for missing the fairway in non-rough areas on the PGA Tour.
While the fairways aren’t overly narrow, TPC San Antonio is not a golf course where players pepper fairways. Since 2015, the average driving accuracy of the field is 63.7%. While slightly above average than the PGA Tour standard, it’s the ninth lowest rate on the PGA Tour of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015.
TPC San Antonio is not an easy golf shot for approach shots. Of all golf courses with at least five events since 2015, it ranks as the seventh-toughest on the PGA Tour. And since 2015, the field average green in regulation percentage is only 59.5%. That’s the fifth-lowest rate of all golf courses, with at least five events since 2015.
The primary reason why approach shots are difficult is the wind and elevation changes. Accounting for wind and elevation changes can make the lives of a caddie and player difficult. But having to often account for both simultaneously can be nightmare fuel.
In addition, the greens are pretty significantly undulated, meaning that it can be difficult to get the ball close to the pin, particularly in windy conditions. In 2022, the average proximity to the hole on approach shots from the fairway was 39′ 7″. That’s almost three feet farther than the average proximity to the hole from the fairway for the entire 2021-2022 PGA Tour season.
Lastly, here were the approach shot proximity buckets from the 2022 Valero Texas Open (per DataGolf):
This chart is fairly consistent for every Valero Texas Open since 2015. There’s a higher rate of approach shots less than 125 yards and more than 250 yards than the average PGA Tour venue. Some years there are higher than average shots between 150-175 or 175-200, but never at the same time.
Overall, TPC San Antonio is fairly pedestrian around the green for PGA Tour standards. However, one area stands out in terms of difficulty – its bunkers. Like the fairway bunkers, they’re deep and awkwardly shaped. And the combination of windy conditions and the significantly undulated greens makes getting up and down from them difficult. That’s why, of all golf courses since 2015, TPC San Antonio features the 3rd toughest greenside bunkers on the PGA Tour.
As mentioned above, however, the bunkers saw significant work before the 2022 tournament. The sand was replaced with an Arkansas white sand, which provided a more compact and aesthetically pleasing playing surface from the bunker. That helps players spin the ball better from out of it. In addition, the edges of the bunkers were softened due to years of accumulation of sand on the faces and tops of them.
Did this make conditions a little easier out of the bunkers in 2022? Not really. It still played at about its average difficulty in 2022 that it had been from 2015-2021. Theoretically, however, better bunker players who have great control of spin out of them should have a leg up with this new sand versus the old sand. There’s less of a chance for plug lies in this new sand, and it allows for a better shot-making ability for the better players.
In terms of overall putting, TPC San Antonio provides about the average difficulty in comparison to the average PGA Tour stop. However, it’s one of the more difficult golf courses on putts greater than 15′. Of all golf courses with at least five events since 2015, TPC San Antonio features the sixth toughest conditions on putts over 15 feet. The significant undulations of the greens can make lag putting pretty difficult at TPC San Antonio.
There are only three water hazards in play at TPC San Antonio. However, only two holes actually bring water into play. There is a pond in front of the green on the Par 3, 3rd, and the creek that bisects the fairway on the Par 5, 18th. However, there are other areas that feature rocky terrain or bramble bushes that can also induce a penalty shot. But overall, TPC San Antonio features relatively low penalty shot rates.
Lastly, here is a skillset chart of what types of attributes tend to drive total strokes gained at each tournament at TPC San Antonio (per DataGolf): This will help preview the types of players to target at TPC San Antonio.
It’s been a mixed bag for four of the five skillsets of their contribution towards total strokes gained at TPC San Antonio year to year. For some years, performance off-the-tee was very correlated to success. Some years it wasn’t. The same can also be said for both iron play and putting. There’s been a mixed bag of contenders at TPC San Antonio who possess a different combination of these skills.
However, in most years, one’s performance around the green was highly correlated with one’s total strokes gained on the field. And it’s particularly more correlated when conditions are tougher. In years with easier scoring conditions (like 2019), it wasn’t quite as important. But in tough years like 2015, 2017, and 2018, it was very indicative of how total strokes gained were determined.
It’s interesting to note that while the golf course played under par in 2022, there was a big correlation between success at TPC San Antonio and how well one did around the green that week. Its importance rivaled 2015, where average scores were +2.5. It’s possible that the change in sand helped better bunker players separate themselves from the field that week. We’ll see if this trend holds in 2023 if conditions aren’t quite as difficult as in years past.
Follow the tips in this preview, and gamblers should put together solid betting cards and DFS lineups for the 2023 Valero Texas Open.