We’re one week away from the second major championship of the year. But before that, the PGA Tour gets in one final tune-up at the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch. So, as always, here’s an early preview of the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson and a preview of how to bet.
2023 AT&T Byron Nelson Preview – The Field
With an elevated event the week prior, the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson struggled to attract a strong field. But there are a few good names at the top that make this event a little top-heavy.
Headlining the event is Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler skipped the 2023 Wells Fargo Championship to give himself a much needed week off. Instead, he’ll look to prepare for the 2023 PGA Championship at TPC Craig Ranch and hopefully rekindle his putter, which has been balky as of late.
Other notables in the field include Jordan Spieth, Tyrrell Hatton, Tom Kim, Hideki Matsuyama, and Jason Day.
For the full field, click here.
2023 AT&T Byron Nelson Preview – The Golf Course
The AT&T Byron Nelson is one of the oldest tournaments on the PGA Tour. Yet it has had a very difficult time finding itself a permanent home. The tournament debuted in 1944 at Lakewood Country Club. After that, it was played at over a dozen other golf courses in the Dallas Metroplex before finding a stable home at TPC Four Seasons.
In 2018, the tournament moved once again to the Corre and Crenshaw-designed Trinity Forest. The golf course was built atop an old landfill and was a nerdy golf architect’s dream. It looked absolutely nothing like anything that had been seen on the PGA Tour. There was no rough on the golf course. It was wide. And the course was designed to play firm and fast. There was a lot of intrigue about how the PGA Tour would fare on this type of setup.
Unfortunately, the reception from the players was overwhelmingly negative (save for the Australians who liked that style of golf). Matt Kuchar was publicly vocal about his displeasure with the new golf course. And the PGA Tour, in kind, did its best to soften up the place to try and make its players happy. But after COVID canceled the tournament in 2020, tournament organizers (and the PGA Tour) took the opportunity to move it to its new home, TPC Craig Ranch:
TPC Craig Ranch opened in 2004 and was designed by Tom Weiskopf. After a very successful playing career, Weiskopf became a successful golf architect. His first course was named, appropriately, Troon Country Club in Arizona. His most notable work includes TPC Scottsdale (home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open) and a restoration of the North Course at Torrey Pines (holder of one round of the Farmers Insurance Open).
The golf course has some interesting topography. It works its way around Rowlett Creek and the surrounding ravines. There are some decent views of the creek and creek beds from tee boxes and fairways. Unfortunately, the creek doesn’t come into play all that often. It takes a big miss off the tee on 1 to find the creek. While technically, a player could take the creek on at the third hole. Most players will opt to take a safer route around the hole to take it out of play. It takes a very poor approach shot on 9 to find its way into the creek. And it doesn’t come into play at all on the Back Nine. But it does look pretty and provides some good eye candy on the golf course.
Tee-to-green, however, the golf course doesn’t offer many thrills. There’s a little bit of land movement tee-to-green to create a few uneven lies. But overall, the routing tee-to-green, as well as the bunkering, is kind of bland. That’s by design. Tom Weiskopf is known to build no-nonsense golf courses. His designs are very subtle, straightforward, and predictable. He’s even on record of saying, “We don’t build blind shots for one simple reason. Liability”.
While, like most TPC golf courses, it is in immaculate condition, it’s not a very strong offering from the PGA Tour regarding a golf venue. That might be why the PGA Tour is trying to spice the event up by recreating the 16th at TPC Scottsdale with a stadium atmosphere on the Par 3 17th. This strategy has been tried a few times at weaker events to generate buzz. But it never has been quite the same as the legendary raucous seen at the WM Phoenix Open.
2023 AT&T Byron Nelson Preview – Betting Strategies
Here is some general information about the golf course to begin betting strategies.
Golf Course Information
TPC Craig Ranch is a Par 71 and plays just a little over 7,400 yards. The par is a change from the last two AT&T Byron Nelsons, as that was played to a Par 72.
In 2023, the 12th hole will be converted into a long Par 4 and play at 493 yards. While this change will artificially make the hole tougher, the overall strategy of the hole doesn’t change. No hazards come into play by moving up a tee box that will give any PGA Tour player anxiety. The mission remains the same – hit the green in two and make a 4.
The greens average about 6,800 sq. feet in area, which is a little bigger than the PGA Tour average. The greens are bentgrass, the fairways are zoysia, and the 2.75″ rough is bermuda. Per the GCSAA, a cool and wet spring delayed the emergence of bermuda out of dormancy. As such, the rough won’t be as dense as it was in prior years.
Here’s a summary of the types of holes at TPC Craig Ranch:
- Hole No. 4 – 219 yards
- Hole No. 7 – 232 yards
- Hole No. 15 – 216 yards
- Hole No. 17 – 147 yards
If there’s an area of TPC Craig Ranch that can be considered difficult, it’s the Par 3’s. Three of the four play over 200 yards, and historically they play to a scoring average of +0.01. However, of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, the Par 3’s at TPC Craig Ranch are the sixth easiest on the PGA Tour. With water only coming into play on the 15th and fairly large landing zones, there’s not a ton of adversity on any of these holes.
- <375 yards: 11.1%
- 375-425 yards: 5.6%
- 425-475 yards: 22.2%
- 475+ yards: 22.2%
TPC Craig Ranch has a collection of fairly long Par 4’s. While the two Par 4’s under 375 yards are drivable, four of 11 Par 4’s will play over 475 yards. The conversion of the Par 5 12th to a long Par 4 helps skew these to be fairly long for PGA Tour standards.
While the change to a long Par 4 will drive up the scoring average, overall, the Par 4’s are pretty defenseless at TPC Craig Ranch. Of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, the Par 4’s at TPC Craig Ranch are the easiest on the PGA Tour. There simply isn’t any adversity on many of these holes.
- Hole No. 5: 593 yards
- Hole No. 9: 564 yards
- Hole No. 18: 552 yards
As mentioned several times, there will only be three Par 5’s at the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson. But they’ll still play pretty benign, as there isn’t much adversity in the design of any of the holes.
They’re all reachable unless someone finds themselves in a fairway bunker or faces a headwind. And of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, the Par 5’s at TPC Craig Ranch are the 3rd easiest on the PGA Tour. Only Waialae Country Club and Sedgefield Country Club have consistently played easier.
Off The Tee
As will be hammered into the reader’s head this week, there are several elements of TPC Craig Ranch that aren’t challenging. One particular area is off-the-tee. Of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, TPC Craig Ranch ranks as the 4th easiest on the PGA Tour.
There isn’t anything intimidating off the tee to either cause anxiety or force players to consider using less than a driver. TPC Craig Ranch has some of the widest fairways on the PGA Tour, and the only trouble players need to avoid is a fairway bunker. Otherwise, players can wail away with a driver pretty much all day at TPC Craig Ranch.
That’s why the average driving distance there in the last two years is just under 294 yards per drive. Of all courses with at least five tournaments, that’s the 4th longest rate.
There is some moderate penalty for missing a fairway. While hitting it into the rough doesn’t yield much of a penalty, hitting it into a fairway bunker does.
Of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, TPC Craig Ranch features the fifth-highest difference in scoring between shots that hit the fairway and shots that find a non-rough area. Basically, finding a fairway bunker off the tee pretty much takes birdie off the table, especially on the Par 4’s. But with almost 70% driving accuracy rates, that’s a rare occurrence.
Once again, approach shots at TPC Craig Ranch are very easy. Of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, TPC Craig Ranch features the second easiest approach shots on the PGA Tour. This is because the greens are fairly big. There’s not a ton of undulation on them. As a result, they run slow on the stimpmeter. And players are normally hitting from the fairway. That’s a recipe for some pretty benign approach shots.
Here’s the approach shot distribution from 2022 of where players will hit approach shots from (per DataGolf):
- <100 yards: 7.5% (~1.5 shots per round)
- 100-125 yards: 7.0% (~1.25 shots per round)
- 125-150 yards: 17.2% (~3 shots per round)
- 150-175 yards: 16.6% (~3 shots per round)
- 175-200 yards: 16.7% (~3 shots per round)
- 200-225 yards: 15.6% (~3 shots per round)
- 225+ yards: (~3.5 shots per round)
Almost every shot from over 200 yards will be either from three of the four Par 3’s, three Par 5’s and probably the newly converted Par 4 12th. Otherwise, most of the Par 4 shots are fairly evenly distributed from 125-200 yards.
From a proximity standpoint, gamblers should focus their proximity stats from 125-200 yards to cover most approach shots into the Par 4’s. They can then utilize Par 3 scoring on holes>200 yards to cover performance on long Par 3’s. And then they can throw in Par 5 scoring to cover themselves on the Par 5’s, as these aren’t difficult and don’t favor any particular skill set.
Around the Green
Once again, there’s little adversity around the green at TPC Craig Ranch. Of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, TPC Craig Ranch features the easiest conditions around the green on the PGA Tour. This includes the easiest conditions to scramble from off the fairway. With flat greens, players can easily putt or ship back onto the green to keep it close to the hole.
Of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, TPC Craig Ranch also features the 5th least penal rough and 6th least penal bunkers around the green. Again, the combination of flat and slow greens makes getting up and down not all that difficult of a task at TPC Craig Ranch.
Finally, of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, TPC Craig Ranch has the 4th easiest greens to putt on. The combination of flat, slow, and bentgrass greens makes putting on them pretty easy. Furthermore, of all golf courses with at least five tournaments since 2015, it features the 7th easiest for putts under 5 feet, 6th easiest from 5-15 feet and 2nd easiest from over 15 feet.
In the 2021-2022 season, 3% of all holes featured a three-putt on the PGA Tour. However, at the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson, only 2.6% resulted in a three-putt.
In summary, literally, everything about TPC Craig Ranch is easy for a PGA Tour professional. So what types of players should we target, and how were they able to separate themselves from the field? Here’s the relative skillset chart from DataGolf of what types of players have typically performed well at TPC Craig Ranch, as well as which skillsets contributed the most towards the variance in total strokes gained at the golf course:
(Note – only focus on the 2022 result, as the Event Avg. statistics capture all Byron Nelsons since 2010, which were also featured at Trinity Forest and TPC Four Seasons).
There’s little correlation between performance off the tee and success at TPC Craig Ranch. TPC Craig Ranch favored neither long nor short hitters or accurate or inaccurate players. And it contributed less towards the variance in total strokes gained than the PGA Tour average. As such, off the tee isn’t something gamblers should focus on much this week.
There’s a slight favorability towards better iron players at TPC Craig Ranch than the typical PGA Tour venue. In 2022, however, iron play contributed less towards the total variance in strokes gained at TPC Craig Ranch. This is probably because the approach shots are so easy at the golf course, meaning it’s harder to separate oneself from the field in this area.
There’s a slight favorability towards better performance around the green at TPC Craig Ranch. However, in tournament performance around the green contributed just as much towards the variance in total strokes gained as it did for the typical PGA Tour venue.
The areas where there seems like the highest correlation to success at TPC Craig Ranch is putting. Not only are better putters overall those who have fared better at TPC Craig Ranch, but in-tournament putting contributed much more towards the variance in total strokes gained than the typical PGA Tour venue. So in layman’s terms, this is essentially a putting contest.
Follow the tips in this preview, and gamblers should be able to put together a strong betting card or DFS lineup for the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson.