After a satisfying conclusion to the 2023 PGA Championship, the PGA Tour returns to its final trip to Texas of the year. It’s the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge from Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, TX. As always, here is a preview of the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge and a guide for how to bet on the tournament.
2023 Charles Schwab Challenge Preview
The Colonial Country Club was built in 1936 in an effort to prove naysayers wrong. It was speculated that Bentgrass was too fragile to withstand the hot Texas heat. Most golf courses in the area strictly utilized the native Bermuda.
Taking up the challenge, club founder and golf nut Marvin Leonard constructed the grounds entirely of Bentgrass. He tasked Perry Maxwell (architect of the 2022 PGA Championship site Southern Hills) to design the course, while John Bredemus oversaw the construction.
While Maxwell’s design of the golf course was well done, Leonard’s dream of a wall-to-wall Bentgrass golf course in Texas failed to come to fruition. It was simply too hot for the Bentgrass fairways and rough to withstand the summer heat. As a result, those were transitioned to Bermuda full-time. However, the greens remain Bentgrass and are some of the best-maintained greens offered on the PGA Tour.
Colonial features a lot of sloped fairways. That will force the golfers to accommodate for uneven lies several times a round. The routing of the golf course is also very creative. Hole after hole, players tee off in different directions. This also can be challenging in windy conditions.
Something that makes Colonial Country Club a great golf course is that it’s located right in the heart of downtown Fort Worth. There is a tremendous bond between the community and the private country club. The tournament is also rich in tradition as one of the oldest on the PGA Tour. It also has a murderer’s row of former winners – Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, and Jordan Spieth.
Lastly, here are two videos from the boys of No Laying Up covering Colonial Country Club. The first one discusses what the tournament and the country club mean to Fort Worth. The second one shows them take on the Horrible Horseshoe, a grueling trek across the third through fifth holes and is one of the tougher three-hole stretches in golf.
Colonial Country Club is slated to undergo a big facelift. Following the completion of the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge, Gil Hanse will completely renovate the golf course to restore the traditional Perry Maxwell roots. For more information about the changes anticipated to Colonial Country Club, click here.
Here’s a preview of everything anyone needs to put together a great betting card or DFS lineup for the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge:
Colonial Country Club is a Par 70 and plays just a shade over 7,200 yards long. The average green size at the golf course is about 5,000 square feet. That’s slightly smaller than the PGA Tour average green size. The greens are Bentgrass, while all grasses between the tee box and green are bermuda. In 2022, the bermuda rough was 3″ in length. It will likely be a similar length in 2023.
Players have a better ability to hit over the doglegs and shorten up the golf course a bit. Per DataGolf, players can shave off about 200 yards of the golf course by hitting over dog legs to shorten the hole. As a result, the adjusted yardage of the golf course is actually around 7,000 yards. Golf courses on the PGA Tour with comparable adjusted yardages are the following:
- TPC River Highlands
- Sea Island
- Pebble Beach
- Austin Country Club
- Sedgefield Country Club
- Harbour Town Golf Links
- PGA National
- Waialae Country Club
The adjusted yardage of the Par 3’s at Colonial Country Club is 193 yards. That’s about the PGA Tour average. While the Par 3 4th plays between 200-225 yards, the Par 3 8th plays 150-175 yards. Since 2015, the Par 3’s play to an average score of +0.08. That’s about the PGA Tour average.
The adjusted yardage of the Par 4’s and 5’s at Colonial Country Club is only 445 yards. Of all golf courses played on the PGA Tour since 2015, that’s the 9th shortest length. There are five Par 4’s under 400 yards, six that play between 400-450 yards, and only one (the 5th) that plays over 450 yards. Since 2015, the Par 4’s have played to a scoring average of +0.06. That is about the PGA Tour average.
Meanwhile, Colonial only has two Par 5’s. While the Par 5 1st is only 564 yards, it features a hard right dog leg. Its defenses are thick rows of trees to the right and two well-placed fairway bunkers on the left. The other Par 5, the 11th, played at 631 yards in 2022. Since 2015, the average score on the Par 5’s is -0.23. Of all non-major venues on the PGA Tour, that’s the 12th hardest collection of Par 5’s.
Off The Tee
Colonial Country Club is one of the toughest driving courses on the PGA Tour. Of all non-major venues on the PGA Tour since 2015, it’s the 5th toughest.
There are several reasons why it’s so tough. For starters, Colonial is a golf course that can often take the driver out of the hands of the players. Since 2015, the average driving distance on the Par 4’s and 5’s is only about 280 yards. This is similar to the average driving distance at places like Innisbrook, PGA National, Pebble Beach, and Harbour Town. Each of these golf courses dictates to the player where to hit it. And often times the best landing zone is achievable without a driver.
Second, the fairways are very narrow and hard to hit, even when clubbing down. The fairways average only about 28 yards in width at Colonial Country Club. Of all active golf courses on the PGA Tour, only East Lake, Torrey Pines, and Silverado feature narrower fairways. And despite players opting for more accurate clubs off the tee, the driving accuracy percentage at Colonial since 2015 is only 62%.
There are also well-placed bunkers off the fairway to gobble up errant tee shots. The center of most bunkers is between 270-300 yards on the golf course. As such, they’re right in the line of fire for anyone hitting a fairway metal off the tee.
And the bermuda rough is typically pretty tough to deal with too. On average, there’s a 0.34 stroke difference on the hole between tee shots that find the fairway and tee shots that find the rough. That’s one of the more severe penalties on the PGA Tour.
Finally, of the 14 non-Par 3 tee shots, half of them favor a fade (for a righty) off the tee. Only three favor a draw, but players do have room to carry it over the dogleg up top on #3 and #18. And four of them deliver the option to hit the ball either way off the tee. So overall, Colonial seems to favor faders (for righties) off the tee.
Overall, Colonial Country Club features average difficulty with the approach shots. Of all golf courses played on the PGA Tour since 2015, it only features slightly tougher approach shots than a typical PGA Tour venue. This correlates to a slightly below-average green in regulation % of 62.6% since 2015. The annual GIR% also varies widely due to weather conditions. In bad weather years, it’s dipped below 60%. In good weather, it’s capped out at around 66%.
Here are the proximity buckets from last year’s tournament. This will help preview the types of approach shots players will hit at the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge (per DataGolf):
- < 100 yards: 8.7%
- 100-125 yards: 13.0%
- 125-150 yards: 19.7%
- 150-175 yards: 22.6%
- 175-200 yards: 17.7%
- 200-225 yards: 5.4%
- 225-250 yards: 5.3%
- 250+ yards: 7.6%
About 73% of all approach shots at Colonial come from between 100 and 200 yards. In addition, there’s an above-average rate of approach shots hit from all 25-yard proximity increments from 100-200 yards. It’s a very similar approach to shot distribution to places like Sea Island, Waialae, and Sedgefield Country Club. That’s probably why there’s a significant cross between players who’ve performed well at those venues and those who have done well at Colonial.
Around The Green
Colonial isn’t tremendously difficult around the green compared to other PGA Tour golf courses. Of all active PGA Tour golf courses, it’s the 10th easiest on the PGA Tour. Furthermore, it features the easiest bunkers to get up and down from those same golf courses.
This is an area that Gil Hanses will look to address once he completes the restoration. All the bunkers will be rebuilt, as will the greens. Hopefully, it’ll have a few more teeth in it after the restoration.
Overall, the greens at Colonial aren’t terribly difficult to putt on. Players typically gain significantly more strokes per round on the greens at Colonial from all putts under 5 feet, from 5 to 15 feet, and 15+ feet. Like the greenside surrounds, this is something Gil Hanse will hopefully address with his restoration.
Next, here is a skillset chart of players who have performed better at Colonial Country Club, as well as how players have typically separated themselves on the leaderboard. These charts (from DataGolf) will be a preview of what types of players to bet on at Colonial and how they’ll typically gain an edge on the field:
Not only hasn’t Colonial favored any particular player off the tee, but overall, players overall have a difficult time separating themselves on the leaderboard with it. Colonial is an execution test that dictates the types of clubs players can use off the tee. As such, there’s no advantage for accuracy or distance in terms of a player’s profile. Nor does it allow anyone to have an outlier week off the tee to gain a huge edge on the rest of the leaderboard.
In terms of a player’s profile, there’s a high correlation between players who perform better with their irons and around the green. However, iron play significantly has more influence on the variance in strokes gained on the course than around the green play does. So while last year around the green play had a high correlation towards total strokes gained at the end of the tournament, overall, it packs less of a punch than the typical PGA Tour event.
Lastly, there’s a slight negative correlation between how good or poor putters do at Colonial. However, historically putting has been able to allow one to separate themselves on the leaderboard more than it does at a typical PGA Tour event.
Follow the tips in this preview, and one should be able to put together a good betting card and DFS lineup at the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge.