Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: CareerBuilder Challenge

The CareerBuilder Challenge boasts a unique format. What do you need to know about it?

The PGA Tour treks on into the 2018 calendar year with this week's CareerBuilder Challenge.

The event itself, though, is a bit unlike most PGA Tour stops in that it's not hosted at just one course. In fact, there are three different courses in play.

How does that impact the field? And how should it impact our DFS lineup choices?

Course and Tournament Info

Because there are three courses in play, each healthy golfer will play 54 holes rather than the standard 36 before a cut is determined. They'll all get a chance to play each course once. Prior to 2012, this event was a five-rounder at other courses, so keep that in mind when digging into past data.

The final round will take place at the Stadium Course, a Pete Dye design. The 7,100-yard par 72 has hosted some PGA events over the years, but it made a return just two years back for the CareerBuilder. It's played below par both years.

Year Difficulty Rank Course Par Yds Avg Score Avg O/U Par
2017 30 Stadium Course 72 7,113 71.588 -0.412
2016 41 Stadium Course 72 7,113 70.818 -1.182

One of the other two courses is the Nicklaus Tournament Course (the PGA West). It's all very confusing, but just know that it's been a birdie fest over recent years. Here's how the par 72 has played since 2009.

Year Difficulty Rank Course Par Yds Avg Score Avg O/U Par
2017 39 Nicklaus Tournament Course 72 7,159 70.744 -1.256
2016 49 Nicklaus Tournament Course 72 7,159 68.936 -3.064
2015 51 PGA West (Nicklaus) 72 6,924 69.273 -2.727
2014 48 PGA West (Nicklaus) 72 6,924 68.819 -3.181
2013 43 PGA West (Nicklaus) 72 6,924 68.000 -4.000
2012 49 PGA West (Nicklaus) 72 6,924 69.193 -2.807
2011 49 PGA West (Nicklaus) 72 6,924 69.214 -2.786
2010 51 PGA West (Nicklaus) 72 6,890 68.992 -3.008
2009 51 PGA West (Nicklaus) 72 6,924 66.984 -5.016

And the final course on the slate is La Quinta CC. Here's how that par 72 has played over the past 10 years (excluding 2009).

Year Difficulty Rank Course Par Yds Avg Score Avg O/U Par
2017 49 La Quinta CC 72 7,060 69.635 -2.365
2016 48 La Quinta CC 72 7,060 69.148 -2.852
2015 47 La Quinta CC 72 7,060 70.083 -1.917
2014 45 La Quinta CC 72 7,060 69.768 -2.232
2013 41 La Quinta CC 72 7,060 69.487 -2.513
2012 41 La Quinta CC 72 7,060 70.678 -1.322
2011 43 La Quinta CC 72 7,060 70.024 -1.976
2010 47 La Quinta CC 72 7,060 69.969 -2.031
2008 51 La Quinta CC 72 7,060 69.891 -2.109

Whew. So with this format, which stats can we key in on for predictive success this week?

Key Stats

Here are the top stats to focus on for this week's three-course event, based on prior years of data.

Key Stats for the CareerBuilder Challenge
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Strokes Gained: Approach
Birdie or Better Rate
Par 5 Scoring
Proximity to Hole

Gaining strokes tee to green, particularly with approach shots, has led to a lot of birdie chances at these events. Scoring will need to be low to contend for the top of the leaderboard, giving extra weight to scorers, those who can break par and make good on birdie chances.

With all three courses sitting as par 72s, par 5 performance can separate the tippy top of the board from the top 15 or top 25.

Proximity to the hole, requiring easier birdie putts, has been a key stat at the Stadium Course in its two years back on the menu.

Event History Studs

It's hard to pinpoint course history this week, as there isn't a single course in play, but 2016 and 2017 featured the same three courses for this event.

Brian Harman finished 3rd last year and 11th in 2016. Phil Mickelson was 21st in 2017 and 3rd in 2016. Jason Dufner won in 2016 and followed it up with a 25th-place showing last year. Brendan Steele was 6th and 34th in 2017 and 2016, respectively, and was 2nd in 2015 while rotating courses.

Bill Haas' form reads 6th, 1st, 9th, 17th at this event since 2014. Adam Hadwin was 2nd last year and 6th in 2016. Charles Howell had two top-12s: 12th last year and 11th in 2016.

Hudson Swafford won last year after a 56th in 2016. Chez Reavie was 12th and 17th, and Bud Cauley was 3rd and 14th in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

In all, eight golfers in this field have played this rotation each of the past two seasons and had a pair of top 25s to show for it: Harman (3rd, 11th), Mickelson (21st, 3rd), Dufner (25th, 1st), Haas (17th, 9th), Hadwin (2nd, 6th), Howell (12th, 11th), Reavie (12th, 17th), and Cauley (3rd, 14th).