Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: Charles Schwab Challenge

PGA Tour golf returns this week with the Charles Schwab Challenge. Catch up on the field and course with this week's primer.

We. Are. Back. Colonial Country Club is our oasis after wandering through a largely sports-free desert these past three months. The Fort Worth, Texas track will host a field of unprecedented strength, with the size expanded from the 120-ish invitational status to a near full field event and most of the best golfers in the world itching to get back at it for the first time since the Tour suspended operations after round one of THE PLAYERS Championship in March.

As part of last year's schedule change, Colonial was moved to a slot immediately after the PGA Championship. While the event may be weakened over the long term, this year boasts each of the top-five golfers in the Official World Golf Ranking, and 16 of the top 20 overall. Some key names are missing, leaving us a hair shy of major-championship-level competition but certainly in the realm of a WGC or FedEx Cup Playoffs event.

Colonial is a 7,204-yard par 70 that has generally played on the harder side in recent years. The course starts off with two of the easiest holes on the course, including the best birdie opportunity of the day right out of the gate on the 566-yard par 5 first hole. After those two holes, golfers will face the "Horrible Horseshoe," a three-hole stretch that includes two of the hardest holes on the course. The 476-yard par 4 fifth claims one of the highest individual scoring averages on Tour.

We have no weather concerns to speak of this week, with look ahead conditions hot and dry with lighter than normal winds.

With no fans, limited staff, and social distancing on the minds of golfers and viewers alike, this event is particularly unlike any not just at Colonial but any competitive event in PGA Tour history. Try not to focus on those aspects, and just enjoy the first small sense of normalcy in quite awhile.

Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.

Course and Tournament Info

Course: Colonial Country Club
Par: 70
Distance: 7,204 yards
Fairways/Rough: Bermudagrass
Greens: Bentgrass

Season Par Yardage Average Score Avg O/U Par Rank
2019 70 7209 70.86 +0.86 7
2018 70 7209 69.83 -0.17 20
2017 70 7209 71.15 +1.154 7
2016 70 7209 70.19 +0.197 18
2015 70 7204 69.78 -0.218 21
2014 70 7204 70.27 +0.273 19

The field can expect a tough test. Colonial is no cookie cutter resort course or sprawling, wide open track to be bombed and gauged. Almost half the field will miss the fairway each hole, even though the course generally does not compel golfers to pull driver all that frequently. Distance is slightly longer than average, but as we'll see from golfers with the best course history, it's not exactly a slew of bombers. Many of the biggest hitters do not make this a frequent stop, though, and with this elite field we could see a deviation from the historical numbers in that regard.

The course features 4 par 3s, 12 par 4s, and 2 par 5s. The par 3s are all within a hair of 200 yards, and the par 5s measure 566 yards and 625 yards. But the length needed on those behemoths is dulled a bit by the short par 4s -- only three are longer than 450 yards.

It just so happens that we covered correlated courses in a separate piece even before the new schedule was announced, with Colonial among the notable correlations with other regular Tour stops. The two primary comps for Colonial are Harbour Town Golf Links (coincidentally host of next week's RBC Heritage) and Waialae Country Club (Sony Open). The key defense of all three courses is wind. Their unintimidating length is balanced by the need for precision both off the tee and on approach, and a bad draw could accelerate an early exit. Throw in both the Seaside and Plantation courses at Sea Island Golf Club (RSM Classic) that also meet that criteria and match a number of strong performers.

Key Stats

These stats will be the keys to success in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club.

Key Stats for the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club
Strokes Gained: Approach
Strokes Gained: Short Game
Birdies or Better Gained
Strokes Gained: Par 4s (emphasis on shorter holes)

Kevin Na led the field in strokes gained: approach and greens in regulation gained by a significant margin en route to victory last year. According to stats on Fantasy National Golf Club, top-10 finishers gain more than a full stroke over the field via approaches.

Golfers need to be creative with their short irons and wedges here, as shorter than normal par 4s will leave golfers inside their shortest club on approach or even chipping. We'll emphasize golfers' total short game, their strokes gained: around the green and strokes gained: putting stats combined.

Birdies or better is always going to factor into our model, but especially so if the conditions are calm and the event plays more like Justin Rose's 20-under par winning score than Na's 13-under last year or Kevin Kisner's 10-under in 2017.

Birdie on the par 5 first is a must, and the 388-yard second is the only other clear cut birdie hole. The contenders will separate themselves by taking advantage of the short par 4s, picking up birdies when their opponents need three shots to score from 80 yards away off the tee.

Course History Studs

Jordan Spieth is finally priced appropriately and comes now at a friendly venue where he has won before and has two runner-ups and just one finish worse than 14th in seven tries. It's easy to argue that few golfers on Tour would benefit more from a hiatus, but Spieth's issues are longstanding and couldn't have been solved in three months. Still, he continues to show flashes of the short game wizardry, and few golfers would ignite the sport were they to come out of Sunday with a new plaid jacket in their closet. Jordan is one.

Na and Kisner are former winners who had knocked on the door previously. Na has 7 other top-25 finishes at Colonial in 12 trips, while Kisner had back-to-back top-10s in 2015 and 2016 before getting his second career stroke play victory. His other victory came at Sea Island.

Webb Simpson and Jon Rahm have similar polar track records, with each having two top-5s and a missed cut over the past four years.

Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.