Bethpage Key Fantasy Stats

PGA Championship

May 16th – 19th, 2019

Bethpage State Park (Black Course)

Bethpage, N.Y.

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,459

Purse: $11 million (last year)

with $1.98 million (last year) to the winner

Defending Champion:
Brooks Koepka

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

The PGA Championship starts a new era by moving the championship away from the heat and humanity of August to May that holds great weather and now adds a major just four weeks after the Masters is completed.
Many worried that going to the northeast in May could be deadly with not only cold weather but a course that could possibly not be ready for championship conditions, but that isn’t the case this week.

This is based on the most vital stats from Bethpage, based on data from the four championships played at Bethpage (2002, 2009 U.S. Open, 2012, 2016 Northern Trust) when the course was last used and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2019.

Bethpage is an A.W. Tillinghast on record even though many feel it is doubtful he had anything to do with the actual building of it. Yes, he did the designs and drawings. However, some historians say that Tillinghast never spent a day at Bethpage after the drawings were completed, and the workers took them and did the best they could to follow his plans.
It doesn’t matter, the course is a gem and probably the finest municipal golf course in America. Now before people jump down my throat saying, hey places like Pebble Beach, Pinehurst and Bandon Dunes are “municipal” courses because they are opened to the public, they aren’t. Municipal are courses run by a local or state government, in the case of Bethpage, it’s run by the state of New York. Yes, people could say that Torrey Pines is a better course, it’s run by the city of San Diego. It’s a very scenic course and has held a U.S. Open, but for regular challenges, Bethpage is the best.
Now for the U.S. Open par was 70, for the Northern Trust par is 71. For the PGA Championship par will be 70 as the 7th hole, which was a par 5 during the two Northern Trust’s will be a par 4 during the PGA Championship. The change will be important because it gives bombers one less hole to dominate.
Since the course is “public” the greens are fairly flat and don’t have much roll in them, thus giving a poor putter a chance. You can see this in action as one of the worst all-time putters on the PGA Tour is Lucas Glover who won the U.S. Open at Bethpage in 2009. Another example is the 2012 winner Nick Watney, who also is not that great of a putter. Now Patrick Reed who won the 2016 Northern Trust at Bethpage is not a great putter, but not a poor one as he is in the middle of the pack. So it just makes you think that a poor putter can do well on this course.
Still, you have to get to the greens, and the course is filled with hazards. One is fairway bunkers, sand in the fairway appears on 10 holes, #4, #5, #6, #7, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13,and 18. The course is tightly tree-lined with rough, but since the course has had a short growing season I don’t expect killer rough. So the course will appeal to bombers, but there are some hazards for them. Holes 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, and 15 have bend which means that fairways will run out so long hitters need to throttle back with possible long irons on the holes to make sure they are in position for shots into the green. So there are some hazards and dangers to driving at Bethpage. Now there are bunkers around the greens, 42 of them, but they aren’t wicked like the greenside bunkers at Oakmont or even Baltusrol. With many of the greens risen, missing them means tough pitches to the hole, this will be the challenge for the players this week. Despite this don’t think the course is a pushover, it’s so unique that is the reason the PGA of America will is holding not only this championship but the 2014 Ryder Cup on this course. Both the PGA and the USGA set up courses harder than the PGA Tour, so that is part of the secret. Tiger had a winning score of 3 under at the 2002 U.S. Open; Lucas Glover was 4 under in 1999 while Nick Watney shot 10 under at the 2012 Northern Trust and Patrick Reed shot 9 under. If you take the 4 championships together and look at the 1,674 rounds played the average score is 72.90. So I can see the winning score going as low as 12 under this year.

So will every phase of the game be examined at Bethpage? Probably not for those playing well, I can see a lot of birdies and around a dozen players breaking par for the 72 holes.
So in looking at our four categories, our first is Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green. This is going to be the most important item and frankly, go to the top and sort through it, I would say that someone in the top-30 will win this week. Now for the U.S. Open and the 2012 Northern Trust they didn’t have Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, so we have to look at several stats. It ranked T-28th in driving distance for the year on the PGA Tour, it was 27th in driving accuracy and 18th in greens hit. For the 2016 Northern Trust it ranked 34th in driving distance for the year, it was 21st in driving accuracy and 18th in greens hit.
For the U.S. Open in 2009, it ranked 6th in driving distance, 24th in driving accuracy and 5th in greens hit. Again that greens hit becomes important, in 2016 the winner Patrick Reed was T-13th, 2012 the winner Nick Watney was T-2nd, in 2009 Lucas Glover was 4th and in 2002 Tiger Woods was 1st.
Our second stat is scrambling, lot’s of players will miss greens at Bethpage and will have to get it up and down. In 2016, the course ranked 11th while Patrick Reed was T-10th. In 2012, the course ranked 13th in scrambling while Watney was T39th, Glover in 2009 was 19th and Tiger was 2nd in 2002.
Our third stat is putting inside of 10 feet, yes this will be substantial because the greens will be flat with tiny undulation. One problem for the players, the greens are poa aunna and will be bumpy in the afternoon. Still, the winner will come close to making 100% of his putts from 10 feet and in.
Our fourth category is par 4 average. I see this as being a critical stat with 12 par 4s this week. I also think that one of the strong suits of Bethpage is its strong par 4s.

Bethpage is a great course and if the weather is ok then it will have a great winner. Right now there is heavy rain on Sunday and Monday that will soften up the course. After that, the only poor day is Thursday which sees a 50% chance of rain. Winds will be mild, every day around 9 mph and temperatures will be in the mid-60s each day.

*Strokes Gained tee-to-green: A combination of driving distance, accuracy and greens hit this will tell you who plays the best from tee to green which will be important this week.

*Scrambling: The percent of the time a player misses the green in regulation, but still makes par or better.

*Putting inside 10 feet: Very easy, counts every putt from ten feet in to see who makes the most.

*Par 4 Average: How players do on par 4s, who plays them the best.

Here are the 102 of 156 players from this year’s field with stats from 2019

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

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