Caves Valley Key Fantasy Stats

BMW Championship

August 26th – 29th, 2021

Caves Valley Golf Club

Owings Mills, Maryland

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,542

Purse: $9.5 million

with $1,710,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jon Rahm

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

There are about a dozen great golf courses in this country that could hold a PGA Tour event. With the USGA and the PGA of America having most of their future venues signed up for the next eight years, that leaves the minimal option for these new gems to see a professional event. For the 2020-2021 season, we have seen a lot of these great courses used. Last October, the CJ Cup was played at Shadow Creek just outside of Las Vegas. The following week the Zozo Championship was played at Sherwood Country Club, another gem of a course that has held team events and Champion Tour events to great fanfare. In February, with the World Federation not able to play in Mexico, the PGA Tour worked out a deal with Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida. When the Canadian Open was postponed due to Covid, the folks at Congaree Golf Club in Ridgeland, South Carolina, developed the Palmetto Championship, which was a one-off event. All four of these clubs are very elite private clubs that have achieved fame and now have had the world see it with these PGA Tour events.
This week another gem of a course is being introduced to the golfing world. Caves Valley Golf Club, a private club 15 miles northwest of Baltimore, will hold the BMW Championship, the 2nd of the FedExCup playoffs. It’s nice that the world will get a peek at Caves Valley but even better than the golf-starved Baltimore area will finally get a PGA Tour event. Baltimore is the 21st largest metropolitan city in this country, and it’s hard to believe that the last time Baltimore held a PGA Tour event, John Kennedy was the president. The event was the 1962 Eastern Open and was won by Doug Ford 59 years ago.
Caves Valley is the best course in the Baltimore area. It was created in the 1980s to enhance Baltimore’s prestige and attract significant business to the area. The focus of the club was to be solely for golf. There are no tennis courts or pools, no fancy clubhouse, and the club sits on 962 acres with very few homes on it, and the ones on it are not visible from the course. The course has the elite of Baltimore as members, folks like Orioles Hall of Fame 3rd baseman Cal Ripken Jr. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti along with Under Armour founder Kevin Plank our full-time members of Caves Valley. The course also has elite International members from Michael Jordan to Michael Bloomberg. Half of the course’s members live outside of the Baltimore area, and the club has 48 rooms on the property for overnight stays or if a member was entertaining out-of-town guests. So yes, the club is very elite.
When the course was being developed, it hired golf course architect Tom Fazio to design Caves Valley. It was one of his first projects that gave acclaim to Fazio. The club sits on 962 acres, and Fazio was tasked to find an area for the 18 holes. The land sits on rolling terrain with dense trees, and Fazio was able to use any part of the property that would create 18 holes that would suit the natural environment and, at the same time, be a challenging test. Fazio accomplished the goal as the holes meander through rolling hills and lush valleys. It has a combination of woodlands and wetlands with five holes having water on them. The greens are nothing fancy, at 5,200 square feet, they are considered small and hard to hit. They may lack a lot of undulation, at the same time, they are very fast and true, good putters will love them. You noticed that there are no homes along the fairways. Yes, the club does have residential homes, but they are tucked away and not visible from the course.
The club says it’s been building toward hosting a PGA Tour event since it first opened in 1991. The course hosted the Mid-Amateur in 1995, followed by the 2002 U.S. Senior Open and the Constellation Senior Players Championship in 2017. It’s also hosted both the men’s and women’s NCAA championships, the 2007 Palmer Cup, and the LPGA’s 2014 International Crown.
When it became known that the course would hold the BMW Championship, Fazio was brought back to update it and prepare for this week’s tournament. Eight new trees were built, adding 400 yards and stretching it to just under 7,600 yards. For this week, it will play to a par 72 at 7,542 yards. All the bunkers were redone, plus the trees have been significantly thinned. The nines have been flipped for the BMW because the front nine can accommodate more people, plus many think that nine is the better nine with a more dramatic finish. The 16th hole will be a reachable par 5, the 17th is a par-3 over water, and the 18th is a pretty par 4 with a pesky creek running along the right side and going from tee to green.
For the 69 players in the field (Patrick Reed has pneumonia and can’t play), it will be a new adventure for them. Since Baltimore isn’t a spot that most of the pros go to, it’s safe to say that not many of the players have seen Caves Valley. On top of that, the weather delays at the Northern Trust will mean very little prep time for the players and caddies. Historically when a new course comes to the PGA Tour, the winner is a person you least expect to win. Examples of that were when Garrick Higgo won the Palmetto Championship and K.H. Lee winning the AT&T Byron Nelson. Even going back to the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, Jason Kokrak collected his first PGA Tour victory. Now, this is not a given rule, Collin Morikawa won the WGC-Workday Concession back in February, and he was a proven winner. The point is anybody can win this week. As for the course itself, the course rating is 74.5 with a slope rating of 138, so we can expect, just like at Liberty National, to get some low scoring this week.
Caves Valley will is being set up for scoring opportunities. Of the ten par 4s, three are under 400 yards, only with one at 430 yards, and the last six over 460 yards. The fairways will be generous, but rough does come into play along with 36 fairway bunkers. In the past, the rough was tough during the U.S. Senior Open, but when PGA Tour officials set up the course for the Constellation Senior Players Championship in 2017, it was manageable, even the rough was manageable. If this holds up for this week, it will be a good course for long hitters who don’t have to worry about keeping it the fairway. Since the greens are small, it’s a must to hit greens. With the size of the greens, the longest putt will be 40 feet, again very manageable. Water comes in play on five holes, mainly on the 2nd nine. The one challenge for the players is placing a drive in the fairway. Most of the holes do turn in the middle of the fairway, either right or left. On a dogleg hole, players who can hit it over the bunkers could have problems keeping their balls on the fairway since with the fairway turning, it gives very little room for error, and a player could drive it through the dogleg into the rough. So look for a lot of drives with fairway woods and Irons.

Since we have no data to base our conclusions on for our four categories, we will take an educated guess on which stats are needed to succeed this week at Caves Valley. The First will be Accuracy and length off the tee. Caves Valley is very challenging off the tee, and if players can hit it far and straight will have an advantage. Driving it at Caves Valley will be like it is at Augusta National. So our first category is Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green. The course is not only an excellent driving course but demands great shotmaking to the greens as it takes precious iron play. The course has the same values as Augusta National or Concession Golf Club, in which you have to put the shot on the green but in the correct quadrant, so our second category is Greens in Regulation. One other thing about hitting greens, they are small, so they will be hard to hit.
Of course, when you miss a green, you will have to scramble to make your par. All 18 greens are well guarded, and you know that mistakes will be made, and puts many skills in getting it up and down from just off the greens. So our third category is Strokes Gained Around the Green. This combination of all skills in getting it up and down from the short grass and the bunkers around the greens, which have sand all around them.
Our last category is Strokes Gained Putting. Remember, the greens aren’t tricky but very fast, so good putters will have a fun week. So Strokes Gained Putting is an excellent way in determining how a player does overall on the greens, and since putting will be a key to winning at Congaree, I don’t see any stat better to end this stat look with.

*Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green: Looks at the combination of length off the tee and accuracy, then getting the ball on the green so it determines who is best at all of these items.

*Greens in Regulation: Number of greens hit from the fairway or rough.

*Strokes Gained Around the Green: This is a combination of all skills in getting it up and down from not only the short grass but from the bunkers around the greens.

*Strokes Gained Putting: This is an excellent way in determining how a player does overall on the greens by determining the length of the putt and calculating the percentage the player should make the putt, and coming up with a stroke figure.

The 69 of the 69 players from this year’s field (Patrick Reed isn’t playing) with stats from 2021.

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

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.