BMW Championship Key Fantasy Stats

BMW Championship

August 17th – 20th, 2023

Olympia Fields C.C. (North Course)

Olympia Fields, Ill.

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,366

Purse: $20 million

with $3,600,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Patrick Cantlay

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

As we said last year, on the eve of the BMW Championship being held at Wilmington Country Club, there are about a dozen great golf courses in this country that could have a PGA Tour event. Last year the world got to experience Wilmington Country Club, and the year before Caves Valley, both courses Patrick Cantlay won. In 2020 Olympia Fields held the BMW, and Jon Rahm beat Dustin Johnson in a playoff. Now the great thing about the BMW is they go to a great course each year. In 2019 they went to Medinah, the site of the U.S. Opens, the PGA Championships, and the Ryder Cup. In 2018 they went to Aronimink, a course outside of Philadelphia that has seen a PGA Championship played on it. The event has also been to Crooked Stick and Cherry Hills, both sites with a major championship. The point is there have been a lot of great courses that have hosted the BMW Championship.
This week the PGA Tour returns to one of those incredible gems, Olympia Fields Country Club. The course is held in the 2020 BMW and is about 35 minutes south of Chicago. The North Course of Olympia Fields has held its share of championships, including the 1928 and 2003 U.S. Open, the 1925 and 1961 PGA Championship, and five Western Opens, the last in 1971 won by Bruce Crampton. The course is a gem, laid out in 1916 when hickory clubs were the norm. The course is of the tradition of most courses built in the 1920s, parkland courses on rolling terrain with a stream roaming through. The course is tree-lined and very well bunkered and has rough, so driving the ball is essential. You have to find the fairways because the greens are small targets to hit, with sand guarding the front part of them. The greens are 6,000 square feet with a lot of undulation and will be hard to putt. Making things even more demanding, if you miss the green, it’s like any course of the region, hard to get up and down to save par.

The course is a gem; it held the BMW Championship three years ago and was a big success since it had the U.S. Open in 2003. Unfortunately, in 2003, the course was soft the first two days of play, and scores were low, which the USGA didn’t appreciate. So in making the course more challenging, conditions dried up and made the final round super hard. Since then, the course has not played into the USGA’s future plans, but the PGA Tour, searching for courses in the Chicago area, gave it a try. It was a big success for the 2020 BMW, so big they have returned. Unfortunately, in 2020, because of COVID, they didn’t allow fans to the event, but this year that will all change.

We have very little data to base our conclusions to get our four categories since Olympia Fields doesn’t hold a regular event on it every year. But we have the data from 2020, and the course is set up the same way, so our four categories are a good barometer for what it will take to win this week. We are also comparing the stats from Jon Rahm, who won by beating Dustin Johnson in a playoff, and also including Johnson’s stats. The things to watch for, Accuracy will be the key to winning at Olympia Fields, not only in driving Accuracy but precious iron play into the greens. This course demands a great shotmaker, and when you miss a green, you will have to show the skill of handling both sand play and pitch shots from gnarly rough around the green. If that isn’t enough, a poor putter won’t cut it on this course. The greens have a lot of undulations and mounds, so good lag putting is required along with the nerves to make most of those nasty five and six-footers. When Olympia Fields held the 2020 BMW Championship, it played to a 71.82 scoring average, with was the 4th hardest course on tour in 2020. With the right conditions, this course is a bear, an example of that was the final round of the 2003 U.S. Open, which was played at 73.03. It showed how hard the course can play if the greens get baked and are sped up. I don’t expect that to happen. Still, an average of close to par would be acceptable for the week.

So this is based on the most important stats for the Olympia Fields, based on what I feel is essential based on what happened at Olympia Field in 2020. Of course, weather plays a factor in scoring, and with the course being a bit wet, the temperature high, and conditions soft, the scoring could be low. But I see very little rain in the forecast for this week, so that the course will dry out each day, and by the weekend, it could be very firm and the greens very quick. But leading up to this week, there has been a lot of rain, so expect the rough to be even harder to manage.
Since it’s crucial to not only keep it in the fairway but also drive it far, I use a stat that is a bit old and not used much, but I feel essential for Total Driving which adds up the rank of Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy to come up with a total rank. This will determine which players will hit it long and straight, two items very important for the week. In 2020 the course ranked 36th in driving distance and 1st in driving Accuracy showing that the fairways were the hardest to hit for the 2020 season. Winner Jon Rahm was 6th in Driving distance and T-13th in Driving Accuracy, so he was 1st in Total Driving. Runner-up Dustin Johnson, who lost a playoff to Rahm, was 8th in Driving Distance and T-18th in Driving Accuracy, and 2nd in Total Driving. So we can see the importance of this stat when the winner and runner-up were 1st and 2nd in the state.
Our second category is Greens in Regulation, the number of greens hit from the fairway. To score and score well on this course, hitting greens is critical. In 2020 57.85% of the field hit the greens for the week as the course ranked 6th hardest. The winner Jon Rahm hit 51 of 72 greens and was T-2nd in the field. Runner-up Johnson hit 49 of 72 greens and was 5th best.
Our third category is Strokes Gained Around the Green. This is a combination of all skills in getting it up and down from the short grass and the bunkers around the greens, which have close to 50 of them around them. In 2020 Olympia Fields was 7th in scrambling and 29th in Sand Save Percentage. Winner Rahm was T-25th in Scrambling and T-10th in San Save Percentage and ranked 13th in Strokes Gained Around the Green. Runner-up Johnson was 33rd in Scrambling and T-31st in Sand Save Percentage as he ranked 51st in Strokes Gained Around the Green.
Our last category is Strokes Gained Putting. This is a great way to determine how a player performs on the greens since putting is vital to winning at Olympia Fields. In 2020 the course ranked 2nd in Putting Average and was 20th in putting inside 10 feet. As for the winner Jon Rahm, he was 6th in Putting Average and T-38th in Putting inside 10 feet and for the week, ranked 6th in Strokes Gained Putting. As for runner-up Dustin Johnson he was 15th in Putting Average and T-25th in Putting inside 10 feet, so he was 9th in Strokes Gained Putting.
So as we can see, in looking at who plays well at Olympic Fields is the player that drives it far and straight and hits a lot of greens

*Total Driving: It adds up the rank of Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy to come up with a total rank. This will determine which players will hit it long and straight, two items very important for the week.

*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 a great way to determine how a player does overall on the greens by determining the length of the putt, calculating the percentage the player should make the putt, and coming up with a stroke figure.

The 50 players from this year’s field with stats from 2023:

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

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