Tournament: The Bridgestone Invitational
Course: Firestone Country Club
Course Architect: Bert Way designed the South Course at Firestone CC and the course opened for lay in 1929. Robert Trent Jones Sr. redesigned the course in 1960, and it has a long history of testing the world’s best golfers.
Course Grass: Firestone CC boasts Bent grass greens, fairways and tees.
Course Stats: Firestone CC is a par 70, and will be stretched to just over 7400 yards this week.
Course Features: Firestone CC is an interesting layout, as it boasts only two par 5’s, which is traditional for par 70 layouts. One would think if there are only two par 5’s on the course that they must be easy birdie opportunities, however they would be wrong…very wrong. The par 5 2nd hole can be played at as short as 497 yards, and as long as 526 yards. To all players present, it will absolutely present a birdie opportunity. Where things start to get very tricky is the par 5 16th hole, which weighs in at a healthy 667 yards. All you need to know about the 16th hole is that Bubba Watson hit the longest drive of any tour player in 2015 at 424 yards, and still made bogey on the 16th. The interesting part about the 16th hole is that it is so long, that not even the longest of hitters can regularly get home in two. This more or less makes things equal amongst the players in the field. To add even more difficulty to a long par 5, the green is fronted by a pond which collects its fair share of approach shots each year. I doubt you will see a player try to get home in two unless he’s faced with a must-eagle opportunity on Sunday. WGC events have no cuts on Friday, so there is even less reason for players to push the envelope on risk/reward opportunities.
With the par 5’s equal, navigating Firestone becomes more about how you play the par 4’s, in totality. While the total length of the course is 7400 yards—more than the average PGA Tour venue—the driver is only one of the weapons players will need to have sharpened this week in order to contend. Evidenced by the two holes below, players will need to hit two extremely precise shots to even have a shot at birdie, and in both cases, par is a very good score. The par 4 3rd, despite being only 442 yards, is a very demanding hole. It requires a very accurate tee shot that must angle itself to the dogleg right contour of the fairway. Anything too far right, and you will be blocked by a cluster of trees. Anything too far left and the ball will come to rest off the fairway, making for a treacherous approach shot to a green fronted by a large pond. The green is also severely sloped back to front, making the pond look even larger. The par 4th 8th hole is a monster. At 482 yards, it requires a long, straight tee shot, which will then leave most players with a long iron into the green. The green is sloped away from the dogleg, which also narrows the target area. In addition, both sides of the green are well bunkered and will test players skills in getting up-and-down. These two par 4’s make for a difficult front nine, and the winner of the Bridgestone will the player who can navigate the front nine without making a big number.
Key Metrics: Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, Driving Accuracy, Proximity to Hole, Par 4 Scoring, Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting