Tournament Preview WGC-Workday Championship

WGC-Workday Championship 2021 Tournament Preview: Everything There Is To Know About The Concession Golf Club

Formerly the WGC Mexico Championship at Golf Club de Chapultepec. And before that, the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the TPC Blue Monster at Trump National Doral. This event has gone by many names and been played in several locations over the years. Thanks to COVID, the event returns back to its original roots in Florida, and thanks to our former president, it won’t be going back to Doral. So instead, it’s the PGA Tour’s first ever trip to The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida, a course conceived in the memory of Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin’s infamously conceded draw at the 1969 Ryder Cup. The last notable competitive event held on these grounds was the 2015 NCAA Championship, which was won by a slender Bryson DeChambeau.

Event history has little to no bearing on this week’s tournament, nor is there any data to be found on professional history on this golf course. So what do we do to prepare? I’ve scoured the internet for everything there is to know about the course – Yardage, Par, Grass, Greens Structures, Course Layout, Comp Courses, Key Holes, and other pertinent nuances to the course – and used all that information to piece together the below insights for this week’s approach to course handicapping. We’ll need to lean a bit more on comps and proxies here versus most other weeks, given the lack of substantial data, but in a short field, the information we do have should go a long way in narrowing down the player pool this week.

The Concession Course Specs

Photos courtesy of Links Gems

  • Yards: 7,474
  • Par: 72 (4x 3’s / 10x 4’s / 4x 5’s)
  • Greens: Bermuda
  • Comp Courses (Overall): Trump National at Doral, PGA National, Valhalla GC, Bay Hill, Quail Hollow, TPC Louisiana, Augusta, Kapalua, Winged Foot (for large undulated greens),
  • Comp Courses (Around The Green): Augusta, Kapalua, Memorial Park, Winged Foot (for large undulated greens)
  • Past Winners: Patrick Reed (20), Dustin Johnson (19), Phil Mickelson (18), Dustin Johnson (17), Adam Scott (16)
  • Other Past Winners In The Field: Justin Rose

I’ll start off by saying the yardage is at least 7,474, as this is the official Championship tee distance listed on their scorecards. As of this writing, the official tee sheets have not been released yet, but I would anticipate this playing around 7,500 yards this week, which is very long.

For comp courses, I’m looking at other longer Jack Nicklaus designs (PGA National, Valhalla) as well as other longer Bermuda tracks with comparable design (Bay Hill, Doral, Quail Hollow, TPC Louisiana). The course features table-top greens guarded by water and sand hazards that will require players to carry the greens, rather than rolling up onto them. For that reason, I’ve also included Augusta, Kapalua, and Memorial Park as comps for Around The Greens only. Concession also features very large greens with some of the most complex undulations we’ll see on tour, so I’ll be giving a quick look at Winged Foot as a comp for putting as well, despite the different grass types.

Truthfully, I don’t think you can put any stock behind past winners of this event. As this is a completely different course that most players in the field will be playing competitively for the first time, it’s going to feel like a brand new event. History-wise, I’m more prone to look at results across other equally strong yet small No-Cut fields, including Sentry TOC, BMW Championship, TOUR Championship, Zozo, CJ Cup, WGC FedEx St. Jude, WGC China, and WGC Mexico. Beyond that, I’ll also be looking more closely at results on similar Greens in the Florida swing at The PLAYERS, API, Honda, and Valspar.

Key Stats

  • SG: APP
  • SG: OTT / SG: Driving Distance
  • SG: Putting (Bermuda)
  • 3-Putt Avoidance
  • Par 3 Scoring: 200+
  • Birdies or Better Gained

Stats To Avoid

  • SG: ARG / SG: Short Game
  • Course History
  • Event History

Looking at the numbers on the scorecard and flyover videos of this course, this looks like your typical ball-strikers track, which is what a WGC should be. If you spray your drives, you’re going to find hazards, whether it be the water and bunkers prevalent throughout most holes, or natural woodlands, which are definitely a unique feature for a Florida course, more reminiscent of what you would see in Georgia or the Carolinas. But for drives that just miss the fairway, the rough looks to be low and less penal than we’ve seen in recent weeks.

Concession is a long course, so players will be taking out driver often, which means a combination of both distance and accuracy off the tee is important here. Even more important however is precision with iron approach. These large, table-top greens will draw plenty of run-offs into false fronts and collection areas. That means slight misses on approach will be exaggerated, so precise iron play and close proximity will be crucial. Additionally, the large undulations in the greens will present players with multi-tiered putts at times, so missing in the right spots here will be pivotal, as will 3-Putt Avoidance.

I’m deprioritizing Short Game this week, because although there are many greenside bunkers, they are designed to be shallow and player-friendly to avoid plugs, so up-and-downs should present less of a challenge compared to your average course. Similarly, while the sloped greens may result in less GIRs, Scrambling should be less of a challenge, as players will have a variety of options from the false fronts and collection areas to play their shots off the short stuff, as opposed to the problems we saw the Kikuyu present at Riviera last week.

What To Look Out For at the 2021 WGC-Workday Championship

In many ways, it’s anyone’s guess what to expect at this event. It’s a tight 68-man field with no cut at a golf course nobody in this field has played at professionally before. Beyond that, several of the presumptive favorites in this Field – Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau – are coming off disappointing MC’s at The Genesis Invitational last week, which begs the question, how panicked should we be about their recent form?

As this is a WGC, we’ll get to see some rare state-side appearances from Tyrrel Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Thomas Detry, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Bernd Wiesbeger, and Rasmus Hojgaard amongst others. On a track few others in the field have played competitively before, you have to give a slight bump this week to newcomers like Will Zalatoris, Viktor Hovland, and Collin Morikawa whose lack of experience on Tour would typically present a disadvantage compared to more seasoned veterans.

We should also put some stock behind the Florida residents in this field, including DJ, JT, Brooks, Rory, Berger, Cantlay, Woodland, Bubba, Horschel, and Cam Smith. Concession is named one of the nicest golf courses in Florida year after year, and even if they don’t have professional rounds under their belts here, you have to assume they come into this week with some prior familiarity.

I would be remiss if I closed without mentioning that this tournament will also feature the (seemingly) most rested Sungjae Im of all time, as he has sat out two consecutive events since the WMPO. The Atlanta homeowner and defending Honda Classic champion should welcome the Tour circuit’s shift to the Southeast with open arms, as he already has 4 T5s through his first two trips down the Florida Swing.

In closing, The Concession is going to require a great all around game in order to win. If you have holes in your game Off The Tee (both distance and accuracy), Approach, or Putting, this course will exaggerate those flaws. I’ll be zeroing in on the best Ball Strikers who can combine both distance and precision T2G with capable Putting on Bermuda greens.