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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sanderson Farms Championship - Preview

The Sanderson Farms Championship will be contested in Jackson, Mississippi, opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions. This tournament was played at Annandale CC since 1994, but will break in the Country Club of Jackson as the host venue this time around. Of note, this tournament has recently played second fiddle to the Open Championship, but was off the schedule all together in 2013-14. It was also rained out in 2009.

Before I continue, I would like to thank Country Club of Jackson member, McWillie, and the First Assistant Golf Professional, Taylor, for the assist in my research this week. Here's hoping a little local knowledge will go a long way this week!

Country Club of Jackson is a par-72 layout that stretches out to 7,354 yards and features a quartet of par 3s and 5s to go with 10 par 4s. All of the par 5s are listed at 554 yards or longer, with the par-5 fifth weighing in at 612 yards.

My friends in Jackson offered me the following, which I will dutifully pass along to you. The greens are currently extremely firm and fast and of the Champions Bermuda variety. They are relatively difficult to read, and don't feature a common break (ex: in Vegas, everything breaks towards the strip etc). Missing greens could prove penal, as there are some severe falloffs just off the putting surfaces. The higher a player's ball flight, the better the chances of holding the putting surface. The course plays a little shorter than the yardage, and is fairly open off the tee. Longer players should enjoy an advantage.

So what does all of that mean?

Typically, when a new course enters the rotation, ball-striking wins out over putting. I would expect that to be the case this week. Difficult greens to read tends to equalize the field. It brings elite putters back to the average and puts the onus on hitting it close and avoiding three putts.

Driving accuracy probably won't be quite as big of a deal, but length will likely be rewarded. Obviously, being in the fairway would allow for more spin to hold the firm greens, but a wedge out of the rough isn't much worse than an 8-iron from the fairway.

My preference this week will be to find a group of solid ball-strikers who happen to be average to above-average putters and decent scramblers. In terms of ball-striking, I would rank GIR > Driving Distance > Driving Accuracy.

I will return with Power Rankings on Tuesday. Until then, happy research!


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