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Pretzel

Scoring for the TPC Colorado Championship

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I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the scorers for the TPC Colorado Championship this weekend, and figured I could create a thread to share some of the thoughts and experiences from the event as it progresses. Some of the notable players in this particular tournament include David Duval, who is prepping for the Open Championship next weekend here in Colorado, and Graham Delaet.

David Duval's choice of event might seem surprising as a warm up for an Open Championship, but it actually makes reasonable sense considering the course setup is more similar than you might think to Dunluce Links. As an example, the 3rd hole of TPC Colorado (395 yard par 4) is a near perfect copy of the 385 yard 5th hole at Dunluce, a dogleg left with a reachable green but trouble to carry between the tee and green. The only real differences between the two are the trouble to carry off the tee (Dunluce has thick native grass where TPC Colorado has a lake) and that TPC Colorado has additional pot bunkers in the fairway. Most importantly is the fact that the event will take place in the plains of northern Colorado, where the morning winds usually start at 10-15 mph and often pick up to 30 mph or more in the afternoon. The gusty wind conditions make for excellent practice.

I'll be starting out scoring for the first afternoon tee time from hole one tomorrow at 12:20, for those of you wanting to stalk me on TV from home. The scoring system is pretty intuitive, and it's actually all handled with a phone app nowadays. Funny enough, when the switch was made to smartphones in 2017 it initially caused some issues with marshals because they would be telling scorers to put their phones away!

You go through 3 screens, the player selection, the club/lie selection, and the lie details. Player selection is obvious, tap the correct player. Lie/club selection is the most complicated, since it asks what type of club (driver, wood, or iron) the player is hitting for tee shots and instead asks for the lie (rough, fairway, fringe, green, bunker, etc.) if it's not the first shot of the hole. Finally the lie details screen just has you select the appropriate description for the player's stance (ball above feet, downhill lie, level, etc.) and the quality of the lie (is the ball sitting pretty or is it buried). It pretty much walks you through collecting all the data they have scorers collect in a surprisingly intuitive fashion, and when you're done advancing through those 3 screens (player selection, club/lie selection, and lie details) you just tap the big "Shot Hit" button to record the stroke. Penalty strokes are assessed automatically (hazards and other penalties are an option in the second "lie selection" screen), so it really is surprisingly simple considering all the data they're collecting for later use.

The best part of it, however, is that your responsibility as a scorer is to watch every shot up close and in person to confirm they really happened and are counted correctly. This means you've got, quite literally, the best "seat" in the house for the tournament since you're inside the ropes watching every shot from right next to the players and caddies. Other perks include the ability to play the course for free later, which should be also be fun. I've been lucky enough to play it once before already for free, but unfortunately the day I got to play was only 7 days after I had broken a rib so I'm definitely excited to play it again while healthy (without needing to pay the exorbitant green fee to do so).

Overall I'm looking forwards to it, it should be a fun week!

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That should be fun. I'm heading up to watch the tournament on Friday myself.

I'm actually going to be a walking scorer for the Mid-Am here in September. I don't think I'll have to collect all that data myself. I think for the Mid-Am, it's just getting the actual scores, but we'll see.

Did they give you a phone/device to do this or are you using your own phone?

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5 hours ago, DeadMan said:

Did they give you a phone/device to do this or are you using your own phone?

You use their devices for the event, likely as a method of handling permissions for pushing updates and such with scores.

1 hour ago, Club Rat said:

What App are they using?

Not sure what it's called, but it's definitely custom made for the PGA Tour. Here's a video that shows how the scoring works in more detail:

 

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4 hours ago, Pretzel said:

it's definitely custom made for the PGA Tour.

did a search for walking caddy and came up with an interesting read.

http://shotlink.com/about/media

Quote

This section contains ShotLink video highlights and articles on various platforms focusing on the vision of the system where ShotLink turns "knowledge into entertainment."

 The Inspiration for ShotLink?

 

 

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14 hours ago, Pretzel said:

You use their devices for the event, likely as a method of handling permissions for pushing updates and such with scores.

Not sure what it's called, but it's definitely custom made for the PGA Tour. Here's a video that shows how the scoring works in more detail:

 

Does it have a button where you can zap slow players and give them a mild shock?:-P

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16 hours ago, boogielicious said:

Does it have a button where you can zap slow players and give them a mild shock?:-P

No, but it does automatically time the players based on how long a gap there is between individual shots. I'll suggest the taser feature to the scoring committee when I go back on Saturday!

Today was quite a bit of walking in the heat. By quite a bit of walking, I mean it was almost 12 miles of walking and it was 95-97 degrees out the entire time. It was a great experience though, since it was fun to see the players up close like that and the people I was paired with were quite nice overall.

Admittedly, the scoring itself was only about 8.3 miles. After watching golf all day I had to stop at a course on my way home to get in a quick 9 since I had the urge. I shot -1 33 for 9 holes, so I'll go ahead and pretend like I would have beaten everybody in my group with their 70, 73, and 70 scores! 😁

SmartSelect_20190711-214115_Samsung Health.jpg

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A couple quick things I forgot to mention at the end of yesterday but wanted to share:

  • The scoring devices are all Galaxy S5's, and unfortunately some of them have limited battery life. We were instructed to put them into standby mode as much as possible to prevent them from dying mid-round, but over the radio you could still hear about several that did die. The PGA should probably update their scoring devices.
  • The scoring app is actually an entirely web-based application. It can be run in a fullscreen mode or just in a normal browser mode.
  • The two things above led to some wonky behavior where you'd have to wait 30-90 seconds to enter shots after waking up the device if the scoring app was set to full screen mode. If you left it in the normal browser mode it operated smoothly and seamlessly upon wakeup though. Definitely could use some work or just updated devices.

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10 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

A couple quick things I forgot to mention at the end of yesterday but wanted to share:

  • The scoring devices are all Galaxy S5's, and unfortunately some of them have limited battery life. We were instructed to put them into standby mode as much as possible to prevent them from dying mid-round, but over the radio you could still hear about several that did die. The PGA should probably update their scoring devices.

Wow, even I finally upgraded from my Galaxy S3 a few months ago ... 

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Scored again today and had fun, it was a bit less hot (thank goodness) compared to the first day thanks to an earlier start. Two of the scores in my group were 67 and 68, so there was definitely some solid golf to watch during my extended walk.

I have to say though, this course is quite the hike. I am, however, looking forwards to Monday since I have the first tee time the day after the tournament booked through a connection of mine. It will be fun to watch how the players do tomorrow and compare that to how I play on Monday.

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@Pretzel - what I have you thought of the course? I was there on Friday. It looks fairly straightforward until you get to the greens. Some of those greens complexes look crazy. 2, 15, 16, for example. I can't imagine stopping a long iron or wood on 15. 

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Had some more fun today as the second scorer for the 4th to final group. One of the players in my group, Harry Higgs, was tied for the lead at a point with a 5' putt on 16 to take him to 15 under par. He ended up at only 13 under, but it was still fun to be right up close with all that kind of action. The course itself, TPC Colorado, was nice enough to give all of us scorers some gift cards to the PGA Superstore, which was a nice touch.

On 7/13/2019 at 9:00 PM, DeadMan said:

@Pretzel - what I have you thought of the course? I was there on Friday. It looks fairly straightforward until you get to the greens. Some of those greens complexes look crazy. 2, 15, 16, for example. I can't imagine stopping a long iron or wood on 15. 

I enjoy the course, but I've also been able to play it once before coming here to score. It is somewhat straightforward, but like you said it's the greens that make things interesting.

2 is a tough one if the pin is in the back, because you have to land it just right in the gully in the middle of the green to get it up onto the back shelf without going off the back or coming back to the center of the green. 5's green is pretty safe to go for, but it can be tricky if you end up in the bail out area to the left since it's nearly 15 feet below the green. 6 is another green where small misses can turn into big ones, but at least those are usually happening on your tee shot. 8 is just super narrow and long. 11 has some interesting contours, but nothing too tricky. 12 has a bit of a bowl in the front left, and then a second one in the back right. 14 has a tough to reach back shelf, just because it's hard to get up there without going long (which is the worst place to be).

15, like you mentioned, is just crazy. You've got the upper shelf along the left and back right, with a lower shelf on the front right corner, and a drop off of nearly 25 feet down to the collection area with a STEEP hill on the front and right side of the green. The trick to 15, if you want to stop anything on it, is to hit a draw (for a right handed player) onto that lower shelf in the front right corner or hit a fade that lands short of the green and just behind the bunker on the left side of the green. Either works, but it's definitely tricky.

16 was fun to watch all week, because there are so many spots for the pin to go that let you feed the ball towards the hole. Today's pin location was on the far right and the ridge running straight behind the bunker allowed several players to hit it to within inches by coming back off that sideways ridge. The front left pin location can let you stick it right next to the hole, but if you land it short by even a yard or two you're straight off the false front. The back left pin position is great if you hit a wedge shot low that will roll out a little ways, and the drop is of course the most dramatic part of the hole (it's got probably a 100' or more drop from tee to green over only 140 yards).

The toughest green all week though, by far, was 17. IT was playing hard as a rock, and that made the pin positions on the right side of the green behind the bunker really tough. Balls that landed in the middle of the green still had a chance of bouncing/rolling up and off the back if the players didn't hit their shots high enough or with enough spin. 

What wasn't straightforward but also wasn't very obvious was the rough. It didn't look too bad even when you were seeing it in person, but it was THICK. It was thick enough that over the course of the week I found two balls by accident just from walking in the rough, and there were several searches of 1-3 minutes for balls in my group that ended up being found within 10 feet of the edge of the fairway. Dawie van der Walt, another of the players that tied for 3rd this week, on Thursday was one of those people with a buried ball that we had to search for a while to find. This guy is huge and strong to boot, and he still struggled to hit the ball further than about 75 yards from that stuff when it sat down deep.

Overall though it was just immaculate. I heard multiple comments from players that the greens were some of the best they'd ever played on, and a common sentiment was that it was a better course than most of the ones that they got to play on the Web.com/Korn Ferry tour. They definitely thought that a PGA event would likely come to play there if the course stayed in as good of shape and was fully developed (clubhouse finished, bathrooms built, etc.). It was a course, however, that most players didn't particularly like when they first saw it and it was really on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when the sentiment seemed to be turning around once the players had kind of figured the course out some more.

What I'm really looking forwards to is the 11:30 tee time I have to play a round there tomorrow, the first of the day while everything is still in tournament conditions. Apparently they are planning to try and keep the same conditions from the tournament (green speeds and rough length) for the rest of the year at the course, but we'll see how long that lasts once members are regularly playing it. 

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I got the chance to play the course today.

The rough is by far the hardest part of it all. The green were running faster than a municipal course, but they're super smooth and were overall manageable. They had some interesting shapes and features, but again nothing unmanageable. They were pretty firm, but you could just land most approach shots 5 yards shorter than you otherwise would and you'd be fine. The length was certainly long, but there was only one par 4 I had trouble reaching in regulation and only because I had a 20 mph headwind (it was #18, the hardest hole on the course throughout the tournament). It was windier than during the tournament, which certainly added to the challenge, but again you can account for that easy enough.

The rough though, that was something else. It was deep enough that balls hit could be lost without a large search effort. It was thick too, enough so that the first time my ball settled down deep I ended up hearing my back and shoulder pop when I made contact with the ball because the club just plain stopped. I was hitting a 6-iron out of it about as hard as I could and the clubhead legitimately never made it back out of the grass during the swing. Missing the fairway meant you were most likely going to have to scramble to get up and down because a GIR was unlikely. This is the only time I've legitimately thought it better to be even 20 yards (or more, in this case the rough was worth nearly 50 yards) further away in the fairway than being closer and in the rough.

It was fun overall though, and the greens are honestly the best part. They roll perfectly smooth and true, and it made putting a ton of fun all day long. Once you got used to the rough you could start hitting chips and pitch shots again without chunking them, but it just required some adjustment since you had to drop the clubhead onto the back of the ball much more steeply.

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