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What Would a Top Tour Pro Shoot on a Typical Public Course?


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I have always wondered this. I don't think the tour pros ever play very many courses geared towards the public. Even the courses like Bethpage, which are already difficult to begin with, are set up much harder for the PGA tournaments. So, if Tiger or Zach or Phil came to your local public course, what would they shoot?

My home course, from the tips, is only about 6,650 yds with a slope rating of 112 and a course rating of 69.7. My guess is that a top tour pro would birdie 3 of 4 par 3's and par the last, eagle 3 of 4 par 5's and birdie the last, and birdie eight of ten par 4's and par the last two. I know how good they are, but I have believe they would miss maybe two or three 10-15 foot putts in a round, or place an approach shot 20 feet away and not five feet every time. Also, I am going to assume they don't eagle any par 4's. Even though it is very possible for them to drive a few par 4 greens, getting it within 30 or so feet from the hole from 350 yds out is still pretty difficult. Afterall, they are human, right? Or maybe not.

Anyway, add that together and I come up with 54. So, I would say a rough rule of thumb is that they would typically go 15-20 strokes below par at a typical public course.

What do you think?
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I think we all know that there are certainly some advantages for the tour players; gallery backstops, signs, having people find a ball. But…who are we kiddin? They’re ridiculously good.

I know this is an old thread that recently got bumped (glad to see I didn't say anything dumb a decade+ ago), but in 2007, Steve Marino played a DC-area goat track: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-d

I feel old seeing that this thread is 4369 days old but this is relevant.   Bubba Watson playing at a public course.    

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Keep in mind that the fairways aren't as nice as they're used to, so they may get bad lies. The greens also aren't as consistent as the ones they play on tour, and may affect scores.

That having been said, Duffy Waldorf has the course record at a nearby public course - 63 at Woodley Lakes.
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I can't find the article off-hand, but I remember reading in the Washington Post an article by the Sports writer that played with some golfer due to play at Congressional for a tournament, at the sportswriter's public/home golf course.

Anyway, the pro golfer didn't do as well as he was expected to (low 60s, etc.) and complained about the "high" grass in the fairway didn't let him nip the ball perfectly like he's accustomed to, complained that the greens were too slow and not smooth or consistent. I believe there was some other complaints, too, about things we all would find commonplace at a public course.

Anyway, if memory serves, the article finally shares that that pro shot, I think, a 68 on par 72.
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All good comments. For the sake of this exercise, I am assuming that there are no hard pan areas and that the fairways are in pretty good shape.

I agree greens are the biggest difference and I am assuming that they would be rolling at about an 8.
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Several of my golfing friends have played with seniors who are not good enough to make it onto the senior tour. The typical report is that they usually shoot 4 under par most of the time. And that the tour wannabees shared that the players on the senior tour are a whole lot better than they are.
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I can't find the article off-hand, but I remember reading in the Washington Post an article by the Sports writer that played with some golfer due to play at Congressional for a tournament, at the sportswriter's public/home golf course.

I think it was steve marino

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the tourneys in hawaii werent exactly on 'public' courses so i cant say much for that...
well i can talk about torrey pines but youve seen that on tv...
now im in virginia beach and the course starter actually sold one of his beach houses to curtis strange... he's also been out fishing with him a bunch of times... needless to say theyve played together at our course and from what i hear the lowest he went was 10 under for a 62
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The pros have played Lake View CC (Arnie, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, etc.) and the course record is held by Lonnie Nielsen with a 62, I think. But most of them shot 68 or 69 or so.

Now, Lake View's a pretty good track - held some PA State Amateurs and whatnot - so I'm gonna say low to mid 60s at most public courses. They're shorter, more wide open, and with easier, flatter, slower greens.
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On average I would say 3-5 strokes below the course rating for a typical pro. The top end guys might be 4-6 strokes under.
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Probably anywhere as low as 60 to 70 on a bad day.

Really depends on the course though, I've played on some TOUGH public courses, and I've played on some that I can shoot a 75 on consistently as a 10 handicap. So, it all depends on the course, to be honest.
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I see the answers you guys have posted, but then I look at what they score on an easy tour course and they hand in 65-68's all the time. And those are for 7,000-yd courses with slope ratings in the 130's and course ratings in the mid-70's. On a public course like I described above, I've gotta think they could easily shave off another 6-8 strokes minimum and turn in something in the mid to high 50's.
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I see the answers you guys have posted, but then I look at what they score on an easy tour course and they hand in 65-68's all the time. And those are for 7,000-yd courses with slope ratings in the 130's and course ratings in the mid-70's. On a public course like I described above, I've gotta think they could easily shave off another 6-8 strokes minimum and turn in something in the mid to high 50's.

It'll all come down to shortgame (putting). They'll have more GIR's than a typical tour stop but I doubt your local muni greens are going to roll like your typical tour stop green.

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I see the answers you guys have posted, but then I look at what they score on an easy tour course and they hand in 65-68's all the time. And those are for 7,000-yd courses with slope ratings in the 130's and course ratings in the mid-70's. On a public course like I described above, I've gotta think they could easily shave off another 6-8 strokes minimum and turn in something in the mid to high 50's.

Yes, it seems like it would be that 'easy' but many would probably have a harder time adjusting to the really slow greens of your typical public course, which runs at like an 8.5 on the Stimp Meter. They would certainly shoot lower, but saying mid to high 50's is a little ridiculous...I highly doubt that. Maybe ONE round in the high 50's but it wouldn't be routine.

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no wind--the average pro would shoot six under

they might have some trouble with the greens on the average public course--the pros are used to putts rolling fast and true.
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They'll have more GIR's than a typical tour stop but I doubt your local muni greens are going to roll like your typical tour stop green.

Well then, I guess I do have one shot in my bag that bests the pros - the putt through green pudding.

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They wouldn't have ridiculously low scores for the reasons already stated. That's why we should all feel good about shooting a low score on our home courses because it's probably a pretty good/legit accomplishment.
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