The RBC Canadian Open has moved from Glen Abbey to Hamilton Golf and Country Club. This is a fairly new course for hosting events since it last hosted the Canadian Open in 2012, but also in 2003 and 2006.
With very little data to go off, it can make things challenging to dissect, so let’s dive in.
Hamilton Golf and Country Club is a short 6,966-yard, par-70 course, so distance probably won’t be a factor this week. Looking at Data Golf’s historical event data from 2012, most of the scoring was driven from putting and golfer’s approach games. Strokes Gained: Approach was shown to be relatively neutral compared to the average tour event but with the smaller than average green sizes, I’ll be leaning on that metric rather heavily since we don’t have much data to go off.
Since 2012, Hamilton has gone under some renovations. Most notably, they removed more than 1,000 trees from their grounds. The weather could warrant attention. Here’s what Rhod Trainor, their superintendent, told GCM:
If there is any significant rain leading up to the tournament, Trainor says the course will lose some of its edge and its key defenses, and the PGA Tour players will be firing at pins. “When our greens and fairways get wet,” he says, “they don’t dry out quickly.”
As of writing, there is rain in the forecast on Tuesday and Wednesday. If they get a substantial amount of rain and the course doesn’t quite dry out, the golfers could get ideal scoring conditions. Trainor also told GCM that the slope of the greens makes it difficult to find pin locations that aren’t too penal for the golfers. So, if pin locations are easy, this could be a birdie fest.
Hamilton also features narrow fairways and “substantial rough,” per Trainor. The narrow fairways will put less of an emphasis on bombers and it could lean more like an accuracy course. However, the massive tree removal could help negate some of that, and the bombers could just opt to club down as well.
With only two par 5s on the course, a premium should be placed on par-4 scoring, but golfers will still need to capitalize on the par 5s. There are seven par 4s that are between 400 and 450 yards, along with a drivable 318-yard par 4 on hole No. 5. It’s a true risk/reward hole as it’s a slight dogleg right with bunkers lining the right side.
Hamilton seems like a course where golfers who are solid ball strikers with strong approach games should succeed — so players like Henrik Stenson, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar. But golfers like Brandt Snedeker who make up most of their strokes around the green, could struggle. Granted, Snedeker is an elite putter with an excellent short game which helps mask his struggles when his approach game isn’t on point.
Key metrics to focus on: Greens in regulation, Strokes Gained: Approach, par-4 and par-5 scoring, birdie scoring, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.
And as usual, I like Long-Term (LT) and Recent Adjusted Round Score (Adj Rd Score) as catch-all metrics.
Pictured above: Henrik Stenson
Photo credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports