Torrance Course, Fairmont St Andrews, Scotland. Designer: Sam Torrance, 2001 with 2009 updates from Gary Stephenson; Course Type: Links Style, Coastal; Par: 72; Length: 7,230 yards from back tees; Fairways: Bentgrass, Fescue, Rye; Rough: Mainly Fescue, some Bentgrass & Rye; Greens: Fescue, Bentgrass mix.
Course Overview. Originally agricultural land, Sam Torrance carved out a links-style track here in 2001 that looks like it’s been around for many decades. The par 72 hosted 6 Senior Scottish Opens between 2009-14 where it played to 6,802 yards, however from the back tees it can stretch to 7,230 yards.
Although this won’t be classified as a links track by the purists due to its 21st century manufacturing, it looks and plays like a links, so for simplicity let’s call it a links track, albeit a modern one. Cliff-top holes that flank the sea are particularly susceptible to the elements and classical pot bunkers are ready to gobble up any stray drives and approach shots.
Fairways are wide enough and exposed in nature as you might expect, with reasonably speedy Fescue/Bentgrass mix greens that are smooth and true. Aprons in front of some greens allow running shots into greens and in general the course offers both risk and reward options as well as creative choices to play holes in a variety of ways.
Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s Scottish Championship, however as mentioned above, this is the first European Tour event being held at the venue: Current Form
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here. Despite the European Tour testing the patience of the golfing weather gods by scheduling an event for the middle of October in Scotland, it looks like we’re going to be relatively luck here this week with a largely dry forecast due to high pressure dominating the weather pattern.
Winds will be 10-15mph from the East which will make the top temperatures of 10-12 Celsius feel a few degrees or so cooler, however it could be far, far worse at this time of year so the players should be thankful and scoring should be relatively good.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Although there have been no European Tour events held here at Fairmont St Andrews to date, the Seniors have played here in the relatively recent past for their Scottish Open and skill stats were captured for the 6 events in question:
- 2014, Mark Davis (-5). 260 yards (26th), 73.8% fairways (34th), 64.8% greens in regulation (45th), 57.9% scrambling (8th), 1.66 putts per GIR (2nd).
- 2013, Santiago Luna (-5). 271 yards (12th), 57.1% fairways (64th), 74.1% greens in regulation (19th), 64.3% scrambling (3rd), 1.85 putts per GIR (24th).
- 2012, Anders Forsbrand (-17). 268 yards (22nd), 69.0% fairways (51st), 87.0% greens in regulation (3rd), 57.1% scrambling (19th), 1.72 putts per GIR (11th).
- 2011, Barry Lane (-14). 268 yards (7th), 83.3% fairways (14th), 77.8% greens in regulation (13th), 66.7% scrambling (19th), 1.64 putts per GIR (2nd).
- 2010, Barry Lane (-4). 293 yards (11th), 59.5% fairways (58th), 75.9% greens in regulation (3rd), 53.8% scrambling (9th), 1.80 putts per GIR (10th).
- 2009, Glenn Ralph (-8). 265 yards (10th), 88.1% fairways (8th), 81.5% greens in regulation (8th), 60.0% scrambling (13th), 1.77 putts per GIR (7th).
When the elements close in around these parts, it’s clear that Fairmont can be a formidable test – Mark Davis in 2014 and Barry Lane in 2010 were the only players under par (3 rounds) when winning their respective events. In calmer conditions, Anders Forsbrand got to 17-under through 54 holes and Barry Lane defended in 2011 at 14-under, so clearly the course is only as difficult as conditions dictate.
Greens are generally quite easy to hit here, except in the most difficult of conditions, and fairways are quite generous which puts the emphasis on performance on and around these greens, as so often is the case on links tracks. All 6 winners detailed above sat inside the top-20 for Scrambling on the week and 5 of the 6 winners ranked 11th or better for putting average, with the outlier being Santiago Luna who was 24th.
All 6 men ranked 26th or better for Driving Distance and although the absolute numbers are lower with it being the Senior Tour, it’s all relative with a shorter course setup back then and the suspicion is that controlled power off the tee will help set up birdie-yielding approach shots with less club in players’ hands.
Incoming Form: Clearly this data can be taken with a pinch of salt, however Mark Davis aside, the winners of the Senior events held here had all recorded at least one top-10 finish in their previous 5 starts:
- 2014, Mark Davis: MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/36/MC
- 2013, Santiago Luna: 64/MC/MC/21/26/8/48/38
- 2012, Anders Forsbrand: 16/51/10/2/42/11/4/40
- 2011, Barry Lane: 50/20/9/5/42/14/5/17
- 2010, Barry Lane: MC/MC/46/2/MC/12/30/MC
- 2009, Glenn Ralph: 11/35/10/49/10/31/71/62
Although a new track to the European Tour, there are a few clues to guide us this week, both from the course itself as well as the events held here on the Senior Tour.
Links tracks appeal to some players more than others, plus the cooler weather and a moderate breeze – no doubt accentuated by the fact it’s blowing directly off of the sea this week – helps us to narrow the field. Fescue/Bentgrass-based greens are also a more common feature of this type of course than inland tracks and also suggest that those who’ve played well on similar setups may be more comfortable here.
The Senior events held here at Fairmont St Andrews would also suggest that longer than average players from off the tee may also prosper, as will those who are more adept with their chipping and putting, seeing as GIR stats are generally high in all but the trickiest of conditions.
My final selections are as follows: