Why tour pros rarely go for this par 5 in two at TPC Deere Run
The John Deere Classic began in 1971 as the Quad Cities Open (named for the four cities—Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island and Moline—that border the Iowa and Illinois sides of the Mississippi River, respectively). It moved to its current home, TPC Deere Run, in 2000, a layout designed at that time by former PGA Tour player D.A. Weibring and design partner Steve Wolfard. The architecture is befitting of a course that came off the desk of a tour pro and was calibrated to host a professional event: Though the strength of the field is typically diluted given the tournament’s traditional place on the schedule the week before the Open Championship, it’s a venue the players who participate in the John Deere Classic love.
The routing constantly switches directions as it winds through a wooded property near Rock River, and most holes have some degree of left-to-right or right-to-left movement caused by doglegs and bunkers. At just over 7,200 yards and yielding winning scores around 20-under, it’s an attractive test for shorter players who like to work the ball as well as for those in dire need of seeing plenty of birdies on their card. One hole that isn’t short and doesn’t require much shot-shaping, however, is the long 10th, an unassuming but notable par 5.
Watch 2019 John Deere Classic champion Dylan Frittelli explain why TPC Deere Run's 10th hole is such an interesting design:
The 10th is a hole that could exist on almost any course in the Midwest or the Plains. It’s a straight-shot par 5 that begins on a level meadow and finishes in a hollow where the wind can swirl. It plays between 575 and 610 yards with a large fairway bunker pushing into the right side of the fairway at the 280 to 325 mark. The identifying feature of the hole, however, is a lake that juts into the fairway 60 yards short of the green and runs up tight along the right side of the putting surface, and additional bunkers on the left pinch the second landing zone and green even further.
WHY IT MATTERS
The hole is simple in format: The first bunker guards the drive, and the water hazard and an embankment of rough and bunkers protect each side of the green and layup zone. It calls for a drive in the fairway to have a shot at reaching the green in two. That’s the ideal play—knowing that tour pros mostly strive to go for a par 5 two.
Yet there’s hidden complexity at TPC Deere Run’s 10th. The combination of length and the water hazard can give players a level of pause they’re not accustomed to. If conditions are firm and drives can travel 325 yards or more, going for the green would seem an easy decision. But drives hit in the 290- to 310-yard range leave hybrid or even a fairway metal second shot of 290 or longer (and the driving average the past five tournaments is just 286 yards). At that length and with water lurking, dispersion patterns are not in their favor, and laying up and trying to make birdie the hard way becomes the percentage play even for tee shots that find the short grass. That’s a proposition that can be aggravating for a hole that, on the card, looks like a full stroke gained.
Players do make birdies at the 10th—since 2015 it’s played to a stroke average of 4.77. They just do so by stuffing wedges close. In fact, over the previous five John Deere Classics, only 165 players have attempted to go for the green in two shots—just 8 percent—making the 10th the least attacked par 5 on tour. Of those attempts, only 33 have found the putting surface. Tour pros are usually content to miss greens and get up and down for birdies on par 5s, but water lurking closely left or right on a particularly long shot—as opposed to water short, which they know they can carry—well, that’s a gamble that’s often too rich for their blood.
(Green-reading map: Courtesy of StrackaLine)