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Drive-in Theater 🚘

Published about 1 month agoΒ β€’Β 5 min read

Donald's delight

The LPGA heads west across Florida from Orlando to just south of the Tampa region to play the LPGA Drive On Championship. This event is sponsored and run by the LPGA. The third edition will be contested at Bradenton Country Club. Yet to find a home, the first year it was played in Florida. Last year, they took the association event to Arizona. We're back in Florida and rounding out a brief Sunshine State swing to start the 2024 season. The first full field event on the schedule, American based players need to get started.

The next event on the LPGA calendar takes place in Thailand near the end of February. Since many of the tour's players haven't competed since early November, it's time to end their offseason. The field of 120 players will be competing for $1.75 million dollars. The top 65 and ties play the weekend, while our winner will take home $262,500. Fourteen of the top 25 in the Rolex Rankings are here as well as more than half the field from the HGVTOC at Lake Nona.

Drive On starts in...

Count down to 2024-01-25T12:00:00.000Z​

It helps to have four tournament rounds under your belt and our betting card will reflect that. Lake Nona was a chilly tough test. Those who were under par played well over 72-holes. Again, the historically good Florida golfers showed up. It's tough to look at the history of this event for two reasons. First, it keeps moving from venue to venue. Not only that, but Florida and Arizona golf are quite different. The second, it is only two years old! Bradenton Country Club is an old Florida course. The famous classic architect Donald Ross did a bunch of work in and around Tampa during the 1920s.

Bradenton Country Club is one of his classic designs. Pelican Golf Club is another one of his courses in the region. You will recognize that name because the LPGA plays their β€œAnnika” event there in early November. For many of these women, that was probably the last tournament they competed in if they didn't qualify for the tour championship. Ross designs are delightful and devious. This par 71 layout extends 6,526 yards for the women this week.

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Course conditions

​Bradenton Country Club​

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TV/Streaming

​Coverage times​

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Real-time weather

​Bradenton, FL​

Short and sweet

Like so many Donald Ross courses, BCC is known for its green complexes. Beautifully bunkered these push up greens will test the world's best women from 50 yards and in. My research on BCC found a masterful set of green surfaces as well. The ladies who just competed in Orlando will be ready for them. Lake Nona's putting surfaces were like lightning. Everyone was commenting on the speed. Just one more reason why those in the TOC should have an edge over those just getting their season started. The greens average 5,800 sq/ft which is pretty small for tour standards.

Miss those targets and you're in trouble. The elevated putting surfaces have plenty of run offs and bunkers. We are still in Florida, so Bermudagrass covers them. Certain LPGA players are just really good in Florida. We played some last week, and again this week. Even more than the men, the Bermudagrass players really stand out on the LPGA. When you see BCC for the first time, two things stand out: water and sand. Fifty-three bunkers cover the course, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Some of these sandy areas are hundreds of yards long.

The course looks like Congaree which we have covered for the PGA TOUR on two occasions. There are acres of sand everywhere. If you don't see sand, then there's water. On twelve holes water comes into play, but you can see water running across the whole course. Accuracy will be very important off the tee. Players will not be able to make the weekend if they are consistently playing from the sand. If you have played BCC, don't get confused. The LPGA has flipped the nines. This leaves only one par 5 on the back nine and six really strong par 4s.

One factor that will help the players hit more fairways is the amount of rain this region has received in the last three weeks. Nearly four and half inches have fallen which will make all the landing zones soft. I don't believe it will dramatically affect how long it plays but it will affect roll out and help keep the ball in play. Those players who can take advantage of the softness and find those fairways will have a solid start on winning.

Our card this week is made up of great Florida players. I'm worried about the greens and the area around them. I am heavily favoring short game and scrambling. Putting on Bermudagrass is also very valuable. There's so much sand on this course I also looked at everyone's sand save percentage. You are going to find some sand this week. When you do on approach or from close range, you need to perform. Those eleven par 4s catch my attention. They average almost 400 yards in length and almost all of them have water in play.

Players looking to win will need to separate themselves and I see it happening on those holes. Classic courses are always a great test. Unlike when the PGA TOUR visits, these creative layouts get to remain intact. Architects don't have to stretch them beyond their original design features. BCC is located right in the center of Bradenton. The community is excited the LPGA is coming to town and I believe the energy around BCC will create a great atmosphere. Enjoy the world's best women this weekend, because as I said in the beginning, we won't see (or bet) them again for another month!

Outright winners - LPGA Drive On Championship

2023 was a breakout season for Celine Boutier and it started when she won the 2023 Drive On Championship.

  • Boutier is ranked first on the LPGA for scrambling. The whole tour!
  • Runner-up for player of the year, we won't see her odds in the 20s much all season, let's take advantage.
  • Excellent around the green, fantastic in the sand, and with her putter. Her top 5 approach game will create birdie chances.

She was born in Ireland, but Leona Maguire always plays great in Florida. She absolutely loves playing on Bermudagrass.

  • A top 5 short game in the field and scrambler on tour.
  • Maguire's elite approach game makes her very effective on par 4s.
  • Her first LPGA win came two years ago in this area of Florida. Leona's not super long, so BCC is a place where she definitely can win.

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