570 feet is too long for a FPO Par 3 hole. Fiesta Lakes hole 6 was a 570ft/174m par 3 hole and none of the top women in the sport reached the green in regulation at the 2017 Memorial Championship presented by Discraft. The 510ft hole 15 at Fiesta Lakes yielded similar stats.
UDisc Live has detailed statistics for every course and hole played on the pro tour. Stats can be viewed and sorted by round by clicking the ‘Hole Stats’ tab on the scoring pages. From the hole stats table you can also click a row to access a even more detail including a map of the hole.
With 7 completed DGPT tournaments, we can begin to analyze the hole data to look for some insights.
I pulled the hole stats for 2016 and the first two events of 2017 and plotted the relationship of hole length to Circle 2 in Regulation. Reaching Circle 2 in Regulation on a par 3 requires landing within 20m/66ft of the pin on your drive and having a putt opportunity for birdie.
Hole length is just one factor of hole design and the correlation shouldn’t be anywhere near linear but when comparing the C2 in Regulation rates by distance there is a noticeable trend.
The FPO plot shows a steep decline in reaching Circle 2 on holes longer than 400ft (120m). On nearly all holes longer than 400ft, below 25% of FPO competitors reached circle 2 on their drive. The two holes above 500ft had no players reaching the green in regulation.
Looking at the MPO plot, there is still a downward trend with distance but no sharp drop-off and only a single hole with 0% reaching C2 in regulation. For the MPO field, the long holes serve to separate players like Simon Lizotte and Ricky Wysocki from the field. Both Simon and Ricky were among the handful of MPO players to birdie hole 6 at Fiesta Lakes.
The MPO and FPO fields both played from identical tees at the Memorial and Waco but in 2016 some events elected to have the women play from shorter tees or different courses.
The trend is similar for Par 4 holes.
On Par 4 holes where players have two throws to reach the green, the FPO plot shows is a steep decline in Circle 2 in Regulation percentage for the longer holes. The women perform well on the more technical shorter par 4s but fare worse on long holes that require two consecutive full-power drives.
The MPO chart shows a modest correlation without a drop off as a large percentage of the field is able to reach the green successfully with two throws on 800ft par 4 holes.
When researching this article I found the PDGA Skill Guidelines for tees by rating level. The guidelines recommend Gold Tees for players rated above 969. There are currently no FPO players meeting that criteria, though Catrina Allen isn’t far off with a 968.
Distance is just one of many considerations in good hole design. If a very small percentage the field is reaching the green in regulation, the hole may be too long for that division.