Team Titleist was looking for some insider info on how to successfully traverse the grounds of TPC Louisiana this week, so we caught up with the 2010 Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion - Titleist Brand Ambassador Jason Bohn.
We asked the former champion what he believes the Keys To Success and throughout our conversation he stressed the importance of bringing a sound short game to the 7,425 yard par 72 layout that features over 100 bunkers and five water hazards that come into play on several holes.
"I believe the keys to winning this week will be a solid short game, success on the difficult par 3's, and navigating holes 3 through 6 in par or better for the week," said the University of Alabama graduate. "The fairways are pretty generous off the tee, so you want to take advantage of that and make approach shots into the green that give you the best chance at making birdies. The short chips into and around the green will be crucial because of the way they cut the grass, everything is into the grain."
Although the course stretches over 7,400 yards, Bohn doesn't consider it a 'bombers' course, where the shorter hitter doesn't have a chance. Last year, 19-under-par won the event, while Bohn won with an 18-under par 270. He expects this year's winning score will be similar.
"The course is a little soft and wet right now, but it normally plays firm and fast," said Bohn. "If it continues to dry out it brings a lot more players into the mix, and that is where the short game and putting come into play. When I won here, I think I only missed two or three of 52 putts inside 10-12 feet. Proximity to the hole and putting are the difference makers when it comes to winning any week out here."
When Bohn mentions the role the par 3's will play in the outcome, he is referring to the fact that all four play over 200 yards (221, 207, 216, 215), and water comes into play on three of them, including the finishing hole on the front nine.
"Depending on the wind and where they put the tee boxes, we could be hitting a different club on each of those holes every day," said Bohn. "You really have to think about how you are going to play those par 3's because you need to avoid the hazards, but also try and land the ball in a position on the green that gives you a good chance at birdie. The greens have subtle undulations and position is important."
While there is no moniker like some tour sites for the stretch of holes that Bohn considers the most difficult, he does think that if you play Nos. 3-6 in par or better for the week, you will have a good chance to be in the hunt.
"Unlike some courses where the most difficult holes are coming down the stretch or on the back nine, you have to be focused right out of the gate," said Bohn. "Three of the four holes have water, starting with the longest par 3 on the course (221 yard No. 3), with a hazard all the way down the right hand side."
The No. 4 hole is the longest par 4 on the front side (482 yards) where you have to position your drive properly to have a decent shot into the green. Water could also come into play on the right on that tee shot. The 5th hole is a 438-yard dogleg left with sand lining the length of the landing area along the left side. The 6th hole is another long (476 yards) dogleg left with water stretching the length of the hole down the left side of the landing area.
"The tee shot is the key to navigating through those four holes," said Bohn. "There is a major hazard on every hole and if you stray in the wrong direction off the tee you will pay a consequence. I'll be happy if I can be a cumulative even par or better for those 16 holes over the four days."
The signature hole on the golf course is the 585-yard, par-5, 18th hole, where water is in play for the entire right side of the hole, making for a challenging and potentially dramatic finish for the leaders.
Bohn is scheduled to tee off at high noon on Thursday with fellow Titleist golf ball loyalists John Huh and Chad Campbell. The trio will be the first to put the peg in the ground on Friday at 7:00 a.m.
WHAT’S IN JASON BOHN'S BAG
Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist 915D2 driver (9.5º)
Fairway: Titleist 915F fairway metal (15.0º)
Hybrid: Titleist 915Hd hybrid (20.5º)
Irons: Titleist AP1 714 irons (4,5) and AP2 714 irons (6-9)
Wedges: Vokey Design SM5, pitching (46.10 F-grind), gap (50.12 F-grind), sand (54.14 F-grind) and lob (58.07 S-grind) wedges
Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS 350 putter