2021 Palmetto Championship Preview

By Harris Oates

Palmetto Championship at Congaree | Congaree Golf Club | Ridgeland, South Carolina

Defending Champion: Inaugural Tournament

FedEx Cup Points: 500

Past Champions:

None

History of the Tournament

With the cancellation of the 2021 RBC Canadian Open due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the PGA selected Congaree Golf Club as the location for the newest Tour event. The Palmetto Championship was born and will shed light on the newly constructed course in Ridgeland, South Carolina that puts a twist on what it means to be a golf club. Congaree is indeed a private club, however, it has no known members outside of the founders. It was founded in 2017 by Dan Friedkin and the late Bob McNair (former owner of the Texans) with a vision to not only offer a premier golf experience but to have a well established charitable arm as well. Instead of members they have roughly 300 “ambassadors”, who are titans of industry or prominent figures in the surrounding areas. About a third of their ambassadors are honorary members who are or were PGA professionals.

The Congaree Foundation is most known for the Congaree Global Golf Initiative, in which 36 high school golfers from underserved backgrounds takes part in a week long clinic with some of the best golf coaches in the world. Congaree’s Director of Golf, Bruce Davidson states that the goal is “to get these kids into colleges in America, where they can study and earn a degree, and at the same time play golf”. Ridgeland, South Carolina remains one of the lowest income areas of the state, which further emphasizes the importance of charity for the club. Congaree is also involved with the Boys and Girls club among other local charities and emphasizes a charitable outlook and involvement amongst all ambassadors.

There is a deep rooted history connected to the grounds of Congaree. Not only do the original 100 acres have ties to being purchased with a grant from King George III in the 1770s, but the grounds fell victim to General Sherman’s March in 1865, as did most of the surrounding areas. For most of the 1900s the property was used for a Quail Hunting Preserve and in 1995 the property was the primary filming location for the epic Rom-Com Something to Talk About starring Julia Roberts and Dennis Quad (I had to watch it this week…for research purposes of course).

Ridgeland, South Carolina is situated smack dab in the middle of nowhere, however, both Hilton Head Island and Savanah are each just 40 miles away. The beautiful Congaree Golf Club was established in 2018 and failed landing the 2025 President’s Cup but will now see its first PGA Tour action this week.

Greatest Moments

Course Breakdown

The course is deemed as one of Tom Fazio’s greatest works. It is a Par 71 that is 7,685 yards with a course rating of 79.4 and a slope rating of 155. The Greens and Fairways are both Bermuda.

The course is ranked number 2 in South Carolina by Golf Digest and is behind only the Ocean Course at Kiawah (where Phil just won the PGA). It is not common that a brand new course climbs that high on the Golf Digest Rankings but Congaree even made it to number 39 nationally when it debuted.

Photo by Edward C. Robison III

Like many South Carolina courses, Congaree plays long and sandy. There are just 3 par 5s and two of them come in the first four holes, which sets the tone of a long day of golf. Despite having a few drivable par 4s, there are also a handful that are over 500 yards. The course will be a challenge off the tee for even the best drivers on tour due to the massive sand dunes that appear on roughly every hole. Bruce Davidson refers to the course as one of the “best second shot values in golf”.

Source: PGA of America

Field

Being just a week out from the U.S. Open we will see a weaker field than most PGA Events, however, there are several notable headliners. South Carolinian Dustin Johnson enters the week as the co-favorite, which he shares with Brooks Koepka. Other notable players include Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sungjae Im, Tommy Fleetwood and Harris English.

TV Schedule

Thursday: 3-7pm on the Golf Channel

Friday: 3-7pm on the Golf Channel

Saturday: 12-3pm on the Golf Channel, then 3-6pm on CBS

Sunday: 12-3pm on the Golf Channel, then 2:30-6pm on CBS

Also on PGA Tour Live Thursday-Friday: 7:45 am-6:30 pm (Featured Groups)

Saturday & Sunday: 8 am-3 pm (Featured Groups), 3-6 pm (Featured Holes)

Weather

Source: Weather.com

Just like the rest of the Southeast, it has been nothing but rain for the past week. Expect off and on showers that will cause a stoppage at some time.

Predicted Outright Winner

Harris: Brooks Koepka – as much as I’d love to see Tommy Fleetwood or Tyrell Hatton win, I think Koepka comes in hot after a few weeks off. He should be dialed in a week out from the U.S. Open.

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