NAV­I­GA­TION

Strat­egy for doglegs.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By Ron Kaspriske

You say you can drive it 300 me­tres, but the last time you did it the hole was down­hill, down­wind and the ball car­omed o the cart­path.You say you shoot in the low 80s, but you haven’t carded an 85 or bet­ter with­out two mul­li­gans and a few gen­er­ous gimme putts in about four years.When the ques­tion about what tees to play is asked, you’re al­ready walk­ing back to the blues or blacks. See where this is go­ing? When it comes to this game, many golfers aren’t ex­actly hon­est about their cur­rent abil­i­ties – es­pe­cially when assess­ing their next shot. A com­mon men­tal block is how best to play a dog­leg hole with real trou­ble on ei­ther side of the fair­way, says in­struc­tor Sean Fo­ley.

“The ball tails o to the right for most of the golfers I see, so does it make any sense for them to stand on the tee box of a dogle­gleft hole and try to curve their drive in that di­rec­tion? No, but a lot of times they still try,” says Fo­ley, a Golf Di­gest 50 Best Teacher. “What they should be do­ing is think­ing of how to play the hole to the best of their abil­i­ties. In many cases, that means tak­ing a shorter club, one that doesn’t peel o to the right as much, and just get­ting some­thing out in the fair­way.

“The re­al­ity is, some­times the best you can do is give your­self a chance at a one-putt par.You have to ac­cept that your game isn’t de­signed for cer­tain holes, so your plan­ning should change from How do I get home in reg­u­la­tion? to How do I avoid mak­ing dou­ble bo­gey?”

That’s good ad­vice, says sport psy­chol­o­gist Bob Rotella.Too of­ten a vis­ually in­tim­i­dat­ing hole, one that looks like it ne­ces­si­tates a speci c type of drive, can cause golfers to di­vert from their strengths. Bad move.

“Men­tally, you’ve got to stick with your game. Don’t let the shape of a hole solely dic­tate your strat­egy,” he says.“I wouldn’t try to hit a shot I didn’t know or usu­ally play.If a driver doesn’t t the hole, hit a 3-wood. If a 3-wood doesn’t

t, hit a hy­brid, and so on. Do what­ever it takes to put the ball in play. But be clear and com­mit to what­ever shot you de­cide.”

If you can’t curve the ball to match the hole’s shape, an­other op­tion is to use driver, but play for the “best miss,” says Hall of Fame golfer Tom Wat­son. If you an­a­lyze a hole care­fully, that miss should be ev­i­dent.

“When curv­ing the ball away from the dog­leg, the fair­way be­comes a smaller tar­get,”Wat­son says.“The golfer must then think about where it’s best to miss the fair­way, and this in­volves a lot of cri­te­ria such as length of the rough, where the ag­stick is lo­cated, etc. For ex­am­ple, short­en­ing the hole by miss­ing in the in­te­rior rough some­times can be a good op­tion when plan­ning your tee shot, but not on PineVal­ley’s par-4 sixth, the hole you see here.”

If you’re skilled enough to be able to shape your tee shot with the dog­leg, then con­sider how much of it you want to take on, Wat­son says.An ac­cu­rate dis­tance mea­sure­ment to the part of the fair­way you want to hit is key, but so is that whole thing about be­ing hon­est with your­self.

“Know­ing how far you have to carry the ball to clear a dog­leg’s in­te­rior rough or in­te­rior bunker is not usu­ally thought about by most golfers, but it’s crit­i­cal,”Wat­son says.“That be­ing said, most golfers don’t know how far they carry the ball with a driver, which is im­por­tant in de­cid­ing the line to take when cut­ting the cor­ner on a dog­leg.”

That’s why it’s best to be gen­er­ous with your tar­get line, Fo­ley says.

“If it’s a 200-me­tre carry and your best drives carry about 210 me­tres, you prob­a­bly want to take a less risky route,” Fo­ley says.“Bet­ter to be fur­ther back in the fair­way than try­ing to re­cover from be­ing too ag­gres­sive with your line.The penalty for not mak­ing it on a dog­leg is usu­ally pretty se­vere.”

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