MASTER THE PARKLAND

By definition parkland, or inland golf courses are everything that links golf isn’t. Soft turf, shallow bunkers, water hazards and receptive greens are the norm world wide. We can see a trend on tour towards thick rough surrounding the slick greens. This tends to give TV viewers a similar impression of most courses, players swinging at it hard close to the green with a degree of uncertainty about the lie. In this article we will try and give you the insight that TV doesn’t and how this can rub off on your own game.

The major tournaments play the toughest all year. What makes Pebble Beach Golf Club so much tougher in a US Open than in the regular tour event in February? In Scotland, why is the scoring so much better at St Andrews during the Dunhill tournament than during The Open Championship? The first step taken is to reduce landing areas, narrow the fairways and thicken the rough. In the US

The first step taken is to reduce landing areas, narrow the fairways and thicken the rough. In the US Open it is generally so thick that you can only play a shot similar to what Tiger is attempting below. A fierce hack with a restricted follow-through to get it back in play.

The first step taken is to reduce landing areas, narrow the fairways and thicken the rough. In the US Open it is generally so thick that you can only play a shot similar to what Tiger is attempting below. A fierce hack with a restricted follow-through to get it back in play.

Tiger woods from the rough

What really sends the scores backwards is firm greens and protected pins. These attributes make recovering from a wayward shot much less likely without the holing of a long putt. Stopping the ball anywhere near the flag requires a sublime strike of the ball combined with height. That ability to launch your irons high and land soft is often cited as Jack Nicklaus, Rory Mcilroy and Tiger Wood’s greatest asset in major championships.

Stopping the ball anywhere near the flag requires a sublime strike of the ball combined with height. That ability to launch your irons high and land soft is often cited as Jack Nicklaus, Rory Mcilroy and Tiger Wood’s greatest asset in major championships.

I have painted a picture of difficulty here. What of the ‘normal’ courses they play in regular events when they reach figures of 22 under par? More similar to the courses you may play yourself, what can we say are the key principles to inland golf for the average golfer?

 TREES

USE THE DRIVER!

With shorter and less penalising rough, use your driver as often as possible. Distance is everything when the ground is soft as even from the rough you will be able to have a degree of control attacking the green. Trees can be troublesome but they usually allow for a recovery back to the fairway – do not be intimidated into constant safety style tee shots on a tree lined course.

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AVOID BIG TROUBLE AND A BIG NUMBER

As your own strategist you must decide what the biggest danger is on a hole related to your strength weaknesses. For instance you may hit the ball relatively straight but lack consistent contact. Taking a risk to carry a water hazard off the tee or into the green is unadvisable in this situation. Aiming away from trouble off the tee is a common advisable tactic for most players.

However this rarely done when approaching the green. The temptation of the flag proves too great and they attack the flag. Its important, even as pro’s, to factor in a margin of error. A front flag generally leaves twenty yards to the back of the green.

Why not play for a yardage towards the back of the green and when you do not strike the perfect shot, a birdie putt still awaits. Finding a deep bunker close to the pin can spell a big number for most golfers. The better your strategy, the bigger your margin of error.

 

THINKING AHEAD ON THE GREENS

Even on the greens, you must think ahead. Inland courses generally make up for their benign softness with more complex green structures. Putting up, down or across these big ridges requires excellent touch. Add some strategy to your putting by thinking ahead.

Make your second putt much easier by leaving yourself an uphill reply. Would you rather caress a two footer down a hill or firmly knock an uphill four footer in?

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