Notes From a Round

I played nine holes yesterday, solo. This is what I learned, or reminded myself of.

My chipping clubs go from a 60* wedge to a 7-iron. On the fourth hole I was just off the front of a deep green with the pin in the back. That invites a pitch. But it was also perfect for a chip with an 8-iron. When you set up your chipping clubs, trust them.

On a par 5, I was about 240 yards from the hole after my drive. I pulled out a fairway wood, but reconsidered. It would take two shots, regardless, to get the ball on the green, so why not make it two easy shots? The FW went back into the bag and out came a 24* hybrid. That club, and an easy pitch got me on the green for two putts and an easy par, not a hard one.

Short putt, about eight feet, downhill. I am not a die-at-the-hole putter normally. But for putts like these, I am. I gave the ball a little tap, sending it slowly to the hole and catching the right lip on the last roll to fall in. Any more pace and the ball would have stayed out.

Ball in the rough off the tee, enough that I would have to go down and get it at impact. If you play the ball in the center of your stance, the grass will grab the clubhead and the ball won’t go very far, and you’ll never get the clubhead down to the bottom of the ball. Instead, play the ball back in your stance and employ a more vertical forward swing. Since the ball is back, the clubpath will still be a bit rightward at impact, so aim left of your target.

Forty feet from the flag, about five feet off the green on very short grass. With a long putt like this over grass at the start, the ball will be in its bouncing phase when crosses the grass, so there is no need to hit the ball harder to get it through the grass. Hit it like you would if the ball was on the green.

Read your chips as if they were approach putts. If you ignore slope, chips that go the right distance can get carried away from the hole by contours you didn’t take into consideration.

Reading the green: I read every putt over two feet putt at 30 feet from the hole. You can see slopes in the green that are not apparent when you read from right behind the ball. Also, do not overread short putts. The large majority of putts from about three feet in do not have to be played outside the hole.

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