Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, Spring 2018

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TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT B Y D A N PA S Q U A R I E L L O A N D L A I R D S M A L L Playing the Par 3s ost golfers view par-3 holes as an opportunity to post a low number on their scorecard, yet the vast majority of golfers have trouble with the easy shorter holes. The 10- to 19-handicap- per is averaging almost a full stroke over par (3.9) on par 3s, while the 20- plus handicapper is almost a stroke-and-a-half over par (4.4). Why so much difficulty? For one, golf course architects tend to design a lot of trouble around these greens – primarily bunkers which are most of the time deep and difficult to get out of, or the golfer must pitch the ball up and over the bunker if they miss the green. These two shots are usually the most challenging for the average player. The golf course architect will often design a par 3 that changes in ele- vation, which makes club selection more difficult, or place the green against the horizon, which makes it difficult to judge the distance. The yardage will often be in between clubs, leaving the golfer to guess if it is a full shot or a touch shot with a longer club. And if that is not difficult enough, they sometimes put a water hazard around the hole, which for many players is a ball magnet! Here are a few helpful suggestions to help manage par-3 holes during your round. Create a Perfect Lie Ben Hogan was once asked if he teed the ball up on a par 3, and he said, "Son, I play for money." He teed the ball up because it gave him the best chance to make solid contact and knock the ball stiff. In the old days, you might see a player kick up a tuft of grass and place the ball on top, but with modern equipment today, it makes more sense to tee the ball up above the ground. How high should you tee it up? It depends on the size of the club head. With today's perimeter-weighted game-improvement irons, the sweet spot is generally higher on the clubface – about four grooves up – so you want to tee the ball up about a half-inch above the ground. Tee it up too low, and you're liable to catch the ball thin because there's so much mass to the sole of these clubs. Conversely, if you tee it up too high, you're likely to contact the ball near the top of the clubface and not hit it very far. Make a swing that brushes the turf or knocks the tee out from under the ball, and you're going to catch the sweet spot of the club more often than not and have a greater chance of hitting the ball the correct distance. Grip Down When Between Clubs While each of the par 3s at Pebble Beach is unique in its own way, one thing they all share is a tendency to leave you in between clubs. The targets are very small, which forces you to be very precise with your distance and requires some feel and imagination. The seventh hole, for example, plays only 98 yards downhill from the middle tees. It's not quite a full pitching wedge for most golfers, but it's too much distance to cover with a gap wedge. So what do you do? Most ama- teurs will take the longer of the two clubs (the gap wedge) and swing eas- ier, but that often forces a disconnection between the arms and body and leads to a thin shot. Most pros will take the shorter of the two clubs and swing harder, leaving the ball below the flagstick. But what you also see many pros do is grip down on the longer of the two clubs and swing away. This shortens the lever and makes the club perform less distance (about 7 yards for every inch you grip down). This is the method that we think makes the most sense for the amateur golfer, because it allows you to make your normal bread-and-butter swing without trying to squeeze a few more yards out of the club. It also eliminates the guesswork when you have to make a partial swing. Avoid Sucker Pins The lesson here is that whenever the flagstick is tucked in the corner of the green or in a very narrow landing area – what is commonly known as a "sucker pin" – don't go straight at the flag and put yourself in a position to make bogey or worse. Play aggressively to a more conservative target. Hit it to the wide part of the green. When Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth had their breakout years, they were both on the fat side of the hole 72.5 percent of the time. Give some of these ideas a try on your next round – we feel it could make a big difference in your score. Keep having fun learning and playing this great game! Please visit us at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy for more tips to increase your enjoyment level of the game; you can reach us at 831/622-8650. M 92 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 8

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