If the architect who designed the hole you are playing is worth his salt, he probably asked an important question. That question… is there strategy to how you might play the hole. If you are interested in architecture, here is a good way to know if the designer was presenting you with options, or shall we call it golf strategy.
Stand on a green, look at the contours, look at the trouble around it. Look at the depth of the green, the direction it slopes….take it all in. Now, decide this…if I was going to play a shot into this green, maybe downwind, crosswind, into the wind; where is the perfect angle to come in from? The perfect angle generally is the lowest stress approach.
Now walk back into the fairway to the spot you have decided is the ideal approach. If you are standing in a bunker, on a side slope, in a path of moguls, near a creek, near a cliff…then you are playing a strategically designed golf hole. The architect has asked a simple question. If you want to have an easy approach, then you must hit your tee ball in this perilous area. You will be rewarded, but you must take on the risk.
Your alternative, is hitting over to the other side of the fairway. No trouble over there, tee ball is low stress, but you have no angle coming into the green. Now the anxiety rises as you are asked to perform a much tougher approach to earn a realistic putt. This is what makes golf so interesting.
The reason good players are good players, is because they can see these things. They understand when to be offensive, and when they need to be defensive. They can assess when an architect is posing a challenge. They can also see when the architect has created no strategy decision what so ever. This is the opportunity to get very aggressive.
Sometimes There’s A Lack of Strategy
Let me provide a quick example. The 2nd hole at RSPGL is usually regarded as tough hole. Water all down the right, skinny green, well bunkered on the right, that opens best to a shot from the left rough. Boom, I spilled the beans already. If you walked back from the green, you would see the best place to be is the left rough. There are no bunkers there, far away from the water, great angle, gets more help from prevailing breeze, and there is no stress when you hit the tee ball. There is no risk / reward option. The play is very clear. Pretty cool, this an opportunity hole. #13 is the complete opposite. We’ll talk about that another time.
It comes down to two simple questions:
- Where should I hit it?
- Where is the beverage cart?
- Both present options, and both have consequences.