In the second part of my guide to the 2018 Masters is focussed on the Augusta National course is what challenges face the players and what the course demands and what you need in your game to claim the green jacket.
The first part is patience which is a huge part to playing Augusta as one essential part of the tee is to put the ball in the right spots on the fairway but also to know when to attack certain flags.
Ten times in every round you will be faced with a shot, where if your too aggressive with it you will end up with a bogey at best you simply have to know when to rein back and play safe. If you get too aggressive you will make mistakes and then your chasing and certainly more will follow.
At Augusta your faced with so many shots from different lies, uphill, downhill and sideways and its not often you will have a flat lie to hit from.
It’s also well know that the course speeds up as the week progresses and they will also tighten up the fringes and areas around the greens.
Speaking of the greens this is a whole different ball game where you will need amazing touch and also finding the right spot to give the best putt, it’s well documented that you may only have a area 3 feet to stop the ball on to allow the best chance of a putt.
If you have 40ft putts you simply won’t have any chance and a miss by a few inches could leave a 25ft putt with 10ft of break!
What matters most is to be having a second shot with a short enough club to be able to stop the ball in those spots so one key is being able to hit a high shot so where Rory mcilroy has an advantage!
So, it can be taken that you need to be long and accurate of the tee to find the plateaus to approach the greens with a high shot with a short club to stop the ball in a small area no bigger than a manhole cover at best. Remember Augusta is a 2nd shot course.
The toughest holes at Augusta
The obvious ones that jump out in front is amen corners infamous 11th,12th and 13th.
There are certain holes at Augusta that you simply can’t bully and they are the 1st,3rd,7th and 14th holes, you can get ahead there with a great short game to be able to get up and down.
The tee shot on 4 has a reputation as one of the hardest tee shots on the course with the unpredictable swirling winds making the shot extra hard just like the 12th.
The 7th is a golfers nightmare as there is no real definition to the hole itself off the tee so its hard to work any kind of shot.
So 3 of the real ball stirkers holes are 10,11,12 they contain 5 of the most huge shots of the round and will punish any bad strikes and with just one bad shot you will get rewarded with a possible double bogey if your lucky!
Now to the infamous 12th hole and that fear inducing tee shot where its so hard for even the best to pick the swirling winds and as we have seen in the past can destroy not just any round but also any hope of claiming the green jacket with it. Everyone would agree one of the prettiest holes in golf but one of the deadliest and if you cant work the ball then expect a difficult time making par.
14TH is another hole that don’t look much but again is one of the tougher tee shots , the fairway maybe wide but where the fairway goes right to left you need a good draw off the tee and a 3 wood makes the 2nd shot longer into a difficult green.
Now just a little guide on how to play the famous amen corner starting at number 11 and one of the toughest holes on the course and maybe the hardest tee shot knowing your starting amen corner especially if you have a good score going and in contention.
11th 505 yards par 4
So a long straight shot is required off the tee to make it a easier 2nd shot which is aimed at the middle of the 3 trees behind the green and the left half of the bunker again a good strike is needed to land before the green as if you land on the green which slopes away, you will struggle to hold it so you need to get one to trickle onto the green , most do bail out right but its not a easy up and down from there.
12th 155 yards par 3
So the infamous hole to Augusta the shortest hole on the course but one that demands the upmost respect and for most the aim is simply to get out of there with a par and the ideal approach here would be to hit to a specific number and not the pin itself sure you may not be the pin but you will be safe on the green and have a chance for birdie and a safe par which is not a bad score and if you bag a birdie then it’s a huge bonus.
13th 510 yards par 5
Now a eagle opportunity could await if you commit to the tee shot and get a good one away will set up a mid-iron approach to the green which doesn’t have too many good places to miss around it but the slopes mean you can feed the ball really close to some pin locations especially if the locations are near the front.
If you can play these 3 holes in level or one under you have a good chance of a good back nine and scorecard.
The key scoring holes at Augusta
Now three of the important long holes and how to take advantage.
2nd 575 yards A great early birdie chance but can be defensively played at times if the pin placement is open to a long approach shot to get close its better to lay up to a good angle of attack with a wedge. A good view down to the green is from a flat section of fairway at the top of the hill.
8th 570 yards One where you can go hard with the tee shot as the 2nd plays blind uphill so a good approach is to hit a cut of the fairway bunker. The 2nd has a temptation to go too far up the left to reach the green but mounds around the green make this a challenge to reach it .
15th 530 yards A hole that seems to play into the wind and with a tee shot requiring more precision leaving a precarious 2nd shot into the green whether you lay up or go for it . It’s a underrated tee shot as it looks like you have a massive fairway but trees eat in on the left and more mounds await on the right side which is where you should be going in regards to finding the green in two. Which you should have a 4 iron or less going in to a shallow green that’s hard to hold with a wedge from a downslope. A hole that could hold anything from eagle to double bogey at a vital point in the round.
There you have a guide to some of the key holes at Augusta and how to hopefully get out without too much trouble.
Again, thanks for reading and happy golfing!!!
Its that time of the golfing calendar when the first major of the year arrives and a field of 90
Golfers will head to Augusta National for the 2018 masters.
So here in part 1 is a rundown of who could take the green jacket this year.
Eliminating the weakest links
So as with any golf tournament it’s a case of horses for courses and Augusta is the one course where this is more evident than any other on the planet
So, with a field of 90 golfers you can straight away eliminate around 30 % of the field.
First timers have almost zero chance of competing and you can also eliminate the US amateur champ, British amateur champ, Asian-pacific, Latin America, mid am and also the elder guys in the field can be taken out.
Majority of opinion is that to find a winner you have to look at the top 10 or 20 guys in the world and based on the last ten years anyone who’s in hot form is in with a chance.
Another factor is the scoring conditions of the course, a higher winning score will suit the likes of a Sergio Garcia where the harder it is will suit the great ball strikers, but one thing is certain is you can’t be off on any part of your game when faced with Augusta National as you will be found out pretty fast!
With this in mind here’s a rundown of my possible contenders.
Always will be in contention as there is something about Jordan when The Masters comes around
He’s a thinking man’s golfer.
His putting is his strength and Augusta’s greens demand your every ability which Jordan certainly has in bucket loads but also, he has a mental steel that you need to tackle the course.
2. Mental ability
4. Previous winner
The first thing you think of when Dustin’s name is mentioned is driving distance, but the question is does he have the game with the putter to tackle the greens?
He can hit the ball for miles and has worked very hard to dial in his wedge game and is straight enough with his irons but its great to be able to hit the ball miles, but does he have the mental game?
He has the talent to win, but will he?
1. Driving distance
2. Wedge control
3. Straight irons
Rickie has a good track record at August statistically speaking and should on paper have no problems winning a green jacket.
For Rickie his biggest asset can be his undoing at the same time in his aggression in attacking pins and at Augusta you need that balance of knowing which holes you can attack and which you simply must play conservative and take a par because a big score can lurk if you attack.
1. Good ball striking
After last year’s playoff defeat Justin must be a serious contender for a green jacket over the next 2-3 years.
Justin has the mental game and his swing is second to none but some question his putting is quite at the level it should be.
Many would say if his putting is on for all four days he be in contention but given his form at the Arnold palmer especially the comeback from being +4 after 6 holes to -9 after 54 shows his battling qualities.
1. Mental toughness
2. Quality swing
3. Able to dig deep
4. Great ball striking
On paper Jason has everything to win the masters, hits it long, iron play good, short game.
The only thing maybe holding him back is the pressure he puts on himself as this is the one tournament he really wants on his cv and maybe that his driving is a little inaccurate of the tee .
1. Hits it long
2. Great short game
3. Solid iron play
4. Decent putter
The big question is what Rory will turn up at Augusta? Couple that with the mental scars of that ill fated 2011 round and add the little thing of the grand slam of golf into the mix then Rory has a lot of pressure sat firmly on his shoulders around Augusta!
There’s no doubt he can hit the long ball which is made for Augusta but he’s a little wayward as well where you need to be hitting certain spots on the fairway’s and there is also the small issue that Rory cannot putt very well and has a streaky label .
Rory has the talent and has come close but questions remain over his putting and mental game.
1. Hits it long
2. Natural talent
Again, another on paper who has a fantastic chance to win a green jacket and no doubt with the form of last season he could very well be in the mix come Sunday afternoon in Georgia.
The question is will he have that form? He has the skills in his bag to contend but Augusta is a very different beast in the calendar.
1. Natural talent
2. Good ball striking
3. Putts well
4. Good overall short game
So there’s my list of guys who I think will be there battling it out come the Sunday
What a week of golf at the Valspar championship and come the Sunday we saw Tiger woods and the famous Sunday red . Those fortunate enough to witness the tournament would have seen Tigers short game and putting seeming to be returning back to somewhere near its best and also shows the hard work he's put in to get back to what Tiger calls tournament ready golf .
well any doubts over his back surely have been put to rest when he hit a drive with a club head speed of 129.2 mph ! So this week we head to bay hill club for the Arnold palmer invitational and hopefully see tiger in the hunt once more .Also congrats to Paul casey on the win at the copperhead course and even more exciting to hear that casey will return to wentworth in may for the bmw championships .
Not such a great tournament at valspar for the likes of Jordan Spieth and for Rory Mcilroy ahead of Augusta in a few weeks time .
Rorys admitted his swing feels out of sync ahead of bay hill but he did enjoy some practise time ahead of the masters in april to try and figure out his approach to the tournament .
Another not so out of form is last years runner up Justin rose who with wins in China ,Turkey and Indonesia to his names is looking in good form and maybe he can claim a green jacket ?
Congrats also to Matt williams on his win at the indian hero open .
Also the R&A and USGA have released a report on driving distance and are said to be concerned about the increase of over 3 yards this year to last .
Data was taken on over 300,000 drives from 7 main pro tours and also amateur leaving many to question modern day golf balls .
A few quotes from pga pros on this
Mcilroy had this to say ... its not the ball or equipment but the players who have got more athletic .
This was mirrored by likes of Poulter , Stenson . and i have to agree that the modern day professionals are more aware of athletic ability from doing gym work to strengthen and make their bodies more flexible .
Also the golfsixes returns this year with stars from the LET tour joining the fun and promises to be another great event , head over to the european tour for ticket details .
So in the next blog i will be doing a feature ahead of the masters not only on Augusta National but also some of the possible contenders and a inside view of their chances .
Till then happy golfing !
winter golf tips
so as the cold months roll in and winter takes hold how many of you actually play golf in the winter ?
Surprisingly not many do and normally the weather in the uk this time of year isn't great we do have the odd day where it's a crisp sunny cold day and a excellent chance to sample winter golf and the challenges it presents .
So a few tips to help your game in winter
1. Allow for less roll on wet or soft winter fairways compared to hard summer ones .
2. Be mindful that the golf ball doesn't fly as far in cold winter than in warm sunny days , a recent study showed that the difference being around 2 yards of carry for every 10 degrees drop ( cold air is denser than warm for science geeks ) .
3. Consider changing to a softer ' lower compression ball in winter as it's easier to compress a softer ball .
4. A random one this but to keep golf balls warm ( and last check it was legal ) put them in a pot a hot water for 30 minutes then dry them and put them into a insulated food bag ( I personally haven't tried it myself but may for research purposes ) .
5. A common tip from the tour is keep gloves dry is to put them in a sealed bag and also hang the glove on the rods under the umbrella to stay dry .
6. Simple one to keep a towel dry hang it off the umbrella but keep a spare in the bag too .
7. Rough in winter especially when wet is tough so swing a little harder to get out .
8. As beautiful as a crisp winter day can be to avoid disappointment do except that scoring won't be as good .
9. Greens will be slower when wet and soft .
So these top tips will help you enjoy winter golf more and the different challenge it poses to summer golf , course management and mental toughness will be tested as will ball striking .
Don't let all of this put you off tho from getting out on the course , even just 9 holes can be very beneficial to your winter practise programme .
Enjoy and happy golfing !
A professional golfer sharing blogs on playing the game , how to practise and views from the golf world ,