The first hole at the Loyalist Golf and Country Club poses many challenges. The tee shot vexes most golfers with a 210 yard uphill shot to the crest of a hill. Due to the elevation, it plays more like 230 yards. If struck properly, the average player’s ball will be at the 150 yard marker or closer with a good view of the green (see above). The next shot is very important and this is where your course management skills are really tested!
My assessment of the hole matched the course description, with the exception of the wind direction. It was playing right to left and slightly in my face. Loyalist Golf Club’s view on their first hole is as follows:
Your Loyalist experience starts with a straightaway par that normally plays downwind. Your tee shot must avoid two large bunkers to the left side of the fairway. Careful club selection is necessary as you play your approach into an elevated, two-level green. A good chance at birdie to start.
When approaching a shot such as this, it is important to see all potential aspects of the hole that will affect your shot. Or in other words, focus on course management. The following is what I saw and used to determine my club selection:
- The green is slightly above my ball location because I cannot see the bottom of the flag stick. Impact: playing longer than 150 yards.
- The green slopes right to left. Impact: The ball will likely move to the left after contacting the green.
- Wind is blowing right to left and slightly in our face. Impact: The ball will be pushed right to left. Yardage will play longer.
- Deep Grass on the right with large mounds. Impact: Must fly the ball to the green. Avoid going right.
- Bunkers on the left. Impact: Stay to the right.
- Mound at back helps protect from going long. Impact: Can be more aggressive with my approach shot.
- Flag is up front (red flag). Impact: Sucker pin placement. Most shots will end up short if shot directly at the pin.
- Sharp drop-off in the front of the green. Impact: A short shot will result in the ball being 10 feet below the green for the next shot.
- Points you cannot see, but must be considered: lie of ball on the fairway (in a hole, divot, or on the flat surface), is ball above or below my feet, is the ground soft or hard and the exact yardage using my GARMIN Approach6.
These are the things that should be considered when making an approach shot from 150 yards on the first hole at Loyalist Golf Course.
After considering all the variables (took about 15 seconds) I decided to hit my 7-1ron. It is my 150 yard club, which was the yardage to the back of the green. I estimated that the ball would travel about 145 yards. I aimed just left of the pin despite the wind and slope of the green. I made good contact; the ball landed on the front part of the green and to the left of the pin. The ball only traveled 140 yards, 5 yards less than I estimated. I was left with a 30 foot putt. After a two putt, I walked away with a par.
If I was to replay the shot, I would select a 6 iron to reduce the margin of error on a possible miss hit. Also, the mounds in the back would provide the protection required if I hit the ball a bit long.
So, the variables to consider can be numerous and the time to do so short. I have learned through the years to start the analysis of the variables before I reach my ball. This helps speed up play and keeps me focused between shots.
What would you do different if you were to play this shot? All suggestions are greatly appreciated.
I am a grateful golfer. See you on the links!