Gaining Strokes To The Field in a Golf Tournament

Playing in a golf tournament offers many opportunities to gain strokes on the field. These scoring opportunities can happen at any time on the golf course, but there are certain holes where shooting a good (or poor) score makes more of a difference to the leaderboard. Over the years, I benefited from great shots and gained up to 2 strokes on the field on one hole; it was all a matter of timing.

On every golf course, there are holes that afford every golfer the opportunity to gain strokes; these are usually difficult holes where most players struggle to make a par. On these holes, the drive is generally the critical factor to a low golf score. I realize we try to hit the perfect shot every time, but every now and again, our intent pokes through and we actually hit a perfect shot.

At my home course of Osprey Links, there are several holes that offer every player the chance to move up the leaderboard. Of these, I believe that number 17 is the most difficult (especially from the tips) and a par or birdie gains strokes on 3/4 of the field.

Blue Tees on the17th Hole from Osprey Links Golf Course.

From the blues, this hole plays 200 yards over the water. There is usually a strong breeze from left to right. It is OB over the back and bunkers on the left and right of the green. As you can see the water and false front add to the difficulty of this hole. The green is narrowish from front to back with a mound at the crest of the two tiered green.

During normal conditions, this a natural 4-iron to the front section of the green and a 3 hybrid to the back. The blue tees are elevated about 50 feet above the surface of the green no matter what you think, this is a very difficult shot. The number of variables on each tee shot are uncountable. The 17th hole from the blue tees is the most difficult shot at Osprey Links.

Having described this shot, I can say that it is also one of my favorites. I enjoy the challenge of trying to gain strokes on the field and although I do not birdie this hole often, a par is relatively routine. I do not get fancy; I play to the center of the front or back of the green depending on pin location. Once on the green, I let my putter go to work.

During one tournament a few years back, the scores on this hole ranged from 2 (birdie) to an 11 (an other). The 11 resulted in 3 balls in the water (after going to the drop area), 2 bunker shots, and a 4 putt. The person could not hit a good shot and became flustered after each attempt. This hole is very intimidating and can lose you the golf tournament if not careful.

Conversely, Osprey Links has holes that if you do not shoot par or birdie, you lose strokes to the field; I would suggest all the par 5s and several of the par 4s. These, in my opinion, are considered easy holes and shooting greater than a par is bad for your score. One point of caution I learned over the years, I need to concentrate as much on the easy holes and the difficult ones; if I don’t bad things can happen.

Paying attention on the golf course is very important. There are opportunities to gain strokes on the field during every tournament. The trick is to be patient and take advantage of the rare chances as they arise. Have you ever gained strokes on the field in a golf tournament?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

2 thoughts on “Gaining Strokes To The Field in a Golf Tournament

  1. Your number 11 sounds like a fun hole to me. First, we don’t get a lot of elevated tee boxes around here in flatland. So they feel like a treat. And I’ve always liked hitting my four iron off the tee anyway. There are a few courses that have some long and dangerous par 3s over water around here. One of them gave me my only hole in one and another you see on tv every year when they play at Copperhead. (ouch, that reminds me, the rates there are up to $350 now, so I probably won’t be playing there ever again).

    While I wasn’t playing in a tournament today nor on a course as tough as Copperhead, I did give myself one of those kinds of opportunities you spoke about. But I blew it this time. I had hit a perfect drive up the left hand side on a par 5. There’s water there that intrudes a bit into the fairway on that side, but I can get over it and I hit a fade so the water wasn’t really a worry. This ball went straight though. Right up my aim point. I used the cart path where it goes around that intrusion for my aim point. And I landed the ball right at the end of the path about 15 yards past the water and got a great bounce as a bonus. So instead of having to lay up or maybe hit a 3 wood in, I was close enough I could choose between a 90% pitching wedge and a 3/4 swing with a 9. But I had to wait what seemed forever before I could hit. The twosome in front struggled around and on the green and of course, I was in range early thanks to that bounce which made the wait longer than I would have had. And along with the wait, which is something I struggle with still, I had the random thought of the possibility of a double eagle cross my mind as I stood behind the ball. Because of that thought I chose the 3/4 nine iron because that kind of shot is what has given me more hole outs than any other. But I blew it. I bladed it a bit and one hopped it off the back and left myself a tough lob shot off a tight lie. What should have been an decent chance at eagle or an easy birdie at least, turned into a par that certainly felt like I had left one or two to the non-existent field.


    • Kevin

      I can relate to your story. I have experience similar results from having to wait a long time to make a shot. Some days I can handle the wait and others I become frustrated. It is difficult to remain mentally strong if we have to wait all the time; I try to thing of other things or keep my mind occupied by rooting through my bag, but that is a stop gap measure at best. I hope you have the opportunity to go for that double eagle again; I am sure the results will be different.



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