John Renslow: Finding your comfort course
Have you ever walked into a house and said to yourself, “This just feels comfortable?” Perhaps it’s a recliner, sofa, or a pair of blue jeans that fits just right.
Athletes experience these nuances to their surroundings. Some locations put us at ease or hit our brain in a way that helps us feel relaxed.
This may happen immediately. It also may develop over the course of time.
We see this when guys in the NBA score more often in certain arenas, race car drivers who take the turns better on certain tracks, and tennis players who perform well on a specific surface.
Golf courses and tour professionals are no different. The way a golf course is laid out, the presence of trees, the absence of trees or the topography can effect a player’s feel and view. One player may be turned off by this, while others may find a site very attractive.
Bruce Litzke comes to mind. It’s old school, but during his time on tour, word is that Litzke was quite choosy about the event he entered. If the course fit his eye, he would play. Litzke won 13 times on tour and eight of those wins came on a course he conquered more than once.
August National Golf Club is very unique. When Bobby Jones was involved in the design, it’s been said that he wanted to make the course enjoyable for all players. Fairways are wider for the shorter hitters, while it narrows for the longer ball strikers.
In order to score, one must be very accurate with shots to the green. The greens are very fast and many have relatively severe slopes. If one hits a shot on top of the hole or green and has a downhill putt, pitch or chip, this will be very challenging, if not impossible to get close.
Overall, for Augusta this means length is not as important. It helps, but not a prerequisite. The main thing is to hit accurate iron shots. If one can hit their irons well and put themselves in a position to hit putts uphill, they’re in good shape.
Jack Nicklaus won the Master’s Tournament at Augusta six times. Tiger has five wins. Phil has three. Not only are they great players, Augusta seems to suit their game.
We see this in nearly every Master’s Tournament. Because the course does not require great length. Players with experience, good iron play, and a faithful putter can play well, even if they’re not in their prime. Each year, the senior set is well represented.
Phil Mickelson at 50 years of age is in the Top 20, and the 63-year-old Bernhard Langer will also be playing the weekend. Both former winners know the course well and likely enjoy the layout.
This is a great show on CBS. It is one of the best televised events each year and you should feel very comfortable watching it in your favorite chair.
John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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