Why to Practice Specific Shots
Everyone’s watched this video of Tiger hitting the now named duck slice from a fairway bunker at the end of the 3rd round of the WGC Mexico.
Tiger went ahead and made some comments about his decision making in a video, where he said knew that his initial 8 iron was too much club which made him switch to a 9 iron, but didn’t say if he knew that specifically because he’d hit exact shots like that before.
In the realm of specific shot practice, here’s a story about a time when that absolutely helped me.
At Pinehurst for the US Four Ball, we were on one of the practice greens (which we were told used to be the 18th at the #4 that they changed into a practice green during the redesign because the green was too difficult so players finishing #4 had trouble keeping it on the green which goes to show that public play courses can be too difficult). They had the giant bunkers and one of the shots we decided to practice were long bunker shots where the ball was on a big upslope near the front of the bunker.
The shot ended up being one where you open the club face to the point where you’re able to swing as hard as you can, have the ball go way into the air and comes down next to the hole with not much spin or roll. The thing to practice was knowing how open to have the club face and get a sense of the density of the sand. We hit probably 10-15 of those shots from different places, all on the upslopes to back pins, and felt pretty good about them.
Fast forward to couple days later where on the 16th hole at #2, after a bad drive where I had to hit my second shot to advance it to the green, I ended up on an upslope of a giant bunker short right of the green when the pin was back left. When my friend and I were walking up I could see right away it was the kind of shot I’d been practicing, and straight up told him “watch this” before I hit the shot, which ended up being a giant arched shot that landed a foot from the hole and stayed a foot from the hole. Perfect example of the benefit of practicing a specific shot.
Also, Tiger is a Jedi Master.
Pinehurst #2 Review — Don’t miss a green on the wrong side
Pinehurst #2. What to say, what to say. It’s been so tough to figure out what I wanted to say about #2 that I haven’t written this review until over 3 months after the Four Ball. And it’s even so tough now that I’ve been sitting here a while without knowing how to start.
After writing the post, I have a summary to share. Pinehurst #2 is somewhat of a bland course in terms of hole distinction and differences in important shots. But it is impressive in difficulty in that basically every bad shot, especially approaches, is penalized. This makes it an ideal home course if you’re trying to compete since every shot requires perfection, and every other course you’ll play will seem easier.
I guess the first thing to say is that my dad and I played #2 back in the day and were featured in the Pinehurst newspaper the next day. Don’t believe me? My mom found it can snagged picture of it before the Four Ball. This was from almost 10 years ago now, and holy crap were clothes baggy back then. Oof.
Holy baggy rain pants. It was pouring, pouring rain so much then that barely anyone went out and played. We were unsure if we’d do that ourselves, but not like you can reject playing #2 when down there. I actually remember when this picture took place. We walking up to the second green and a car stopped on the road that cuts between the 2nd green and 3rd tee and a dude with a camera stepped out. We walked up to the green, said he’s from the local newspaper and wanted a picture of us on the green to prove that people were playing the course despite the crazy daylong downpour. Fun times.
Besides the second green, I remember a few other parts of the course — 16 because of the pond, 17 because of the semi valley from the tee to the green that was just all that bermuda style rough, and 18 approach shot because I stuffed this hybrid to a foot or so and had a tap in birdie.
When playing earlier this spring, the course was a 1000% percent different. Somewhat because I bogeyed 18 instead of birdieing it, but also because of the unbelievably perfect weather, spring warmness, no clouds, no sogginess, and different type of missed fairway penalty.
With the intro over, it’s time for me to go through all the thoughts I have on the course.
The Barclays — … The Barclays What?
The Barclays sets itself apart from most other tournaments by deciding to not use an identifier or other words in the tournament title besides the name of the sponsor. So I guess it’s neither an Open, nor a Championship, so probably just a Tournament. Actually, I’ll go with invitational since you have to qualify. So this week, it’s The Barclays Invitational. I asked Barclays officials about what kind of event this really is and they declined to comment.
About the Sponsor
I’ve sat here for a while now trying to think of what to say about Barclays. I figured I needed to mention that you have to say “Barclays” with a English accent, cause 1) it sounds better, and 2) that’s a good enough reason on its own. But that’s about the only interesting thing about it. In reality, all you really need to know about Barclays is that it’s a British bank that does bank like things all around the world.
About the Tournament
Beginning in 1967 (and first won by Jack Nicklaus), The Barclays had a rich history of being played on the same course until 2008. The tournament was pretty much synonymous with Westchester Country Club, even donning the name “Westchester Classic” for the first 9 years of existence.
But money changes things, and in 2007 when the FedEx Cup began, the tournament was moved from June to August, and also started moving around host courses (and hasn’t returned to Westchester either). Currently, the tournament seems to be on a 5 course hosting rotation, with Plainfield being a part of it.