Road Hole Shorts

Golf Design, golf, golf, GOLF

Putting for birdies, the joy of golf

By Mary Armstrong
Posted: 12/10/2010 09:10:19 AM MST


Last week, we had some fun, didn’t we?
Why can’t golf always be fun?

Shortly after finishing last week’s article, my copy of Golf Digest arrived. The entire issue focuses on fun! As I read through many hilarious war stories, collection of fun articles, and the usual self-help tips, I came across a commentary by Ron Kaspriske. “Living Large” explores what it took for this 14 handicapper to “really score.”

I’ve often said that most people play from tees that are too long for them. Being a woman, I get by with playing from the blues or even farther back with little more than raised eyebrows, but having a guy move up to the forward tees well, that will be interesting. In Kaspriske’s words, “how short would a course have to be before a 14 handicapper could break par for 18 holes?”

He started by playing from the forward tees at World Woods Golf Club in Brooksville, Fla., despite feeling the world was laughing at him as he teed up and drove off the first. Much to his chagrin, the forward tees weren’t short enough, as he scored “only” an 81. His next round was played from self-proclaimed teeing grounds about 20 yards in front of the forward tees. The result was a 78. Ron was on a mission of self-discovery – in a golfing sense. After these two rounds, he realized that even though he was a relatively long driver, his short game and putting were holding him back. After all, even if you hit it “outta sight,” you still have to hole it to score. He decided that he needed to play from a spot that would allow him to reach each par 4 with his drive and each par 5 in two. This strategy worked. At 4,792 yards he was able to shoot a one under par 70.

The “Scoring Machine” started out by driving the par 4 first and then two-putting for a birdie, followed by driving the second and draining a 30 footer for eagle. He really enjoyed being three under after two holes. What was particularly poignant about his round though was the realization that 12 chances at birdie in 18 holes makes you much more comfortable with having birdie putts. His history was that he could “make a six-footer backhanded for triple, but he wouldn’t give himself a 5-incher for birdie.” He finished his fun round with 29 putts and only one three-putt.

I came across this article because I was reading Editor Jerry Tarde’s “Editor Letter” and he led with a story about one of the greatest golfers of all time, Henry Cotton. Cotton won the British Open three times and was known for his first victory when he shot 65 in the second round. The round was so impressive at the time that Dunlop named one of their balls the “65”. So in 1982, Tarde was at the Open and he happened upon the 75-year-old. When asked, “So how are you playing, Henry?” Cotton smiled and said, “the real fun of golf is putting for birdies. So at my age, I start every hole by teeing up wherever it’s necessary, even if it’s the fairway, so I can reach the green in regulation and putt for birdies.”

Personally, I think he is right on. I played the other day at NMSU in celebration of completing my last final exam. I mostly played alone during that breezy afternoon, but on the back nine I caught up with a couple of men that were playing the blues. They asked me to join them and since there was no way for me to make much progress by going through, I agreed. On the first hole, the 14th, I drove the green and then on 15 reached in two. On the 16th, one of the guys suggested that I should be playing from their tees. I said, “I do occasionally play from the whites or further back, but today I decided to treat myself because I had just finished my final exams.” What I should have said was, “You should join me at the forward tees and really enjoy the game.”

A golf architect in New Hampshire for over 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces last January. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects, which provides planning, designing, permitting and construction monitoring services for golf course projects. You can comment on her writing and view past articles at her blog:


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