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The 14th hole of the Dye Fore is beautiful. Behind the tee boxes you can see the new bridge of the “Autopista del Coral” highway crossing over the Chavón River, whilst in front, the view of the river as it meanders towards the sea is gorgeous. There is abundant wildlife to admire here too – this hole is the home of a Rhinoceros Iguana, most often spotted sunbathing at midday and in the mornings you can even see vultures and other birds of prey circling above the river banks.
But as stunning as the 14th hole is, with its seemingly wide fairway, sparse bunkers and large green, this short, yet enticing par 4 can put a damper on your day. Here are some tips to help you make a smooth par and avoid the dreaded “X”.
1.) Don’t be intimidated
This is a very easy thing to say, but when you look out to the fairway the first thing that catches your attention is the breathtaking cliff of the Chavón River. Also to your right, you’ll spot some nasty 3 foot-high weeds. These 2 major factors really make the fairway seem smaller, so switch your focus away from the river and the weeds and towards the center fairway bunker in the right center of the fairway.
2.) Judge the wind like a pro
A great tip for judging wind is thinking back to the previous hole or holes. Here in the Caribbean the wind typically blows one way for most of the day, unless there is a storm on the way. So think back a hole or two to remember where the wind was coming from. On this hole you may not feel the wind on the tee box, but chances are there will be more wind 100 feet in the air – where your ball will be flying. A great old quote to remember…”Swing easy when it’s Breezy”.
3.) Select the right club off the tee
Given this is a short hole, a driver is NOT NECESSARY! Using a driver will only bring trouble into play – the river, the fairway bunkers and the slope off the right side of the fairway that goes straight into high grass. So let’s say we are playing the middle tees, the hole is roughly 345 yards long and the first fairway bunker is 130 yards from the hole. Assuming we have calm conditions, a smooth 200 yard shot will leave you less than 150 yards in- just short of the bunker. Remember, #1 priority is to hit the fairway!
4.) Stay right on the approach shot
Picking a target on the right portion of the green is a MUST DO because anything left of the green will result in a double bogey or more, as your ball will certainly roll off the green and into trouble. By picking a target on the right side of the green, it will be much easier to make par. But if your ball happens to roll off…here is a quick tip to help you with that shot.
Quick tip for chipping to an elevated green:
Use the bounce of the club to your advantage. When chipping onto an elevated green, often I see people dig in with the leading edge – causing them to hit behind the ball and have it roll right back to them or blade the ball way over the green…2 nightmare situations. Use the bounce of the club by having very little shaft lean forward, you should almost feel like the club shaft is vertical. And it doesn’t hurt to open up the club face, again this creates more bounce that will help the ball get up in the air and onto the putting surface.
This is a fairly straightforward putting surface, however, there are a lot of subtleties on this green that one must be aware of. The front left part slopes away from the river so that is a good place to land a chip or pitch a shot to a center pin. There is a low portion in the center of the green that is very easy to get trapped in when going for a back pin location. The grain for the most part is this hole runs downhill. So obviously your downhill putts will be faster than normal and your uphill putts will be substantially slower.
Director, JimMcLean Golf Academy
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The “Golf Tips” by Eric Lillibridge series of articles is a re-print of “Conquering Casa’s Most Challenging Holes” published in every edition of TODO Casa de Campo magazine-guide, the ultimate resource for everything TO DO in the Casa de Campo resort – from sports, to dining, to just admiring the views and the nature!