When former US President George W. Bush was playing this hole of the Dye Fore in 2011, he hit a great drive down the middle of the fairway, then went on to hit a fabulous shot right at the flag. When the ball hit the green it bounced right above the pin and proceeded to roll down into a deep pit. What he did next was most impressive… wasting no time with a practice swing, he simply opened up the club face and took a swing of hope. The ball landed barely on the green and rolled towards the hole. When the ball was about a foot away from the pin, George appeared running up the slope and popped up just in time to see his ball hit the center of the stick and drop into the hole for the first recorded birdie on the infamous 5th!
It is exactly this “approach shot” that makes this hole one of the most difficult of the Lagos 9 of the Dye Fore golf course. The following 5 tips will help you turn a 6 or 7 into a par or bogey.
1) Wind direction
The prevailing wind is usually at your back which makes the hole play a little shorter. In fact, I have yet to play this hole when it was into the wind. There are not too many high trees around to get a feel for the strength of the wind, so you can look at the long grass to the left. Also, think back a hole or two and remember how they played.
2) Club selection
This is a very important choice to make because you have 2 options. Firstly, you could play a shot straight down the middle in between the 2 fairway bunkers. The fairway bunkers are about 100-120 yards away from the green, so whatever tees you are playing figure out how far a tee shot you need to play. Hint: you might have to hit a 3 wood or hybrid to be safely in the fairway. Secondly, and this option really only applies to the longer hitters amongst you, but you could go directly for the green. You’re probably thinking I’m crazy, but the landing area on the direct line to the green is downhill and very firm. This will also give you an easier approach shot because the green is VERY narrow.
3) Approach to the green
If you decide to play it safe off the tee and find yourself in the center of the fairway, you have a bit of a difficult shot onto the green, because the green is extremely narrow and firm. The smart play for this approach shot is to aim on landing the ball in the front center of the green and maybe even slightly to the right of center. Alternatively, if you decided to take a direct line to the green and have come up short, you will now have a much easier approach and can aim directly at the pin.
4) Flop shot tips
If you missed the green here are a few quick tips to play a flop shot.
Set up: Take a very wide stance similar to the one you would use hitting out of a greenside bunker. You will also want to have your feet slightly open to the target line so your hands have room to pass through when you make your swing. Open the clubface and focus on holding the club very loose in your hands.
Swing: The recommended distance for the backswing is to bring the club back to an “L” position where your left arm (for right hander’s) is parallel to the ground. As you swing down you want to stay aggressive and not decelerate, then have a slight resistance in the follow through.
5) Green contour
Despite the fact that the green is very narrow and quite long and almost impossible to hit, Pete Dye at least made the green fairly flat. So if you hit this green in two you have a great chance of making a birdie or par.
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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!