Besides wind, the firmness of a course’s greens might be the most important variable in a given round of golf. Even the pros struggle to handle rock-hard greens.
Many amateurs frown when faced with extra-firm surfaces. They get discouraged when an approach shot doesn’t hold, or a chip takes a hard bounce and blows past the flag. Unless they make the necessary adjustments – both physical and mental – they’re in for a long day.
It’s especially frustrating to hit a solid wedge shot, only to watch it skid and release over the green. You need two ingredients to combat these conditions – more height and more spin. Here’s how to get them:
- Take less club and swing harder: Let’s say you’ve got a yardage that puts you between an easy pitching wedge and a full sand wedge. The easy pitching wedge will fly lower, spin less and roll more after landing. Take a full swing with the sand wedge and you’ll hit the ball higher with extra spin, stopping it quickly.
- Move the ball back in your stance: If you address wedge shots with the ball forward of center (closer to your left foot), move it back to the middle of your stance. This will create a steeper angle of approach and extra spin. Be careful not to move the ball too far right as you’ll de-loft the club and hit the shot too low.
- Switch to a higher-spin ball: Depending on the ball you normally play, you might get more spin from a different model. Your best bet for firm greens is a so-called “tour” ball – those played by pros and better amateurs. (Examples include the Titleist ProV1, Bridgestone Tour B330 and Callaway HEX Black.) They’re a little more expensive, but they’ll cost you little if any distance off the tee while saving you strokes inside 100 yards.
Above all, playing hard greens calls for patience and accepting whatever they dish out. Control the factors that are in your hands – spin and trajectory – and take whatever comes your way.