By Kiel Christianson
Watching the Aberdeen Asset Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in Inverness, Scotland, and The Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, we started thinking about how links golf is so much different from our U.S. brand of parkland golf.
And now this week the PGA Championship is at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, which in many ways is also links-like visually, although it plays more like a typical U.S. course (unless the wind is howling).
What should you do to prepare your game for a trip to the Auld Sod of Ireland, or the Home of Golf, Scotland, or a seaside course here in the U.S.?
One thing that comes to mind is to not expect to have a career round. Unless you've been there often, it'll take some getting used to.
Beyond that, we turned to SwingFix instructor Doug Spencer of the Brian Mogg Performance Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Here's what he suggests:
"Being prepared for the weather and windy conditions is a must. A few areas that I would practice would be as follows."
1. Make sure to have fresh grips.
2. Practice wearing your rain gloves to get used to wearing two gloves.
3. Invest in a quality rain suit and shoes, and hit some balls with the rainsuit on to make sure you can swing effectively before the round.
4. The greens will be a bit slower so practice on slower greens to get used to hitting your putts harder.
5. Practice working on hitting a lot of longer putts through the fringe and from out in the fairway. This is a great way to work on getting used to keeping the ball down on the ground.
6. The bunkers will also be deeper with high faces, so getting used to hitting high bunker shots is a must.
7. The sand also seems to be firmer on links courses, so get used to the firmer base and the wedge bouncing more (check the bounce on your wedges to make sure you don't have too much).
8. Learning to hit lower flighted shots is also a must to control your trajectory. Go out and throw some balls in the trees and practice hitting lower flighted shots under the branches. Hitting balls on the range doesn't quite tell you how you're controlling your trajectory.