2005: Bandon Dunes pro offers tips on playing in gruff conditions

Grant Rogers, director of instruction at Bandon Dunes Resort, offers these tips for playing links golf and dealing with “wild weather” conditions:

4Get prepared mentally. The wind is not the enemy. Relax and try to use the wind to your advantage. If somebody says you’re going to war with the wind, how do you do that? This is not war. This is fun. Use your imagination.

4If conditions are dry, you should hit more low, rolling shots. You need to break away from thinking you’ve got to hit a certain club from a certain distance. That’s got to go. You should feel like you can use any club from any distance.

4Carry two drivers, one that goes longer and one that goes shorter. I am constantly using my shorter driver on the par-3 holes at Bandon. Just figure out the rhythm you need and make a rhythmic swing. You don’t have it hit as hard as you can. You don’t have to smash the ball on every swing.

4Learn about apparel. It’s kind of like putting

the right items in your backpack when you go camping. Use little tricks, like leaving the golf bag facing away from direction of the rain.

It’s kind of an art form, really, to see how dry you can be after a rainstorm. I never use an umbrella, and I stay dry.

4Aim at bunkers. I’m kind of a nut on bunkers, so I aim at bunkers all the time. It’s fun to be in them. When I heard they were remodeling the Road Hole bunker at St. Andrews, it was a bad day for me. That’s one of the great bunkers of all time.

Any bunker that has a name is probably a great bunker. (There is one at Bandon, the Shoe Bunker in the middle of the second fairway at Pacific Dunes.)

4You should practice many different ways to use a putter from off the green. With firm turf, you should try to push the limit on how far you can hit a putter. One hundred yards? One hundred fifty yards? Sure, go ahead. If you’ve always wanted to hit a putter from a certain location, well, what are you waiting for?

My first tip is use the putter more often. My second tip, in case they forgot the first tip, is to use the putter more often.

4I remind my students that golf is an adventure. That’s the whole idea. You don’t know what’s going to happen.

4Create different shots by using different ball positions and different stances. The club changes, depending on where you put the ball and where you put your feet.

4Be careful about playing the ball too far back. In the wind, the natural reaction of people is to start playing the ball farther back in their stance. The problem is that it results in a steeper swing, more spin, and a higher trajectory. The answer is to take more club and swing easier.

4A lot of players think moving from a 9-iron to an 8-iron is overclubbing, but that’s not the end of the story. Doug Sanders used to say he could hit four or five different clubs on many of his iron shots. And he could.

4Don’t lock into the concept that it’s a one-club wind or two-club wind. The wind is constantly changing.

4You need to take more responsibility for your shots. That’s a big part of the game that is often overlooked. If you hit it in the bunker, you hit it in the bunker.

4Watching golfers react to their shots is pretty interesting to me – how they deal with adversity or success. I pay attention to when they hit their first really bad shot. What is their body language like? I admire people who just go ahead and play

with resolve.

4Ultimately you have to get the ball in the hole when you play. It doesn’t have to be

that classic.

It’s going to be a challenge no matter what. I like the idea of extreme sports anyway. You can apply these same thoughts to golf. You can play on really windy days and really rainy days. It’s like extreme golf.

Get interested in this, and you will do it more often. Not to mention the fact that you will

play better.

4Having fun on the golf course is not necessarily related to score. I say to my new students: “Here’s the scorecard, now tear it up. OK, that’s it for the first lesson.”

Later I tell them to take the scorecard, cross out the par, and write down their own numbers. When you play that scorecard, it’s like playing Tiger Woods or somebody.

4There is a reason that every student decides to take a lesson.

As an instructor, it is my responsibility to figure it out. It’s not good enough to hand a golfer a 5-iron and tell him to hit balls. My theory is that it absolutely has to work during the lesson, or I have failed.

4I never challenge what my students want to do (with their golf games), but I always take the time to explain everything that is involved in achieving your goals.

4Always remember the motto at Royal Troon: “As much by skill as by strength.”

– Compiled by James Achenbach

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