Updated: Jul 25
By Jon Kiru
Director of Golf
Silver Lakes Golf & CC
What a great week it was at the Open Championship in St. Andrews. Congratulations to Champion Golfer of the Year Cameron Smith. Incredible 64 yesterday. I’d just like to remind everyone that the type of golf we watched on the Old Course can have actual application to the style of golf you play here in Southern Ontario and here at Silver Lakes Golf & CC.
It just takes a little curiosity and a little creativity.
Look, I know many of you are going to challenge me that a Southern Ontario golf course with a ton of trees and enough ponds to have “Lakes” in our name, is never allowed to claim any connectivity to the Old Course. I know, I get it. I’ve been to St. Andrews many times and played the Old Course 4 separate times, so I’m as caught up in the history & romance as any of you. But I also know the game of golf very well and I know golfers, so for the sake of some Open Championship Week fun, I’m going to invest a little time here into how our 14th hole can be a wonderful bridge across the Atlantic - if you let it.
Here goes. It may help if you read this with your internal British accent.
First, the Up vs Down discussion will be the true case study here. I’ll never compare the courses themselves, but I’ll lobby that these 2 styles of play can both be played in certain places if you look close enough and grant yourself a leap of faith.
The executive summary of the Up v Down debate is that North American Golf, and as a by-product all PGA Tour Golf, is played point-to-point through the air. Whereas British golf is played along the ground as much as possible.
The better way to look at this is from the perspective of the respective fans of each side of this comparison. North Americans will suggest that balls bouncing along bumps and mounds and pockets of gorse are as much dependent on luck as skill – so the pure ball strikers on this side of the Ocean are taking dead aim and all success is resulting from skilled ball striking. Our British counterparts will suggest that we play robotic one-dimensional golf over here without a drop of ingenuity or creativity. Factory-made golf.
So there it is – the Brits are a bunch of creative Seve-esque geniuses, and we’re a row of emotionless Iron Byrons.
I’ve played them all and I know this for sure – they’re both right.
And how will I back up this comment you ask? Well, on the 14th hole here at Silver Lakes G&CC.
14 is an excellent example of a hole that can be played either way. Up or down – you decide. If you want to put a splash of that British style into how you enjoy golf over here – consider this a masterclass in what you can do to create that experience for yourself.
First, and this won’t help my cart sales too much so make sure you buy a hot dog and a beer, you should walk the hole. You must digest the hole with your feet first to know the nuances of what the bounces might do and where the ball may go once gravity has the ball back on the ground and bouncing forward.
2nd – you need to pull clubs from different parts of your golf bag than you usually do when you play the 14th here at Silver Lakes. If we’re gonna have some fun playing this hole like a true Scot, you’ll have to play it that way.
Let’s explore precisely what “down” is. It’s lower than the air game over here but it’s not all together down on the ground – it’s definitely lower though, and the ball will get on the ground faster meaning it will navigate the course grounds more than the air above it.
You'll need to fashion a knock-down. Flight the ball as they say. There are a couple adjustments to set-up and club path but I don't want to turn this into an instruction session - I'll post a video on this in the coming weeks as a follow up.
There is a definitive way to identify a swing that is trying to keep the ball lower – you know it when you see it - you’ve seen it in the Open Championships you’ve watched in years past. Words won’t do these many variations justice so just watch and enjoy. This is another way to know you are not watching a row of Iron Byrons – these finishing moves are very unique and rarely look like each other.
So back to the 14th here at Silver Lakes. Whether we decided to play it for a fun experience, or some severe wind has affected our planning – lets play 14 like it is a hole in Scotland.
Tee shot? No Driver here. A flighted 3 wood will do just fine to get you somewhere with 220-250 remaining. 2nd shot? Keep a low 5 iron under the treeline and get it running. This should leave you with about 40-50 yards left on this great par 5. Sand wedge? Nope – keep looking through your bag. There’s a 6 iron in there somewhere so find it and take a good look at the ground in front of you because like any good bowling alley – you’re about to get your ball rolling toward the target. This is not quite a Texas wedge but it's certainly not a flop shot! The good old pitch & run which is perfect for this green which is narrow but deep.
My point? Just have fun. Watching Cam Smith navigate where the golf ball travelled along the ground on 17 & 18 yesterday was amazing! Experiment with how you play because there are many ways to do it. Challenge yourself to experience the game in new ways. That 64 yesterday showed us how important it is to have control of the ball once it’s on the ground.
I hope to see you soon here at Silver Lakes Golf & Country Club.
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