What I love most about the British Open is how we get to witness the sheer creativity of these professional golfers that makes the Open unlike any other championship.
Unfortunately, *mostly* what we see in the US is this type of “Bomb and wedge” type golf. Just rip the crap out of the ball and have your caddie hand you a wedge while you look for your ball some 300 yards up the fairway. Pretty ho-hum stuff after awhile. Again, most (not all) courses here in the US sort of endorse that style of play.
John wrote, recently a cool article titled, Scottish Courses Are More Fun here at GDB. And he really summed up the differences between our American golf courses and those gnarly, stubbled links courses most often seen in Ireland, Scotland and the UK.
What is really fun to watch is how the top players use their creativity in playing these links style courses like we are seeing now at the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club.
First, there are over 200 bunkers on this course. Some of these bunkers come into play off the tee and others not so much. So instead of the “bomb and wedge” type golf you really have to think about your tee shot. What club you’re using, how far to hit the ball, how to shape it and how to play shots in the often nasty UK weather.
So far we haven’t seen much bad weather at the Open Championship but weather can change in an instant in the UK and when that happens, look out! All of a sudden you have to add an additional variable to the game – the weather!
I really believe that playing links style courses makes you a better player as it forces you to use your creativity. By accessing your creativity, you start to see additional opportunities, different ways of playing shots that you might not have seen before. Why not try to play some of these courses? check out these golf tee time online to help you find some of these great courses.
Of course, you have to practice using your creativity. It won’t just magically come to you on a big tournament day. Accessing “the muse” is a fickle business especially if your creative thinking has lied dormant for some time.
In your practice sessions try to see new possibilities. Use different clubs. Try to flight the ball differently. See what happens. Open yourself to new creative possibilities in your golf game. Ask yourself, “Do I have to fly the ball in the air all the time? Why not use the ground?”
Greg Norman used to say, “The golf ball’s round so it’s meant to roll, right?!” Or “Does golf always have to be played forward? Can you play golf backwards, too?” (look at the pick above, Tiger decided playing backwards was a better shot than trying to move the ball forward out of that steep-faced, sod bunker)
Seve Ballesteros used to go around the course and play with just 1 club – his 3 iron – to play every shot!(even out of bunkers!) No wonder he was thought of as one the the games greatest creative players (5 major championships!)
Pay particular attention to the short game in golf. That’s one of the facets of golf that you can really be creative in! Watch how the games savviest players (ie, Phil Mickelson) think differently about those short shots. Watch closely how they are creatively imagining different shots. Now try practicing some of those shots. Have some fun. Play around. Make a fun little game out of truing to hit the same shot with 10 different clubs.
Finally, use your imagination. Get used to using and accessing this great facility we ALL have. Imagine “seeing” different kind of shots, different flights, different types of spin, etc. If you can imagine it in your mind then your body can produce it.
Jack Nicklaus is fond of saying:
“I never hit a shot, even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a color movie.”