The second hole at my home course on Cape Cod is a par 4 with the tee box at the top of one hill and the green at the top of a hill that’s around a bit of a corner. It’s like playing golf on a roller coaster and the results are always unexpected. I came across this very helpful article on playing downhill shots from Online Academy of Golf. If you have one of those “roller coaster” holes where you play golf, this article might be just want you need.
Big Downhill Shots
Golf courses are designed to offer a challenge and different courses do this in different ways. One aspect of playing golf which may not happen regularly but presents a problem when it does is big downhill shots.
You will find some par-3 and par-4 holes have an elevated tee box and the fairway or green could be some 200 or 300 feet below. You cannot approach this shot in the same way you would if the ground was level and today, we have some tips to help you play big downhill shots.
There is a general rule used by many golfers when faced with a downhill tee shot and that’s for every 3 feet of elevation change, there is a one yard change to the distance of the hole. You will need to consider other factors when working this out, such as the wind for example but if you are playing a big downhill shot, the hole will become shorter.
For example, a 450 yard par-4 hole could become 350 yards due to the high elevation of the tee box and you must take that into account.
When playing a big downhill shot on a par-4, you will usually be aiming to get the ball on the fairway. Look for any hazards and pick a spot you would like to land the ball as you would when playing a standard tee shot.
However, instead of pulling out the driver as you normally would, consider the actual distance to the landing spot with the elevation change. You will be hitting the ball a lot further than usual because of the big downhill in-front of you and that means you can play using a shorter club, such as a hybrid for example.
Think about how far you usually hit a hybrid or fairway wood and now add the extra distance due to the elevation. Your hybrid is much easier to hit accurately than the driver yet will still land the ball in the desired area of the fairway.
You cannot afford the drop in elevation to trick you. You may look out and think you are never going to reach the target by using a shorter club and because of this you swing much harder than usual as a way to compensate. You do not need to do that, just make a smooth, simple swing and having considered the size of the drop, you will play a great shot.
If you are playing a par-4 hole with a huge drop from the tee, you may be tempted to use the driver and go for the green in one. This is something only you can decide and you must weight up the risks of doing so before committing to the shot.
Do you have a big downhill hole on your home course? How do you play it? Add your comment…