Playing golf without a safety net at Old American near Dallas
Recently I had the opportunity to play Old American Golf Club at The Tribute near Dallas months before it opens. The Tripp Davis/Justin Leonard design is pretty much ready to go with the exception of a few greens that need a little more maturity and a few other details. (You can read my preview/review on GolfTexas.com.)
One of those details is yardage indicators. I found myself using some creative means to determine what I had into greens since there weren’t yardage books, posts, numbers on the sprinkler heads or any other obvious means to determine yardage except estimating.
One method I used was to gauge how well I hit a particular tee shot. After 25 years of playing golf I’ve got a pretty good idea of my yardages off the tee based on how it felt. Knowing the total distance of the hole, I could just subtract from it how far I thought I hit my drive to get a good estimate of the remaining yardage.
But really, after four or five holes, I found myself just eyeballing the green and the flag and making my best guess. Most of the time, I pulled the right club, and this on a course I had never played before.
I’ve been told that we should do that more often, even when the yardage is available. After all, that’s the way Walter Hagen and some of the older pros did it early in their careers, Of course, for tournaments, I suspect they or their caddies charted each course pretty carefully beforehand. But the bottom line is they often figured their distances by feel.
Playing Old American by feel was somewhat appropriate, considering that it’s a tribute to early American architects. It does wonders for speeding up the game, too.
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I agree that eye-balling distances and taking into account the weather conditions is golf at it's purest.
I do think that the use of handheld GPS devices or built-in on a buggy can quickly give an accurate yardage without having to pace off yardages.
There is now a mix of yardage markers that are to the front or middle of greens and a GPS device gives you both or those and most importantly the distance to the back of the green. I have found by using the yardage to the back of the green the natural amateur tendency to underclub helps me find the middle of the green rather than coming up short!
Keep up the great reviews.