Playing Tip from Cape Fear National
Assistant golf professional Blake Valand welcomes Shan Coughlin to Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest in Leland, NC on this edition of Tee It UP Grand Strand, to share a Playing Tip from Cape Fear National about how to take a new approach for chipping when playing in dormant Bermuda.
“One thing I’m excited to talk to you about,” Coughlin started, “and we’re going to talk about the course a little bit and get to that, but when the temperatures go down a little bit, my scores always seem to go up. One of the reasons is I don’t like to play in a jacket, but you know that’s [neither] here nor there. You have to stay a little bit warm. But you’re going to give us a tip today about hitting out of dormant Bermuda,” she said to Valand. To clarify, Coughlin confirmed that at Cape Fear National, the Bermuda grass grows in the roughs and fairways, but bent grass on the greens.
Valand said when golfers find themselves in the dormant Bermuda around the greens, they need to play that shot a little bit differently than when it is plush during the warmer months. Valand began by explaining that the course is a bit wetter this time of year, and it’s harder to get spin on the ball, so golfers want to try to hit shots the easiest way possible, and with the club with which they are most comfortable.
The first shot Valand explains is a basic chip shot with a sand wedge. Coughlin describes the shot. Valand is in the dormant Bermudagrass, and said golfers should start by centering the ball in the middle of their stance. He said if golfers remember nothing else, it is important to remember to keep weight on the front foot meaning right-handed golfers should keep weight on their left foot; left-handed golfers keep weight on their right foot. From there, Valand said to try to maintain the same pace throughout the shot and accelerate through impact.
Coming up a little bit short on the shot, he said that this shows the sand wedge may not be the best club for that shot in the dormant Bermuda, and moved on to a pitching wedge. Hitting the same shot with the same technique, the pitching wedge has a little less loft, but offers more bounce on the bottom of the club. After hitting, Coughlin said that there were big differences in the results!
The next club is a hybrid. Coughlin couldn’t believe he would use a hybrid, but the results were the best of the three shots. Valand said the great thing about the hybrid is, he is not trying to hit it really hard or high in the air, but just trying to get it on the ground and let it roll. The sole that is on the hybrid is really designed to cut through the grass and not dig in at all. Valand told Coughlin the idea is to hit the ball more like a putt, but keep the same technique and form as the previous shots and go with the chipping method. After hitting the ball, Coughlin told Valand she would pay for that result every time.
The biggest challenge for people shooting out of the dormant Bermudagrass, according to Valand, is that golfers tend to choose the wrong club. “Yes, absolutely. They try to hit the same shot that they see guys on TV hit. We’re not all that good. So, we need to make sure that we’re making it as simple as possible,” he said.
Valand has been at Cape Fear National for more than a year, and has been giving lessons for seven years. He said his style is easy and smooth and he wants his students to have fun. For information about scheduling lessons or playing at Cape Fear National, log onto www.capefearnational.com, or call the pro shop at (910) 383-3283.