While enjoying this island golfing paradise, enjoy playing better golf, too, with the help of Scott Ashworth, PGA, Director of Golf, Four Seasons Resorts Lanai. One of the most distinguished golf professionals in Hawaii, Scott has more than 25 years of teaching experience and is the incoming District 11 Director for the PGA of America representing the Aloha, Northern California, and Southern California Sections, through 2018.
Tight lies near the green
Green approaches are mowed at a low height. For this shot, it’s best to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible, and use a utility wood.
On No. 6, a par 5 with a big green, the approach funnels back, 5 to 10 feet off the front of the green. Golfers will make a better chip with the utility club than a pitching wedge to get the ball rolling smoothly on the tight lies to the hole.
- Start by gripping down the club, bottom hand close to the edge of the shaft.
- Grip the club and set up like you would with a putter.
- The stroke is similar to a putt – a smooth, one piece motion
- Shoulders, arms and hands all are working together.
- It’s important not to get “flippy” with your hands.
Relax & Enjoy the Scenery
Manele Golf Course is blessed with absolutely stunning golf holes that have amazing ocean views. Occasionally this inherent beauty can make golfers a little nervous.
The par-3 12th hole is a prime example: It is one of the most beautiful holes in the world and plays to an inviting 153 yards from the middle tees, often with the trade winds helping from tee to green.
The tee shot is a full carry across a cove, with waves crashing 150 feet below. Golfers tense up when they stand over this shot. Tension manifests itself in the grip and in the shoulders. I try to remind guests to remain calm and confident so they can enjoy their round on our scenic course. How?
- Start by taking a deep breath. Slowly. Feel the tension release from your shoulders. Tense shoulders can restrict your body’s ability to turn properly during the golf swing.
- Grip the club just tightly enough so it doesn’t fly out of your hands. Too much tension in the grip can lead to a short, restricted, and rushed golf swing.
- Think of your arms as “ropes” attached to your shoulders .Let your arms swing freely around the shoulder and body turn. Having correct grip pressure helps accomplish this feel.
Tee it High, Let it Fly
There are two things golfers should always do when they set up to hit a driver on Manele’s 17th hole in order to maximize distance off the tee:
- Most drivers have a deep face that requires the ball be teed higher than golfers realize. Tee the ball up so that half the ball shows above the top edge of clubface. This will help catch the ball just above the center of the clubface, and reduce spin. Catching it too low on the driver face causes the ball to spin too much and lose distance.
- Make sure the ball position with driver is played just inside the front foot. This will allow the driver to make impact just as it begins its upswing, which allows for the best launch angle. Getting the correct launch angle and spin rate with driver will allow you to maximize your distance off the tee.
Two lines in our world-famous sand
As home to Hulopo’e Beach –– one of the most spectacular beaches in the world –– we have lots of places to play in the sand here on Lanai, including the expansive greenside bunkers on Manele Golf Course.
Good bunker shots seem effortless, but only after lot of practice. The following practice routine will help you become better at “playing in the sand” around the green:
- To get out of a greenside bunker, you do not want to make contact with the ball first. So, in a practice bunker, draw two parallel lines, two inches apart. One line represents the ball position, while the other line is where the club should descend into the sand.
- Take an open stance at the front line, which is imitating the ball, positioned forward. Open the clubface slightly with either a sand wedge, or lob wedge. Keep weight focused on your front foot.
- Take multiple practice swings making sure the club enters the sand from the back line to the front.
- Following each practice swing, note where your club is entering the sand. Repeat until you consistently hit the back line that is two inches behind ball line. Now it’s time to practice with a ball.
- If you happen to hit a ball in the greenside bunker on No. 18 at Manele Golf Course, try not to be distracted by Hulopo’e Beach in the background. Just focus on letting that club enter the sand two inches behind the ball. You will make it look effortless –– thanks to all that practice.