The 2014 Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale will provide a tremendous stage for the talented field of participants.
Links golf tests every aspect of a player's game, from the mental side to the necessity of various types of shots.
In looking at what makes a player successful at the British Open, it's easy to see how those shots and decision-making skills can help all golfers.
Here are some links-style golf tips to improve your game on ANY course:
• Putt with a hybrid. Todd Hamilton made this shot popular in winning the 2004 Open Championship on the men's side. Select your longest/least-lofted hybrid, grip down almost to the shaft, and make a putting stroke swing. Because a hybrid has more loft (18-22 degrees) and a putter has very little loft (four degrees or so), the golf ball will be less likely to be impeded on its way to the green. If you are too far to putt and don't want to chip, using a hybrid is a surprisingly simple and extremely effective shot.
• Improve your lag putting. Even if you don't have British Open sized greens at your home course, it's always a good idea to work on your lag putting. Next time you practice longer putts, experiment with these tips. First, break up a long putt into thirds. Look at each third like its own putt to see all of the nuances. Second, walk the line of the putt to see and feel in your feet what the ball will do. Lastly, work on your short putts. Practice 2-6 footers from all sides of the hole. When you are confident with the short putts, it will translate to more confidence on your long putts.
• Hit it low. The combination of wind, rolling terrain and required accuracy makes hitting a lower shot crucial in a British Open (think of the "stinger" by Tiger Woods or, more recently, Michelle Wie). To hit a lower shot, regardless of location, make some setup and swing changes for success. Move the ball position slightly back in your stance, position your hands slightly forward, and concentrate on finishing your swing lower than normal.
• The best offense is a good defense. When we think of British Open bunkers, we picture their difficulty. Many players have to play away from the flags, hit a shot backwards, or even take an unplayable lie to avoid making a big number. Keep this strategy in mind when playing at your home course. Your course might not have diabolical pot bunkers like you'll see at Birkdale, but some lies require smart decisions with safer shots to avoid the big number.
While watching the best players in the world at the 2014 Women's British Open this week, observe how links golf influences decision making and shot choices.
Experiment with a hybrid around the greens, practice your long putting, work on hitting low shots, and make safe decisions from the sand to see your scores improve.
For more tips from Golf Channel to help you improve your overall game, click here.