Handling Augusta National-like elevation changes


Last year, I was fortunate enough to visit Augusta National during the Masters for the first time. After watching the tournament on TV every year, seeing the golf course in person was incredible.

With the invention of high-definition television, viewers at home are getting a more realistic perspective on how magnificent Augusta National is as a golf course.

But even with this new technology, it is difficult to see how much elevation change there is on the course.

Approach shots to elevated greens, uneven fairways and undulated putting surfaces are just a few of the challenges that the best players in the world will face this week in the year’s first major championship.

Here are some keys to consider when dealing with various situations that involve elevation changes:

• When hitting an approach shot to an elevated green, it's important to make the proper adjustment to your yardage. Most players know that an elevated green will effectively add yardage, but how much do you add? The easiest way to determine the proper yardage is to use a range finder that adjusts for slope. However, they are illegal to use in competition. But there’s nothing wrong with using one in a practice round and mapping out the approach shots that you know you’ll likely have.

• Make the proper adjustment for an uneven lie. When the ball is above or below your feet, understand that the more loft your club has the more you need to adjust your aim. Knowing exactly how much you need to adjust requires experience. Most driving ranges have only flat surfaces to hit from, so try asking the staff if there is an area where you could practice uneven lies. If not, schedule more time on the course to drop a few balls down to practice shots from uneven lies.

• When I was at the Masters last year, it amazed me just how many times players would intentionally come up short on their approach shots. They would then make the easy chip and putt to save par, while players that would hit the green and be just past the hole would often 3-putt for bogey. At Augusta especially, it’s no good if your ball is above the hole. Most courses are designed the same way, with greens that slope from front to back, but slower green speeds make shots that go long less penalizing. If you’re dealing with fast greens, do everything you can to keep your approaches below the hole.

For more tips from Golf Channel to help you manage difficult shots, click here.