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How to deal with firm and fast course conditions

Kevin Streelman Tampa Bay
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Kevin Streelman came out on top Sunday in the Tampa Bay Championship, completing his victory in one of the toughest PGA Tour events of the season.

The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort gave the players all they wanted with conditions that were repeatedly described as firm and fast.

Depending on where you live, you either deal with firm and fast golf courses all the time, or hardly ever. For the northern states, you may get to see a firm and fast golf course only a few times a year.

When conditions do yield a firm and fast course, what adjustments can you make to your game to get the most out of the situation?

• Short game tends to be affected the most when conditions are firm and fast. If you find yourself in these conditions often, make sure the degrees of bounce on your wedges aren’t too high. The lower bounce will get the leading edge of your wedge closer to the ground, helping you make solid contact with the ball and turf.

• Incorporate the “bump and run” around the greens. When the ground is firm, the ball will roll more no matter what you do. When choosing your target, consider the condition of your landing spot (slope, firmness, condition of the turf, etc.). Trying to predict the first bounce the ball will take on a bump-and-run shot is the key to executing that shot successfully.

• Stay below the hole whenever possible. This is a good rule of thumb all the time, but especially when conditions are firm and fast. Your course management will be crucial to make sure you choose clubs that will keep you below the hole. For example, if you can’t decide between a 9-iron and a pitching wedge, choose the pitching wedge. In most cases, if you hit it past the hole, you’ll be faced with a fast downhill shot next.

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