Saturday, 6 August 2011

A Hackers Guide To Royal Ascot - Hole 8 (Grey Poplar)

The eight hole is the shortest on the course and is supposedly the easiest, at least going by the stroke index but short doesn't always mean sweet. Named after the majestic grey poplar tree at the back of the green it only measures 139 yards off the back tee but it's no push over.

The description on the club website sums it up quite nicely.

"Shortest hole on course, but well protected with bunkers and a small green. Correct clubbing will be required to secure par, green is very narrow. A far right pin position asks a lot of questions of the golfer."

It is getting the club selection right that is the main obstacle. If it is playing into the wind it can be a mid iron, certainly for the likes of me but when the wind is with you, it can be an eight or even a nine iron. However it is imperative you take enough club as the bunkers short and to the left are deep. The right hand bunker is also a big no-no as it leaves a horrid shot with a lot of the contours on the green sloping back to front and right to left and so it makes landing the ball perfectly to get it close to any pin placement very tricky.
The view from the tee - doesn't it look so simple?
I've managed my share of birdies on the hole but have yet to threaten the hole for an ace. However it's another one that seems to have a hex on me. Did I mention I hate par threes? I seem to have developed an annoying talent for hitting big high hooks left into the rough or even worse, hitting big cuts right into the thick rough on that side. Left isn't the end of the world as there is usually a modicum of green to play with. Right however is big trouble and is reliant on the lie. Even then you're faced with a delicate pitch over the bunker to a sloping green. I've been known to make a five with consummate ease (and worse) from the right and it's to be avoided.

The view from the front edge
Once you've made it safely aboard the putting surface, the problems aren't over. This is another green with some serious contours and dependant on the pin placement can leave a testing sidehiller for birdie. A good judgement of pace and a keen eye for the correct line are a must.
And there you have it, the shortest hole on the card. It is definitely a birdie opportunity but can just as easily be a bogey or worse. Take care to get the right club and if you hit the centre of the green here everytime you'll never go far wrong or be that far away.

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