Monday, 31 October 2011

A Hackers Guide To Royal Ascot - Hole 10 (Gray's Copse)

I'm sure many of you were wondering if Royal Ascot was really a nine hole layout as there has been a bit of a delay in our hole by hole guide. Fear not dear blogger, normal service has been resumed. Here we are, on the 10th hole, Gray's Copse. Hopefully the scorecard isn't looking too shabby so far and we can kick on in style on the back nine.

This hole tees off directly outside the professionals shop and so it's very common to have you swing studied and scrutinised by Ali or his assistant Jamie loitering by the door. On paper it isn't a very tricky hole as the stroke index of 11 would indicate. It is a gentle dogleg from right to left and like many at Royal Ascot the drive is the key. There is a large house adjacent to the left hand side of the hole which is out of bounds and to be avoided and thick, punishing right awaits anything sliced or pushed too far. The ideal line is on the dead tree at the end of the fairway.

On the dead tree or slightly left of that is ideal
The hole only measures 371 yards and this fairway is one of those that tends to give a bit of run throughout the year. Get a good drive away and you are left with a short iron approach in. There is a temptation to try and cut a bit off the corner of the dog-leg but over cook it and the garden extends further than it seems and can trap an unsuspecting player. Beyond the fence line on the left lies very deep rough.

Even though you are left with a relatively easy second, make sure you select your club wisely. Long is dead here. The green has a very sharp slope at the back and anything running through will roll down into a ditch making a recovery shot almost impossible. This is where the double bogey or worse comes from. If you miss it left there is a bunker waiting. Miss right and there is a run off area which will collect your ball and guide it towards the fringe rough making a chip and a putt tricky.
Select your club wisely - middle of the green every time
The green itself will receive a well struck shot, even if it is from further back than intended. There is a slope at the front which will kill anything landing into it and it does run very much back to front all the way and left to right as you approach. It is another that never seems to have a dead straight line on any putt even from close range.

This hole offers a good chance of par and the chance to get the back nine off to a solid start. Indeed if you can get a good drive into the fairway, it is viewed as a birdie opportunity and even this hacker has managed a few of those in his time. Beware though. If you find the right hand rough, finding the ball will constitute a minor miracle, playing it out an even greater one. Lost ball and a reload is the usual penalty. Similarly stray too far left and the same fate can await especially as the dog-leg and the fence line can prevent you actually seeing where it lands.

We have one gentleman at the club by the name of Billy Koen who tends to make this hole a mockery. He is an ex-tour player from the Sunshine Tour down in South Africa and Zimbabwe and he strikes a might long ball. In the summer he has been known to hit the fringe of the green. That's outrageous whichever way you cut it. Here am I grateful to get there in two and he's thinking eagle. Still I guess that is why even now, with far less practice he still makes a 2 handicap look ridiculously easy at times.

So there we go. Nothing out of the ordinary to scare you and a gentle introduction to the back nine. A definite birdie chance but with a few pitfalls to catch the unwary golfer. If you can get off to a fast start here it will stand you in good stead as there are sterner challenges ahead.

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