Friday, 30 December 2011

A Hackers Guide To Royal Ascot - Hole 14 (Havells Field)

It's back to the par fours and another long hole measuring 430 yards off the white tees. However this hole tends to be fast running, especially close to the green and so does play a little shorter than the yardage book suggests.

This is how it is described on the club website:

A dog leg right, with a water hazard tight to the right of the green. The drive must be played down left side of fairway. Avoid like the plague, the oaks and deep rough on the right. Approach shots can be run onto this green and will require a medium to long iron.

Another daunting tee shot - avoid the big tree left (and its sister right of the dead trunk)
The large oak on the left is very much in play and needs to be avoided. The best line is on the fairway bunker on the apex of the dog leg although care must be taken as it is very much in range as the hole is usually down wind. There is also a large tree to the right, adjacent to the ladies tee and this can also cause problems if you hit a push or a block. At the moment the right hand side isn't too penal as the trees in there are still growing (the course is only six years old) and they are all staked and so a player can get relief. The grass has also been kept to a reasonable length and so it is possible to make progress if you do stray off the fairway.

The biggest obstacle though are the two large trees on the right edge of the fairway. Too straight, too short or too far right and these present a towering obstacle to be negotiated. The brave player may opt to hit a low one between the two trunks but most tend to circumnavigate, lay up and take a chance on a chip and a putt. It is stroke index 5 and so represents a shot hole for many.

If you have found the fairway, care needs to be taken as the environmental area runs along the right edge of the hole and at the edge of the green it is only some five yards from the putting surface and so anything leaking right can be in big trouble. There is a greenside bunker that traps some wayward shots but the best line is to keep it left and look for a favourable bounce off the mounds that surround the left side, taking care to avoid the bunker some ten yards short.

The 14th green from the right hand side
The green itself is bowl shaped and will funnel a shot in towards the centre. There is a steep shoulder on the back left edge which makes life interesting when the flag is positioned in that area. It is a long green by Royal Ascot standards at 32 yards in length.

As we've seen, the ideal shot is to the corner of the dog leg, far enough away from the two trees on the corner to give a long-mid iron in. Take one club less than the yardage tells you as it will run on this hole and so you can afford to be ten yards short and still find the heart of the green.

Although the website guide tells you to avoid the right hand side at all cost there is a little secret I can share. If you hit a true shocker and slice it towards the 13th tee box, it does take the two trees on the dog leg out of play and affords a straight, if longer shot into the green. Of course it does bring the environmental area (lateral water hazard) into play but he who dares and all that. In fact, I've been over there several times and hit a hybrid into the heart of the green and even manufactured a single putt birdie from such a wild tee shot. Similarly I've taken on the gap in the two trees and threaded long irons between them and watched the ball scuttle obediently onto the green thanks to the contours. It can be done but it isn't to be recommended.

If I'm being honest, providing you can get a reasonable tee shot away and miss the large trees short left and right as you view the hole then a nett par shouldn't be too much trouble. It is definitely a hole you can look at picking up a shot (nett birdie) and there really isn't too much to it. Don't become too complacent as we're about to enter the gruelling close and like the opening holes, there is plenty of trouble awaiting before you can sign that scorecard.

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