When you travel on a Real Irish Golf tour to Ireland, you will primarily play our great Links Golf Courses such as Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, Portmarnock and Ballybunion Golf courses. On a links golf course, you will need some different shots than you will typically play at your local country club. Here are five key links golf shots and how to play them, that you will need when you visit Ireland to play our great links golf courses.
Oh, and don’t worry if you have not fully mastered them before arrival, Real Irish Golf uniquely provides a 1 hour Links Golf Course lesson with a PGA pro on Day 1 of your week-long tour to ensure you are ready to hit the links.
Essential on links golf courses will be mastering the driver in windy conditions. When mastered, this will help you avoid the severe penalties that await the wayward drive. The old saying “if it’s breezy (aka windy), swing easy” is essential wisdom. Here are the keys to hitting that lower drive straight down the middle.
(a) Move the ball back just slightly in your stance.
(b) Grip down slightly – a 1/2 to an inch on the shaft.
(c) Smoother swing than normal for two key benefits; firstly you’ll impart less spin and secondly give yourself a better chance of solid contact on the sweet spot, avoiding sidespin.
(d) Stay down through impact; when you hit the straight ball, you will no problem finding it!
2. The ‘Punch’ Shot
Now you’ve hit the fairway but still have a mid iron to a well guarded green with deep fescue grass and pot bunkers awaiting the errant approach; cue the Punch Shot, a key on links golf courses.
(a) Grip down an inch-plus on the shaft.
(b) Play the ball back in your stance – about middle is good – ensuring your hands are forward and lead the club face into the ball.
(c) Put more of your weight on your left side (right-handed golfer).
(d) Keep the follow-through short with the feeling that the club is staying low to the ground.
3. Escaping the Pot Bunker
Found on all links golf courses, many a fine links round has met its untimely death when your ball finds the green-side pot bunker; ask David Duval and Thomas Bjorn! So what to do? First and foremost, don’t try to be a hero – the goal is to get out!
(a) Dig your feet well into the sand to establish a stable base and set 70% of your weight on left side. Maintain this stable body posture throughout the swing.
(b) Open the face of your club to ensure you establish enough loft to clear the lip of the bunker.
(c) Hinge your wrists early to pick the club up steeply. Think of the club handle pointing at the sand.
(d) Commit to the shot and spank down aggressively behind the ball maintaining speed through impact.
(e) Hold the face open through impact and turn through to a high finish.
4. Bump and Run
“Keep it low for the dough”. A must on links golf courses and synonymous with links golf, you will need to engage your creativity to bump and run from a tight lie and use the contours around/on the green to get the ball scooting up to the hole.
(a) Pick the right club – nine, eight or seven iron are generally good choices.
(b) Setup: feet close together, weight forward on left side with hands forward also.
(c) With a simple straight back and through motion – it should feel like an extended putting stroke – hit down on the ball and let club-face roll over through impact.
5. Putting in the Wind
When playing on links golf courses with the wind blowing, putting becomes an even bigger challenge.
Build a solid base by setting a slightly wider stance and flex knees a little more. Because this will put you a little lower, grip down on the putter about an inch. A stronger wind will impact break and speed so take that into account on longer putts. Take your time and be deliberate on those short three footers.