10 Vital Keys to Success at the 2012 PGA Championship
1. Waste not, want not.
The key to victory will be to stay out of the waste areas. Golfers who are able to do that will not be found wanting. The sand at Kiawah is soft in places, has shells in places and has vegetation growing in places. Plants tend to be tangly seaside stuff, sure to grab the hosel of the club and nudge shots off line; that is, if you are strong.
If you’re not strong, they’ll grab the hosel and throw the club open or closed, and the result won’t be very good.
2. Two drivers.
Because Kiawah is so remote, and because the traffic is going to be bad, the best thing is to avoid the annoyance of driving to the course is to pay someone else to do that. Use the time to call an agent, make dinner reservations, play Words with Friends, anything to distract your mind from sitting in traffic.
Players will also need the other kind of driver, something they can hit to a spot in the fairway, because unlike Olympic Club and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, hitting the driver will be part of the test.
3. Channel Seve Ballesteros.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, take long walks on the beach with a couple of irons—or as Seve used to say, eye-rons—and practice hitting out of all kinds of sand.
4. Rent a house or condo on island or stay at the hotel there.
Staying in Charleston would be a bad rookie mistake. It will take an impossibly long time to get from the mainland out to the course. Because traffic will be packed and slow, golfers could actually miss a tee time if they guess wrong about the length of the commute.
5. Have the hotel restaurant on speed dial or have a friend go grocery shopping at the Village Shops.
While it’s more like the rest of the country than it used to be before there was a grocery store at the Village Shops, it can still be a challenge to find food and drink. Planning ahead is a must. Bring some emergency supplies.
6. Have an evacuation plan, flashlight and glow-in-the-dark breadcrumbs
The evacuation plan is because of Ernesto and Florence, and the flashlight and glowing crumbs are because after dark, you cannot find your way around Kiawah Island at all. If you thought Hilton Head Island was dark at night, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve gotten yourself lost at Kiawah.
7. Get early-morning/early-afternoon tee times on Thursday/Friday.
If there is any wind on Kiawah island in August, be happy because it will help minimize the heat, but pray for early-morning and early-afternoon tee times the first two days to minimize any breeze. If it is windy, it will likely be related to heating of the land, which causes the air to rise and pulls air in off the ocean. A sea breeze.
8. Soft landings
Some golfers hit shots that land and roll, while others hit shots that land and just stop. The latter will have more success at this Pete Dye golf course because shots that roll out can roll out into bad stuff, like waste areas and water. On the greens, pin high shots or that land below the hole with a soft landing would be ideal.
9. No favorites
Like most Pete Dye courses, the only favorite will be the guy who hits all the shots to the strategic spots Dye provides. The sooner a golfer identifies the spots and hits to them—or finds an alternate way to work around the strategy—the better he is going to play.
In the former category would be someone like Matt Kuchar, who played the TPC Sawgrass with great success earlier this year. In the latter would be a guy like J.B. Holmes or Bubba Watson, guys who are so long that they can hit spots nobody else can get to or that nobody else identifies, like John Daly did at Crooked Stick in 1991.
10. Length probably matters, but accuracy matters more
If you have to pick between length or accuracy for the PGA, pick accuracy. Being off line at the Ocean Course is the surest way to a double bogey or worse. It can happen at any time, on any hole, in any round. Whoever has both this week will definitely be the winner, like Martin Kaymer was at Whistling Straits.
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