Carry an ocean—or plumb the depths: 3 steps to tackle a challenging forced carry

October 4, 2017

Robert Trent Jones, Sr.’s iconic par-3 third at Mauna Kea demands a 200-yard-plus carry over the surging Pacific, even from the resort tees. It’s not the “aloha” that tourists typically expect. Short and left is lost; bailing out to the right or carrying the shot too far leaves you in a bunker. It’s big trouble on the Big Island, especially when you add in the off- and on-shore tradewinds. Here’s how to carry the drink and set up a once-in-a-lifetime birdie—here, or wherever your travels take you.


The tendency on long-carry tee shots is to swing out of your spikes. Take a deep breath and think about swinging at 80 to 90 percent of full capacity. The smoother you swing, the better your chances of finding the center of the clubface with less sidespin. Our advice: Pull an extra club, just in case.


Stick with your stock shot shape and always aim where a straight ball can’t end up in trouble. The hole calls for a draw, but if you normally fade the ball, don’t try it. Stick with your left-to-right ball flight. Again, an extra club won’t hurt.


On tough tee shots, think “aim small, miss small.” See the green as a giant dartboard. Locate the bull’s eye, then aim for a crease made by a previous dart. Once you’re focused on this ultra-precise target, fire away. You’ll be surprised at how much tighter your dispersion patterns become. And when you reach the green, remember: putts flow like lava—toward the water.