How to play an island green, in 4 foolproof steps

March 12, 2020
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 11: General view of the 17th green during a practice round prior to The PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2020 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Island greens are fairly rare on golf courses, which is why they are that much more intimidating when you come across one. Unlike most flaws in golf, the same intimidation is felt by players of all skill levels. Take the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass for example. That island green strikes fear into the eyes of golf’s best.

Hitting the green is one thing but getting the ball to stop on the green is another. Here are four things you can do to make sure your ball gets (and stays) on those tricky island greens.

Step 1: Grip Pressure

Focus on your grip pressure. This is the kind of shot where golfers tend to tense up. Focus on keeping your grip pressure *consistent* throughout your swing. This will stop you from speeding up and getting out of sync in your downswing. A great drill to work on this is to hit shots with your mouth open throughout your swing. That might sound crazy but trust me, it works.

Step 2: Take an extra club

Pick the club that will be on the green 100% of the time. Find the approximate distance to the front and back edges of the green. Select the club that matches with the number of the center of the green. This isn’t any time to get cute with that *might* make it if you max it out or should be fine if you take your swing down a few notches. Trust the number, trust the club.

TPC Sawgrass hosts the Players Championship every year.
Getty Images

Step 3: Pick a small target

Pick a small, specific target. Instead of just generally hoping the ball gets on the green, pick a branch on a tree in the distance or a specific area of the green to hit. The smaller your target, the smaller your miss!

Step 4: Pick a swing thought

If you are someone who tends to hit the ball lower or thin, you will need to swing more up and down. You want to swing more like a Ferris wheel than a carousel. People who hit thin or lower shots tend to be swinging too much around their body causing the club to hit the equator of the ball – like a carousel. If you can swing slightly more up and down on this type of a shot, you will see higher, spinnier shots that will hold the green more effectively.

Keep your grip consistent, trust the club, narrow-in on a specific target and swing with a Ferris Wheel-like motion. These same principles will help you stick any tough to hit green. If you watch the action closely at The Players Championship, you’ll notice the field taking these same approaches.

 

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