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Watching golfers this week at the British Open at Carnoustie, you'll see the type of game you'd need if you ever head over to Europe to play golf.
Watching golfers this week at the British Open at Carnoustie, you'll see the type of game you'd need if you ever head over to Europe to play golf. (Brandon Tucker/GolfPublisher.com)

Some lessons to take away from watching the British Open

Chuck EvansBy Chuck Evans,
Special Contributor

Golfers in the U.S. are spoiled when it comes to course conditions and the type of golf we play here versus in Europe.

The British Open is usually an extreme example of the contrast in golf between the two. While courses in the U.S. normally accept shots fired at the pin, the reverse is true at the British Open.

Watch the British Open and you'll see the type of golf (and preparation) you would need if you are intending to head over to Europe, especially to Britain, for a golf vacation.

The run and punch shot

Most shots on British golf courses are played short of the green and run up to the hole. Shots fired at the pin usually go off the green leaving delicate little chips and pitches. Of course the player also has the option of putting from 30 yards off the green as well.

But that's just one type of shot you would need.

Watch the pros at Carnoustie and see how they hit a lot of punch and knockdown shots to keep the ball below the tree lines and out of the wind. To hit this type of shot position the ball back in your stance from your normal position. Be sure to increase the weight distribution to favor the front leg and foot and then leavbe it there during the stroke. After impact keep the club low to follow through. If you rotate the club face slightly you can hit a low punch draw.

If you hold the club face it will generally produce a straight punch and if you feel a little "reverse" action of the clubface you can hit punch fade. Experiment a little to find your ball location for those windy days.

Surviving those deep bunkers and tricky greens

British golf courses are notorious for deep pot bunkers, something you don't see much on U.S. golf courses. There will be times when playing the ball backward is the best choice. There have been a lot of players that have tried to advance the ball from one of these caverns and wind up having to hit a second and third shot from bunker.

In the U.S. we very seldom are faced with these types of shots. I would suggest that you don't try to be a hero, take your medicine and move on. You'll have plenty of holes and times to make birdies during the round.

Putting is also very tricky on European greens. In the U.S. we are use to smooth, well manicured greens, not so on British courses. The greens are usually bumpy, lots of undulation and slower then U.S. greens. Take your time, hit the putt a little firmer, and be committed to the line. Speed is always a factor so don't fall in love with the line.

Oh, and the weather is awful

As you'll probably see at the British Open, it can be rainy and cold over there. You'll need headgear, cold weather, rain gear, lots of gloves and a hand warmer. Dress in layers whenever possible but nothing restrictive, you still need to move and make a golf swing.

There's nothing you can do about conditions so just accept the fact that the round isn't going to be pleasant and that everyone else is playing in the same conditions.

We have it so good over here that sometimes we don't realize how poor course conditions can be outside of the U.S. It's a different game in Europe and if you ever get the chance to go over and play don't hesitate!

Chuck Evans, G.S.E.D., a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, is one of only 31 golf instructors worldwide designated to hold a doctorate in golf stroke engineering. He is executive director of instruction for the Medicus Golf Institute and has served as director of schools for the PGA Tour Golf Academy, and as director of instruction for the United States Golf Institute. He is also the author of "How To Build Your Golf Swing."

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Carnoustie

    John Brown wrote on: Jul 25, 2007

    The reason Carnoustie is a brilliant course has to do with accuracy and length. Most par 4 holes are over 460 yards and there is also a 249 yard par 3 to a green that's only 10 yards wide. Miss a fairway too widely and there is no way back - it's a shot dropped. Same with the bunkers - get in one and it's likely to be a dropped shot. It's a better venue than Hoylake or St Andrews because players have to commit to a a long accurate drive from the tee, then follow it up with an excellent long iron to a green with lots of humps and hollow. The last 3 holes really need nerve and bottle. I watched Phil and Tiger lose with on their inaccurate tee shots. Padraig played excellent golf (until the last hole) then played some more excellent golf in the play-off, but sergio lost it with poor putting.


      • RE: Carnoustie

        Chuck Evans wrote on: Jul 31, 2007

        You are dead right John! As in most "Open" courses driving accuracy is a premium, hit it the tall stuff and it's all over!
        Congratulations to Paddie and may this be the first of many more.