Where did you learn how to play golf? The answers are sure to vary, considering how many of us our transplants to the area. Here in California, we are fortunate to have different styles of golf courses to choose from. We have traditional tree lined courses, we have links style courses, we have high altitude mountain courses, and we have plenty of desert landscaped courses. I haven’t even mentioned our ocean front courses, most notably Pebble Beach and a few others.
The reason I ask is because your golf game is likely to be influenced by the style of golf course in which you learned how to play. I grew up playing golf on a desert landscaped course in Southern New Mexico. The ground was firm, and the wind was common. Based on these facts, I spent much of my youth learning how to hit the ball low, and to use the terrain to assist with my shots.
Those of you who learned to play the game on a more traditional tree lined golf course may have focused more attention on general alignment, and learning to hit the ball as straight as possible. Often times, this may have led you to hit more irons or fairway metals from the tee box.
Evidence of a certain style of play is noticed even at the highest level of play on the PGA Tour. Phil Mickelson, for example, grew up playing golf in the San Diego area before going on to play college golf at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Growing up on the west coast, Phil learned to play on firmer golf courses with bent grass greens. This has led to incredible success for Phil on the west coast swing of the PGA Tour season. As the tour travels east, the styles of the golf courses changes quite a bit. Most of the golf courses offer softer conditions with more water, and the greens are primarily Bermuda grass. These conditions change the way a player must prepare their game. Softer conditions favor a much higher ball flight, and Bermuda greens require that a player be more familiar with the effects of reading grain into their putts. It’s quite different for a player who grew up playing in much different conditions on the west coast.
Golf is unlike any other sport in the world. Every golf course has its own unique features. In every other sport, the conditions and the dimensions of the playing field are more or less the same. Certain golf courses lend themselves more favorably to a certain type of player. Learn to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your golf game, and I’m sure that you can find a golf course that suits your style.