A Practical Guide to Good Scoring at Woodbridge

Navigate Woodbridge Golf & Country Club's challenging holes with expert tips: Tackle the par-3 #3 Vineyard by playing smart, not perfect. On #10 River, weigh the risks before attempting a daring shot. Approach #5 Lake with strategy over power, and refine your long shots to narrow greens by prioritizing course management. Improve your game by making informed decisions and considering a playing lesson to enhance your strategy and skills.

By Ryan Williams, Woodbridge Player Development Pro

Hole: #3 Vineyard
The third hole on the Vineyard is one of the more intimidating par 3’s without a lake, canyon, or penalty area. For the length of the tee shot (180 from Chardonnay or 205 from Zinfandel), it is an unusually small target. When playing a hole this difficult, it is first important to understand that every level of player struggles to hit the green. As a matter of fact, PGA Tour players hit 53 percent of greens from 175-200 yds and our average size of green is much smaller than that of an average tour green. All statistics point to this not being a birdie hole.

So, if a 2 is rare, how do we maximize our chances of making par? The very first thing on any hole one needs to consider when choosing a strategy is where the pin is cut on a given day. On the 3rd hole, I have two clear rules:

  1. When the pin is back, the ball under no circumstances can get past pin high.
  2. When the pin is front, the ball must fly past the hole.

The reason these rules are in place is to give myself green to work with should I miss the green, which every level of player will. Short of a back pin, even in the bunker, leaves a manageable up and down; the same is true of missing long to front pins. Stop trying to be perfect on long shots such as this and you will make more pars!

Hole: #10 River
The 10th on the River is a spectacular hole, a throwback to a time when the ball curved much more, a tee shot that confronts you with a decision immediately. Do I play conservatively out to the right? Or do I attempt perhaps the most difficult shot with modern equipment (a high draw with a long club)? Some members are excellent at turning the ball from right-to-left; Jason Reich and Mitch Harrison come to mind. Those who can pull that shot off and are longer hitters will have a chance to reach the green in two. Too often though, I see members trying the more difficult option off the tee when they cannot reach the green in two.

Golfers, especially on par 5’s, must understand the risks of the decisions they make. If the reward is not worth the risk, then the risk should not be taken. The 10th tee is a perfect example. Many golfers would be better off deciding on the tee that they will take 3 shots to reach the green. That way, those trees on the left that have ruined so many rounds would be casually passed by.

Hole: #5 Lake
One of the most difficult holes on any of our three courses, 5 on the Lake has halted the momentum of many great rounds. Unless one can hit a long club extraordinarily high on their second shot, it is an example of a true three shot par 5, a rarity in today’s game. Still, when driving around or playing with members, more often than not I see driver as the club of choice off the tee. That’s a risky proposition with penalty areas on both sides of the hole.

Instead, let’s look at the hole itself. It is very straight for just under 400 yards and then tuns sharply to the left for the last 130 yards or so. Instead of hitting a driver off the tee simply because it is a par 5, the better strategy is to ask yourself, “What’s the simplest way to cover the distance to the corner?” For many members, covering that distance would not require a driver and a wood. Very similar to the 10th of the River, if you can understand what you stand to gain, you can keep those big numbers off of your scorecard!

Situation: Long Approaches to Pins on Narrow Greens
Many times, at Woodbridge, we are hitting approaches into greens with clubs longer than a 9-iron to narrow targets. Often on such a shot, there are bunkers on both sides of the green and missing on either side of the green pin high leaves a very tough pitch or bunker shot to leave close to the hole. This can happen when the pin is in the front of the green on 6 of the Vineyard, 9 of the Vineyard, or 1 on the River. It can also happen when pins are cut on the back of the green of the 2nd hole of the River where missing the green on any side leaves a pitch running away from you with little green to work with.

If you do not have a wedge in your hands, the statistics will say you are not in a “birdie situation” to any of the pins mentioned. On the front pins listed above, the correct strategy would be to ensure your ball lands past pin high and over the bunkers; this makes your target wider to hit the green and leaves more green to work with should you miss. On the 2nd of the River, don’t be seduced into going for the back left pin. Any professional tour field would average over par to that pin. Thus, the better strategy is to play for the middle of the green short and right, two-putt from 30 feet, and happily run to the 12th tee with par.

You’re probably sensing the theme of this month’s tip is some version of not trying to do too much. Too often players bemoan the states of their game and punish themselves for the inability to reach a standard the best players don’t even ask themselves to. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone! The longer I compete, the more I realize great golf has as much to do with how our minds work as our physical ability. Is your decision-making or course management holding you back? Perhaps it’s time to get on the course with Teresa, Perry, or myself. A playing lesson can go a long way in a coach’s understanding of the student’s game and the student’s ability to put a round together.

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