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Observations From a Golf Course Employee


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#61 farmer

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 12:13 PM

August, if I hit every shot so that I could see it stop, I think I would struggle playing no club longer than an 8 iron.  My little home course is death off the back of the green.  As Cardy mentioned, every shot off the back leaves a pitch out of tall grass over a mound to a green that runs away.


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#62 Loki

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 12:22 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 12 May 2017 - 05:53 AM, said:

View PostLoki, on 11 May 2017 - 09:07 PM, said:

Hmmm, I find that most trouble is in front of the green.  Most bunkers are in front, most water is in front.  Designers know that people don't take enough club or mishit most shots so that's where the trouble is.  I would rather be over the green 10 yards than short 5 yards.  If I'm short 5 yards, I am in a bunker, if I am long 10 yards, I don't usually have a problem.  But that's just me.

It depends entirely on the courses you play. My home course (where I play 120+ times a year) has a pond in front of one Par 5 green and one Par 3 green. There is one other hole fronted by bunkers. The other 15 of 18 greens are such that being more or less in line with the middle of the green and 10-15 yards short of the front of the green is a better place to be than a miss on any other side.

You are correct, it's even hole dependent.  In general though, the trouble is in the front half of the green, not the back.

Edited by Loki, 12 May 2017 - 12:23 PM.


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#63 jut111

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 02:23 PM

View PostLoki, on 12 May 2017 - 12:22 PM, said:

View PostNorth Butte, on 12 May 2017 - 05:53 AM, said:

View PostLoki, on 11 May 2017 - 09:07 PM, said:

Hmmm, I find that most trouble is in front of the green.  Most bunkers are in front, most water is in front.  Designers know that people don't take enough club or mishit most shots so that's where the trouble is.  I would rather be over the green 10 yards than short 5 yards.  If I'm short 5 yards, I am in a bunker, if I am long 10 yards, I don't usually have a problem.  But that's just me.

It depends entirely on the courses you play. My home course (where I play 120+ times a year) has a pond in front of one Par 5 green and one Par 3 green. There is one other hole fronted by bunkers. The other 15 of 18 greens are such that being more or less in line with the middle of the green and 10-15 yards short of the front of the green is a better place to be than a miss on any other side.

You are correct, it's even hole dependent.  In general though, the trouble is in the front half of the green, not the back.

Depends on your view on bunkers. Give me a miss in a front bunker over a miss long leaving me a slippery chip to an elevated green running away from me out of thick rough any day.

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#64 North Butte

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 02:28 PM

I heard an after-dinner talk by an ex-Tour pro years ago, on the subject of golf course design and the Tour player. He said Tour players tend to like course where being pin-high left or right is better than being long or short. To their view controlling your distance correctly and just misses a few yards to one side of the other is a "better" shot than one coming 10+ yards short and therefore ought to be rewarded.

Of course that's the opposite of a lot of old-school courses with the back to front tilt and flanking bunkers, often with run-up areas open in front of the green. Hackers tend to enjoy that older style and not like courses with flattish greens protected in front by water and bunkers.
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#65 Loki

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 02:43 PM

View Postjut111, on 12 May 2017 - 02:23 PM, said:

View PostLoki, on 12 May 2017 - 12:22 PM, said:

View PostNorth Butte, on 12 May 2017 - 05:53 AM, said:

View PostLoki, on 11 May 2017 - 09:07 PM, said:

Hmmm, I find that most trouble is in front of the green.  Most bunkers are in front, most water is in front.  Designers know that people don't take enough club or mishit most shots so that's where the trouble is.  I would rather be over the green 10 yards than short 5 yards.  If I'm short 5 yards, I am in a bunker, if I am long 10 yards, I don't usually have a problem.  But that's just me.

It depends entirely on the courses you play. My home course (where I play 120+ times a year) has a pond in front of one Par 5 green and one Par 3 green. There is one other hole fronted by bunkers. The other 15 of 18 greens are such that being more or less in line with the middle of the green and 10-15 yards short of the front of the green is a better place to be than a miss on any other side.

You are correct, it's even hole dependent.  In general though, the trouble is in the front half of the green, not the back.

Depends on your view on bunkers. Give me a miss in a front bunker over a miss long leaving me a slippery chip to an elevated green running away from me out of thick rough any day.

It really is a personal preference.


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#66 JShaw

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 11:10 AM

IMHO golfers should plan for success rather than failure.  If a golfer knows REALISTICALLY how far he hits his clubs then course management is all that's left.  I don't subscribe to the idea that if you're not striking the ball well that day then you should take more club.  Take the appropriate club for the yardage you want to achieve and plan for success rather than taking the wrong club and planning for failure.  I've tried both ways and my swing gets back to normal a lot faster if I keep the right club in my hand.  Too many times I've tried the "hit more club" idea when swinging poorly only to finally make a good pass into the junk long of the green.  Making a good swing and hitting into a terrible spot doesn't help get your game back on track if you'be been struggling that day.

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#67 mr_oldredtop

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 01:03 PM

View Postdbleag, on 09 May 2017 - 10:11 AM, said:

Ben Hogan once told me, "never be long on a shot with a back pin, never be short of a front pin never be right of a right pin and never be left of a left pin."

Good one Ben...  I'll bet that advice works every time it's tried... :)

I like to take my range finder reading and "round up" to the next club... unless the pin is at the back of the green.  Helps keep the "kill it" switch turned off.
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#68 BillyClub

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 01:19 PM

View Postaugustgolf, on 09 May 2017 - 10:03 AM, said:

I was teaching a guy years ago that had a really good natural swing. Told him to play a round trying to hit the back fringe of every green.

I think this is a great tip. I always aim for the center of the green and my mishits are short. I'm thinking this will actually help me carry it to where it needs to be instead of what my mind thinks my carry is.
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#69 gambit

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 01:31 PM

Going long on almost all of the courses I frequent is death. You're either in bushes or tall grass, on another tee box or cart path, or you're going to get a terrible lie. I'd rather be in a bunker. If I'm short it's because of a mishit or it's intentional because of how I'm trusting my short game as opposed to hitting a longer club where I'm missing one way or another.
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#70 Obee

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 12:58 AM

View Postdbleag, on 09 May 2017 - 10:11 AM, said:

Ben Hogan once told me, "never be long on a shot with a back pin, never be short of a front pin never be right of a right pin and never be left of a left pin."

Watch tournament golf on TV and you'll see no one following his advice.

"Never" is never valid in golf....


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#71 farmer

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 11:18 AM

Hogan was good enough to follow his own advice.  Hdcp players, well, not so much.

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#72 Obee

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 02:05 AM

View Postfarmer, on 25 May 2017 - 11:18 AM, said:

Hogan was good enough to follow his own advice.  Hdcp players, well, not so much.

My point was that sometimes the best miss is a short-sided miss. Just depends on the course and the pin in question.... :-)

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#73 Matchplay10033

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 09:06 AM

This is something I've started doing.. I noticed that 90 percent of the time my approaches were usually 10 yards or so short so if my instinct is to hit a 9 iron I will club up and find my shots are now pin high or slightly longer...

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#74 cowbomb02

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 11:09 AM

I think most ppl would rather go full swing rather than 1 club up and choke down. just my opinion though

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#75 EddieEdwards

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 11:54 AM

If I'm playing a distance ball, I'm playing to the front most of the time.  Otherwise they roll off the back.


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#76 aliikane

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 04:02 PM

If you watch the tour pros, their misses come up short more than going long. Much less and to a much lesser degree. However,  I think there is more to it than just under clubbing, it is psychological. I think it is more uncomfortable for a shot to go long than go short.

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#77 suprfli6

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 06:32 AM

View Postaliikane, on 06 June 2017 - 04:02 PM, said:

If you watch the tour pros, their misses come up short more than going long. Much less and to a much lesser degree. However,  I think there is more to it than just under clubbing, it is psychological. I think it is more uncomfortable for a shot to go long than go short.
I think their most common miss is actually pin high but left or right. Depends on a lot of factors though.

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#78 larrybud

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 08:16 AM

I think it's funny that people think that using more club will automatically put you over the green if you flush it.  Most greens are about 30 yards in depth, so using 1 more club to the center yardage will not put you over the green, but a mishit will more likely put you on the front of the green.

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#79 North Butte

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 08:19 AM

View Postlarrybud, on 07 June 2017 - 08:16 AM, said:

I think it's funny that people think that using more club will automatically put you over the green if you flush it.  Most greens are about 30 yards in depth, so using 1 more club to the center yardage will not put you over the green, but a mishit will more likely put you on the front of the green.

You play some courses with big greens.
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#80 finleysg

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 08:21 AM

View PostObee, on 29 May 2017 - 02:05 AM, said:

View Postfarmer, on 25 May 2017 - 11:18 AM, said:

Hogan was good enough to follow his own advice.  Hdcp players, well, not so much.

My point was that sometimes the best miss is a short-sided miss. Just depends on the course and the pin in question.... :-)

Never speak in absolutes! We have several greens where a short-sided shot is the better option than middle of the green. Even off the green, the short side is up hill and into the grain (our greens, while bent grass, are very grainy). Middle of the green has you putting down grain with the green running away from you after the pin.

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#81 North Butte

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 08:39 AM

The best miss is the one that leaves you the easiest next shot.

Any course where the best miss is ALWAYS short or ALWAYS long or ALWAYS anything must be a pretty boring course to play more than once in a while.

Also boring would be a course where it doesn't matter where you miss. I've played a few of them over the years. Flat greens without a lot of trouble around them, usually.
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#82 Obee

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 08:55 AM

View Postfinleysg, on 07 June 2017 - 08:21 AM, said:

View PostObee, on 29 May 2017 - 02:05 AM, said:

View Postfarmer, on 25 May 2017 - 11:18 AM, said:

Hogan was good enough to follow his own advice.  Hdcp players, well, not so much.

My point was that sometimes the best miss is a short-sided miss. Just depends on the course and the pin in question.... :-)

Never speak in absolutes! We have several greens where a short-sided shot is the better option than middle of the green. Even off the green, the short side is up hill and into the grain (our greens, while bent grass, are very grainy). Middle of the green has you putting down grain with the green running away from you after the pin.

Yes, that is exactly my point. We have a hole at our course, number two, that has a tucked-right pin location. However, because of the way the green is designed, missing pin high right or short right is far better than missing to the fat of the green left.

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#83 North Butte

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 09:19 AM

View PostObee, on 07 June 2017 - 08:55 AM, said:

View Postfinleysg, on 07 June 2017 - 08:21 AM, said:

View PostObee, on 29 May 2017 - 02:05 AM, said:

View Postfarmer, on 25 May 2017 - 11:18 AM, said:

Hogan was good enough to follow his own advice.  Hdcp players, well, not so much.

My point was that sometimes the best miss is a short-sided miss. Just depends on the course and the pin in question.... :-)

Never speak in absolutes! We have several greens where a short-sided shot is the better option than middle of the green. Even off the green, the short side is up hill and into the grain (our greens, while bent grass, are very grainy). Middle of the green has you putting down grain with the green running away from you after the pin.

Yes, that is exactly my point. We have a hole at our course, number two, that has a tucked-right pin location. However, because of the way the green is designed, missing pin high right or short right is far better than missing to the fat of the green left.

I'm familiar with that sort of design feature. And it really is a "feature" any time a course offers specific, even counter-intuitive, tricks that come into play for a certain hole location.

There's a hole location on the 2nd hole at my home course. Tucked as far into the back-left corner as you could get. There's a bunker left of that corner and a steep falloff of eight feet behind the green. So the obvious, smart play is anywhere on the front 2/3 of the green and not mess with the bunker or being dead over the green.

Here's the thing. The best putters I know will often three-putt from 40 feet or so if they're down on the front of the green putting to that hole. You have to come up a 2' tall ridge onto the back tier and the ridge is angled where any putt will break hard as it crests the ridge. Playing the obvious, smart shot absolutely brings bogey into play.

The counter-intuitive option is to try and get the ball onto that upper tier. It won't stay on the green but there's a buffer of short rough (or long fringe grass I guess you'd say) just off the back-left corner of the green. If you're sure you won't miss left in the bunker or long over the green, a reasonably accurate shot will bounce into that buffer area and leave you an 8-10 yard chip. You can even use putter because the grass is short.

It's a great green complex. If the hole is all the way in front then you're better off missing just short of the green rather than taking a chance of putting off the green from above the hole. If it's in the middle of the green you can fire right at it and that ridge leading to the back tier will backstop you. And if it is back-right you can play to the middle of the green and have a straight putt up the ridge rather than an angled one.

So one green, several obvious and not-so-obvious "course management" plays depending on where they cut the hole that day. It's also a slight dogleg fairway so where you tee shot ends up can also influence the "smart" approach shot choice. Brilliant hole. I "hate" it because I make so many double bogeys but no really. I'm fine with having a hole that requires good execution as long as the shot being demanded can vary from day to day.

What I really hate is a hole where you have exactly one required shot off the tee (maybe a narrow fairway with OB left and water right, like a lot of resort-residential courses along the coast) and then one required shot from the fairway (maybe get it on the green somewhere while avoiding four or five deep bunkers on all side). Really difficult but with subtleties that even a double-digit handicapper can appreciate? Great hole. Really difficult and obvious? Poor hole.
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#84 suprfli6

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 09:25 AM

View PostNorth Butte, on 07 June 2017 - 08:19 AM, said:

View Postlarrybud, on 07 June 2017 - 08:16 AM, said:

I think it's funny that people think that using more club will automatically put you over the green if you flush it.  Most greens are about 30 yards in depth, so using 1 more club to the center yardage will not put you over the green, but a mishit will more likely put you on the front of the green.

You play some courses with big greens.
I just fired up Google Earth and my home course greens are an average of 22.8 yards from front to back. There is one green that is 30+ yards deep. There are six that are under 20 yards. Average square footage of each green = 1284. PGA tour average is 6000 lol.

Luckily it is a short course, the small greens that are also quite sloped and usually very firm would be a nightmare if you were hitting mid irons or longer into all of them.

Edited by suprfli6, 07 June 2017 - 09:35 AM.


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#85 North Butte

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 09:30 AM

View Postsuprfli6, on 07 June 2017 - 09:25 AM, said:

View PostNorth Butte, on 07 June 2017 - 08:19 AM, said:

View Postlarrybud, on 07 June 2017 - 08:16 AM, said:

I think it's funny that people think that using more club will automatically put you over the green if you flush it.  Most greens are about 30 yards in depth, so using 1 more club to the center yardage will not put you over the green, but a mishit will more likely put you on the front of the green.

You play some courses with big greens.
I just fired up Google Earth and my home course greens are an average of 22.8 yards from front to back. There is one green that is 30+ yards deep. There are six that are under 20 yards.

Luckily it is a short course, the small greens that are also quite sloped and usually very firm would be a nightmare if you were hitting mid irons or longer into all of them.

I don't have a scorecard handy but our scorecards have the depths of each green listed. From memory I think 3 of 4 (out of 27 holes) are 30 yards or more and probably about that same number are less than 20 yards. The majority are clustered right around 25-26 yards and most people who visit our course comment that the greens seem very large.

But the measured front-edge to back-edge distance doesn't really tell you much if the greens are a) severely tilted in the old-school manner or b) broken up by ridges and humps into "greens within the green" in the modern style. At my home course a couple of the largest greens edge-to-edge, on any given day if the hole is cut in certain sections, may offer only 10-12 yards of working depth for a given approach shot.

A chicken is just an egg's way of making more eggs.

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#86 jslane57

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 09:32 AM

View Postdbleag, on 09 May 2017 - 10:11 AM, said:

Ben Hogan once told me, "never be long on a shot with a back pin, never be short of a front pin never be right of a right pin and never be left of a left pin."

Watch tournament golf on TV and you'll see no one following his advice.
This is still wonderful advice for 99% of the golfers out there. And may have been wonderful advice to the tour players at the time, as greens were not quite what they are today. Wasn't there a study with a group of golfers where they played a number of rounds of golf without any pins? Without any knowledge of hole position they generally played to the center of the greens, and everyone of them had lower scores? I'll have to look around for it...
"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts" -Einstein

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#87 Fade to Black

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 09:37 AM

All else being equal, I prefer to under-club on purpose. Reason being, most the courses I play at have the green slope from back to front. If I'm short, I have an uphill putt/chip. If I'm long, it's a tricky downhill putt/chip.

Unless there's obvious trouble short of the green, I almost always would take short as my miss.

Edited by Fade to Black, 07 June 2017 - 09:43 AM.

Driver: Callaway GBB 9.5* (Diamana ahina 70X)
Wood: Callaway X2 Hot 3Deep 14.5* (Veylix Rome 888 Rainbow Plasma)
Hybrid: Taylormade RBZ 19* (Fujikura Speeder TS H9.8)
Irons: Nike VR_S Forged 4-PW (DG X100)
Wedges: Cleveland RTX 2.0 CB 50*/54*/58*
Putter: Odyssey Tank Cruiser #7
Balls: Srixon QStar/ZstarXV

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#88 Matt J

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 09:42 AM

Grass is green.

Golf is played between the tee markers and the pin.  Most golfers know that deep is dead.  Punitive features behind greens kept the game safer.

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#89 North Butte

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 09:57 AM

View PostMatt J, on 07 June 2017 - 09:42 AM, said:

Grass is green.

Golf is played between the tee markers and the pin.  Most golfers know that deep is dead.  Punitive features behind greens kept the game safer.

I tend to get carried away on these threads. But honestly, the "always take an extra club" nonsense doesn't require elaborate refutation. As you say, most golfers (at most courses) know that long is dead and take pains not to be overclubbing into disaster. It's really quite simple and obvious.
A chicken is just an egg's way of making more eggs.

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#90 andrue

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 10:34 AM

View Postlarrybud, on 07 June 2017 - 08:16 AM, said:

I think it's funny that people think that using more club will automatically put you over the green if you flush it.  Most greens are about 30 yards in depth
Not in the UK. At least not any I've played on. I doubt most are even thirty feet across let alone yards.

And another common feature over here is that the back of the green is usually OOB or jungle. We don't have oodles of land (more for financial/legal reasons than lack of geography truth be told) to devote to golf courses so the designer will only implement the bare minimum. Tee box, fairway, green. Anything else is just a waste of space and more often than not OOB is someone else' property. You go more than a couple of yards past the back of the green at most of the UK courses I've played and you've lost your ball.

Edited by andrue, 07 June 2017 - 10:39 AM.

Callaway XR Driver.
Callaway Big Bertha OS Hybrids (3/4/5)
Callaway Big Bertha OS Irons (6/7/8/9/PW/AW/SW)
Cleveland 60* LW
Callaway 64* Sureout wedge
Ghost Spider Si 72 Putter
Callaway Super Soft Yellow (White in winter).

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