Island greens make everyone uncomfortable — even the pros. Take the famed 17th at TPC Sawgrass, for example. Although the hole rarely requires more than a wedge, the hole can gives pros fits.
Last week’s Players Championship showed us as much. Fifty-eight balls found the water on 17 during the PGA Tour’s flagship event, and the scoring average was just a shade over par at 3.13 for the week. Pretty tough for a hole that plays less than 150 yards.
If island greens make you uncomfortable, don’t fret. The threat of a watery grave for your Pro V frightens even the best players in the game. But just because island greens are daunting doesn’t mean they’re impossible. All you need to do is employ the correct strategy.
1. Pick the right yardage
Zeroing in on the correct yardage is always important, but on island-green holes it’s absolutely paramount. Too long or too short and you’ll find yourself in the water. To give yourself the largest margin for error, get the yardage to the center of the green.
“Forget the front number and the back number,” Mogg says. “Split the difference and get a middle yardage and then find your best rhythm.”
2. Play your favorite shot
Everyone has a shot shape they’re comfortable with, and this is the time to pull it out. Hit the shot that you’re most comfortable with to give yourself the best chance to keep your ball dry.
“If you play a natural soft fade, then get up there and play a soft fade,” Mogg says. “Don’t try something you’re not good at.”
3. Tee it up
When you get ready to hit your shot, tee the ball up. Some people like to play the ball off the ground on par-3s, but this isn’t the time for that. A tee ensures you’ll have a perfect lie — so take advantage of it.
“Put it in the ground and give yourself a great lie,” Mogg says.
4. Focus on your target
It can be easy to get distracted by the water surrounding the green, but don’t fall for it. Focus on where you want the ball to end up instead of where you don’t want the ball to end up.
“The architect was paid a lot of money to distract you with fear,” Mogg says. “You want to hit this shot focused o what you want to do instead of what you’re afraid of. 125. Middle of the green. That’s what you’re gonna see the winner do on Sunday.”