Plan ahead for your visit to Chestfield and make the most of your round with our golf course overview.
Tip from the Pro
The first thing to mention about the first is how many of you get caught up in the rough on the right. The problem here is that we all know it's a dogleg and so we all think we should be cutting the corner. From the white blocks it is exactly 212 yards to the tree on the corner of the dogleg (the one we all get snookered by!). In the summer that isn't a big problem for most as the ball will run out past it but in the winter that demands that I almost always hit a driver on the first tee as I will only carry it 220ish with a good one. So even I cannot afford to go right there as I won't get out of the trees.
So, all of us should be aiming further left off the tee to ensure we stay on the fairway and so that we are not blocked out by the same tree. When you actually walk down the hole you realise it's not that big a dogleg anyway so a straight drive well left of the right hand trees is not a bad play at all. Once in the fairway the hole is very obvious and we just need to try to hit straight shots to the green. Again it is very evident how many of us come up short though!
Tip from the Pro
The second is a different animal at the best of times! In the summer off the back tee it is arguably the hardest hole on the course and creates problems mainly because you can't see where your ball has landed most of the time. It demands you hit a very straight drive as there are problems left and right and then you still have a long way to go. So the first thing to say is that you need to respect the hole - this is one to play conservatively unless you are a big hitter and very confident with your driver.
The perfect shot, whether it is from the back tee or the front in the winter, is a cut off the left hand side. Why? Well my argument would be that the safe side is left. At all costs I don't want to go right! So if you naturally hit a left to right shape, give yourself plenty of room and let it happen always erring on the side of starting too far left. Someone who draws the ball or tries to runs the risk of either blocking the shot (not turning it right to left) or of over doing it and hooking it, which would actually be preferable. But whatever you do make sure you aim far enough left!!
Once you've safely negotiated the drive you then have another problem: I watch countless players then aim too far right with their second and then end up in the rough on the right which causes them all sorts of problems. Again this is similar to the first: most of us overestimate how far we can hit the ball and how much of a dogleg it is. Aim further left! Unless you are a big hitter you can aim at or even left of the tree in the fairway. It is a long way up to the trouble! Then you have a better look at the green which will help your approach. From there the same rule as on the tee applies - don't go right!! Be aware of your lie on the fairway - if the ball is below your feet it will probably go further right than you think so, again, give yourself room.
Tip from the Pro
This is generally thought of as one of our hardest holes and with good reason. The tee shot often ends up down the bottom in rough and then invariably we under-club into a green which is more above you than you think.
So firstly, let's give this hole some respect - a nett par here is a good score. Next time you stand on the tee I want you to notice where the tee boxes aim you. All of them, and especially the ladies, aim you down the right of the fairway. So, unless you are a drawer of the ball this is not a great place to aim. Now, if you are a short hitter it is true to say that you don't want to hit it up the left side as you will be blocked out by the bushes on the corner, but the truth is 90+ percent of you will hit a fade and it is definitely better to be in the fairway for your second. So everyone should be taking a line that is left of the black and white post so that we can hold the fairway. Don't be directed by the tee blocks - make sure you are in control of where you are aiming!!
As I said, the second shot is deceptively long. Last week I talked about how conditions affect how far we hit the ball. Well, at the 3rd, even in warm conditions, it's an extra club so what does that make it now? Club up and keep your aim to the left side of the green. Remember we are respecting this hole - going flag hunting here may cost you! So, aim further left off the tee and then club up for your second - sound familiar?
Tip from the Pro
For such a short hole the 4th does cause lots of people problems. How many of you regularly go right here? An interesting example of this is one of the juniors who I regularly play the first 4 holes with on a Saturday. On the 4th he goes right everytime but if we play the 16th he often goes left! Clearly this is not technical as he should go the same way with all shots so something is causing him to change what he is doing.
The obvious problem with the 4th is it is uphill and this does make a lot of us change what we normally do. We tend to try to hit the ball up the hill rather than just swinging normally. This causes us to lean back a bit and generally come out of the shot, leaving the club face open. So, what's the answer? If you are someone who finds they go right at the 4th quite often (and that's lots of you!!) try to stand on the tee and imagine you have a downhill shot in front of you. Picture a shot or hole that you have played in the past and try to recreate how you would feel standing over that shot. Now swing imagining you are hitting to a green below you.
You should find that you stay down a lot easier and hit the ball straighter. Ironically it also means that as you release the club better you should also fly the ball higher than you think so you have no need to try to hit it up the slope. This is the same whether it is a 9-iron for you or a hybrid. Obviously the latter is slightly more difficult but that's why you're not playing off scratch! You still need to trust the club and hit it straight first.
Tip from the Pro
I need to do two reviews for the 5th because of our 'permanent' temporary in the winter. This green means we need to stay right on the fairway which is not easy due to the sloping fairway. Although it is around 30 yards shorter, the hole pretty much plays the same as in the summer distance-wise and with such a small green it is definitely not easy!! My one main tip regarding the winter green is that I watch lots of players getting in trouble by hitting the ball right of the green and leaving themselves almost no shot into a slopey, and quite hard green. Ideally, if you can't reach in two you want to leave the ball as close to the trees on the left as you can so you can hit straight along the green for your third. I assure you that by doing that you will score consistently better than bailing out right!
The summer hole is one of the best on the course. Once you have found the fairway, which again is not easy as it slopes left, you have the prettiest second shot on the course into a lovely green tucked into the trees. Now I'm going to throw you - don't go long!! After telling you all to club up on previous holes you now have to be careful. All the trouble is long, left and right of the green here so it is not a bad play to be deliberately short and leave yourself a chip up the green. It is still not the easiest as the green has a step in it and a lovely false front but most of you will score better by playing the hole with this in mind. If you can run it up the green with your second, or pitch it all the way then great but it has to be a good shot. My aim, and I'm pretty straight generally, is always to find the middle of the green and to definitely be short of the back flag. A great hole but one to respect again.
Tip from the Pro
Very underrated. This is a tough hole for most because of three reasons. Firstly, the drive is uphill and the fairway slopes away from the dogleg. Secondly, you have an uphill second to a pin that seems to be stuck in the middle of nowhere. Lastly, the green is subtle with lots of small slopes and undulations. My main observation on the 6th is that, once again, everyone comes up short with their clubbing. I have had to learn to add a club here for all full shots into the green and to take careful notice of the wind direction.
An example: if you hit your 7-iron 125 yards through the air and you have 150 yards left into the 6th green into a light breeze (in the summer), this is how I'd work it out: Flat that probably means you need a 5-iron so we'll add one and make it a 4 iron. Now we have a small breeze as well so it's playing at least one more club on top. So, a hybrid or 5-wood? Sounds a lot but try it - bet it gets you there and no more. For me 150 yards means a 5-iron in that example so what should you be using?
Tip from the Pro
I don't think I'm wrong in saying this is the hole that plays statistically the most easy in the winter compared to itself in the summer. The fairway that slopes away from us, holds instead of allowing the ball to bound through into trouble and the slopey green (??!!) is not nearly as scary as in the summer when some pin positions border on completely unfair. So what can we learn about how to play the hole?
Firstly the tee shot; if you are a reasonably big hitter and haven't got a pronounced draw then you will feel comfortable about hitting over the corner of the trees. The difference at the moment is that you can afford to hit so much more club than in the summer. Off the back tee in calm conditions in the summer I would hit a 3-iron or maybe a hybrid with a fade. From the front tee, where the mat currently is, in the winter I would use a 3-wood almost every time as the ball will basically stop dead. Exactly the same is true of the shorter hitters - club up! In the winter this hole becomes a 3-shotter for many of you and this actually makes it easier and a better way to play the hole. Don't bite off too much on the tee shot - hit a straight ball at the black and white post and then lay up just short! Again the ball will stop quickly and the third then becomes far easier than in the summer.
Now the real tip for the 7th hole - In summer conditions when you have hit a good drive and can easily reach the green - DON'T bail out right! It is NOT the safe shot as so many think it is. If you get pin high or further you now have no shot at all and will always drop at least one shot. No matter what the pin position - go for it! I guarantee if you do then over a reasonable period of time you will save shots on this hole. Clearly if you hit a bad shot and go right that is one of those things and you may have to take your medicine but don't aim there as so many do.
IF you are very scared of bunkers or are unsure about reaching easily with a mid iron or shorter then there are two possibilities - firstly, lay up short in the fairway and chip and run onto the green, and secondly, if you're good enough, aim left of the bunkers and leave yourself a chip up the green from below the hole, but don't block yourself out behind a tree. The second is really for the people who can get there and this is why we should go for the pin. Short and left is the easiest chip by a long way. Long and anywhere right is all but impossible. I have learned the hard way here and always go for the flag making sure that I err on a draw swing. The last thing I want is to lose it right.
Tip from the Pro
Our favourite par 4 - Sorry, I meant par 3!! That may be a bit of an in-joke but actually there is something in it. How would you view the hole if it was suddenly called a par 4? Suddenly it's a great birdie chance and not nearly as scary! Your attitude would change and I bet, again over a reasonable period, most would score lower on the hole! It even happens on tour - most of the long par 4s play to an average of about 4.5 and the par 5s of possibly up to 100 yards longer play to the same average!! So we can clearly see how mental this is and how it affects us.
How would you view the hole in summer conditions at 235 yards if it was a par 4? Would you not feel much happier knocking something down the hole short of the green and chipping in for a possible birdie but a safe par? I think you would. Instead as a par 3 we all feel under pressure to hit the ball as far as we can even though that is precisely the shot that can get us in the most trouble! Even the low handicappers should think about this. We should definitely go for the green but if I knew it was a par 4 I would be wanting to give myself the easiest opportunity to make 3. I would not want to go long or big right! So an easy swing with enough club at the front left would most often be the best play. Higher handicappers and shorter hitters should again hit an easy shot for the middle left of the fairway short of the green and then chip to the flag.
So next time you're at the 8th think of it as a par 4 and what you might do if it was. DO NOT let your ego get involved and make you hit a risky shot at the green, which is probably a low percentage shot for you anyway, with trouble everywhere!!
Tip from the Pro
Finally we have a little relief and the 9th presents an opportunity. Having said that a lot of you will not think so because of the size of the green. This isn't a problem for everyone who can drive the ball to within 40 yards of the green but if you're hitting a 7 or 8-iron in I can understand why it starts to be a worry.
So let's examine our options - how many of you who tend to be short hitters fancy the chip over the front bunker or up the steep slope in front of the green, which I often leave short? How about over the bunker on the right onto a downslope (assuming you hit a lovely lob shot over the bunker!) or from behind the green from a heavy lie down onto a small green, if you can get over the ridge at the back?
However, from the left of the green we find a different story. No obstacles, usually to a flag on the other side of the green (clearly the rare left hand side flag does make a difference) makes this the easiest approach. So much so that I know quite a few big hitters who do aim left of the green with their drives. Clearly this hole should be a simple drive followed by a wedge directly for the flag but next time you play it, if you are doubtful at all, then think about playing to the left side deliberately to leave a simple chip. It might produce more pars than you think.
Tip from the Pro
A nice hole but with more problems than you think. As someone who can drive the green in the right conditions I have a rule on this hole - I never go for it unless the wind is behind and off the right. Sounds obvious enough but why? Well the real trouble is all down the right. The miss left has to be big to reach trouble but not on the right so I want things in my favour. I can carry the right hand tree but only just the left so with the wind slightly off the right it means I can fire down the right half with reasonable impunity - there's lots of room down there. But at all other times I lay up and here is where the tips start. Remember, I can carry the right hand tree easily - because it's closer!
So how many of you hit the ball too close to the right hand tree for an easy shot to the green? Particularly in summer we need to at least try to be left half here. This is also important as the green slopes left so a shot from behind the right hand tree often runs across the green and sometimes into the bunker. From the left half you have more chance of holding the green. So remember the key here, winter or summer, is to try to be down the left half of the fairway even if you are quite short. That way you will also find the bunker less often.
Tip from the Pro
This is clearly a great opportunity for almost all of us. Nowadays, a hole of this length on tour would be considered a long 'ish' par 4! Now, of course, that's ok for those players who regularly hit 300 yard drives and I suppose you think it is of no relevance to us? Well I don't think that's true. It is merely a longer hole for us but there's a clue in the previous par 4 statement. Remember what we said about the 8th? If it was a par 4 we'd view it very differently. Well what if the 11th was a par 4? What is the one thing we'd now be thinking as we stood on the tee?
Firstly, we'd want to hit a long drive but mostly we must give ourselves a chance to hit the green. We won't do that from behind a tree! I actually think the 11th is a really good hole that offers an opportunity to low handicappers but that very fact puts them under pressure - we MUST make a 4 at worst and that often creates pressure and problems. Think about it - in the right conditions we don't always need to hit driver here, sometimes 3-wood is better because it eliminates the chance of running into the trees. But let's be honest - most of us will think 'hit driver and if we hit a good one great, if not then it's a par 5'.
Nothing wrong with that most of the time but sometimes we can give ourselves a better chance. For shorter hitters the hole plays itself - miss the bunkers firstly then lay-up. The important shot is the third and if you can you want to leave yourself on the left side of the fairway for this shot - most of you will find it easier if you don't have to come in over the right hand bunker.
Tip from the Pro
A really good par 3. Any hole with a green that slopes off on all sides is a good hole that will cause difficulties. Most notably there is very little that I can tell you by way of a tip on the 12th - you simply need to hit a good shot. There is no real bail out area as short, long, left and right are all bad! How this is stroke index 18.......(how many times have I had that conversation??).
I suppose there is one tip but it is a general one: You are more likely to hit a good shot if you feel comfortable over the club. Make sure you have enough club in your hand. Don't be trying to hit something too hard here as it will lead to an increased chance of a big wide - which is a disaster. Keep it smooth with a bigger club and you'll hit more greens in general and that will really help here. A par here is always good and for higher handicappers a four. Ignore the index, treat the 12th with respect.
Tip from the Pro
I am going to get straight onto the 'secret' about the 13th. I doubt many of you have realised or noticed just how extreme this fact about the 13th is so I am going to demonstrate it now. Next time you are near the 13th green I want you to turn round and look at the tees. Don't just look at the front tee, look at the new top 'white' tee. Guess what? You can see the flat playing area - you're looking down on it! But that tee is elevated maybe 20 feet above the ladies tee and the front of the fairway so we must then be talking about a rise of some 25 feet up the length of the hole. I say most of you won't have realised this only because it took me several years to.
From the new back tee the hole measures 410 yards but has the elevated tee. However, it isn't as elevated as you think because of the rise that I have mentioned. So you get very little advantage off the tee but you do now have an uphill shot that everyone, again, comes up short on. So the tip is simple - more club, always, but that is only to get you to the green. You don't actually want to go long here because of the green which slopes back-to-front. Many of you, who struggle to get here in two, would be wise to deliberately lay up as with the 7th and then leave yourself a short pitch.
Just remember to take the slope into consideration. I said I liked this hole and I certainly do - out of bounds right keeps us thinking and the big tree on the left, which should be avoidable, often seems to get in the way! Then you have a fair but difficult approach with a slopey green. A very good, testing hole.
Tip from the Pro
The 14th is just hard! Uphill all the way, 401 yards off the back but playing more like 430-440 yards. Then a long shot into a very sloping green guarded by bunkers front left and right so the entrance is tiny. If you go long you're dead and left and right aren't much better. Oh, and that's as long as you've missed the tree from the back tee and hit a great drive.
This is actually a hole where the index really is vital. When I play captain/pro I always think that I have a big disadvantage here - 4 is very good, 5 common. Birdies are very rare! So you guys with a shot, and that's pretty much everyone, should use it here! Remember, all the trouble is past the front of the green so at this hole more than any other it is wise to lay up short and hit a small pitch onto the green. Chances are you will be far more accurate with a short shot so the small entrance shouldn't be a problem.
Low handicappers who can hit the green comfortably should clearly try to but be careful with your club choice. With reference to 'that tee shot' from the back tee - if the wind is off the left it really does make it difficult for right-handed faders of the ball but you simply cannot suddenly change what you normally do just like that. You have to play safe here and find the right hand side of the fairway or even the light rough. This actually makes your second easier as you can fade it across the fairway so don't worry about it.
DON'T make the mistake of trying to hit the ball harder here because of the difficulty of the hole. That will only lead to more side spin and a bigger fade/slice. It really won't help - it's a three-shotter anyway so don't try to make up the distance here. Play a safe tee shot and try to make 5. That will do almost all of the time here!
Tip from the Pro
380 yards straight downhill shouldn't cause too many problems - but it does, doesn't it?! In the case of the 15th the main problem is not course management or miss-clubbing, it is simply the knowledge of how to play the dreaded downhill lie. I have seen more heavy and thin shots on this hole than on any other on our course in all the matches I have played.
So a quick run through of the downhill lie - firstly you need to move the ball back in your stance. Not all the way back to your back foot but certainly a few inches back from where you normally would have it. This is because the natural reaction to a downhill lie is to not move your weight forward during the shot because of the hill and we tend therefore to ground the club further back than we think. We also need to lean down the slope to try and make ourselves perpendicular to it. That way we make sure the bottom of our swing is where the ball is. If we lean back slightly to counteract the slope we effectively make the bottom of our swing a long way behind the ball and again we will hit it fat. Just make sure that you keep your weight forward during the swing and effectively hit the ball 'down' the slope.
So move the ball back and lean onto your front foot - easy. Well, no - it's still not an easy shot and there are other things to remember: you will hit the ball lower and further than you think so watch your clubbing and you will tend to cut the ball as well but remember that's not a definite (I sometimes turn this shot over as my hands try to compensate). Lastly, we all know the 15th green is an easy one to have your ball run off on the left. DON'T make the mistake of aiming too far right to guard against this. Because the green runs from right to left it is much better to miss left than right. Go for the flag and take your chances!
Tip from the Pro
Underestimated! It may play short with the winter mat out and the soft conditions but this is not an easy par 3 in summer play from the normal tees. The bunkers always look threatening and there is something about the lie of the land, with the hole sloping right-to-left in front of you, which seems to upset many of us. I've seen huge blocks towards the pond and big hooks over onto the 17th. So it is not dissimilar to the 4th - we need to imagine we're somewhere else!
Like the 12th, have enough club so that you can swing within yourself and try to hit a shot as if you were on a flat hole. As on the 12th we really do need to hit the green - there isn't really a bale out other than short but then the chip isn't easy as the green slopes so much. If you can be accurate from the tee then a shot left of the flag is best as anything above the hole, particularly in the summer, will be very tricky. As you can see from my tips, although three of them aren't that long our par 3s are a tough part of our course and help to make Chestfield a much better test than the scorecard suggests.
Tip from the Pro
Really good hole that throws problems at us straight away. Shorter hitters have something of an advantage here as their normal length off the tee takes out the trouble on the right. A drive up the right hand side leaves you a chance to hit a hybrid or wood at the green with plenty of room left to bail out in. However, that side is not easy to chip from as you are usually landing somewhere on a downslope. In fact the green is probably the best feature of the 17th - several levels which make putting and chipping difficult from almost any angle make for a really good test.
So short hitters are forced into playing the hole the way they should - lay up short of the pond and then either left or short of the green - simple. It's the longer hitters that have to be more careful here: Jack Nicklaus says you should never try to draw or fade the ball away from trouble - always go the other side and fade or draw it away from that side. I personally agree with that and it is relevant here. The shot is a fade (or draw for a left hander) off the left hand trees. In the summer this is also good as the ball is then shaping up the second half of the hole which is left-to-right. Of course with a left hand wind this is far more difficult and then the wind will do the fading of the ball for you. As they say play 'with' the wind - hot a straight shot up the left side and let the wind move the ball. There is an argument for laying up just short of the pond. That still leaves you only just over 150 yards and I have to say that would be a good option if you need par for a win.
Whatever you decide to do the second has the same problem - we do not want to lose the ball right so it is a good shot to aim left edge and hit a fade. This will also help with almost all the pin positions except one - the back left pin, which I like to try to draw the ball into. So, my 'tip' for this hole is to respect it. A great drive when the pin is in an easy position makes this hole relatively simple but it has teeth and lots of them. Be careful!
Tip from the Pro
Complete opposite to the 17th in a few ways: Firstly, it's right-to-left and secondly, it's the short hitters who have to worry about the trouble. The ditch on the left that comes out towards the fairway is definitely in play and the bunker is there to get any balls running up the fairway. This pushes many out to the right and into the trees and the rough there can be difficult. So, I think the important thing here is to pick a target and try to hit it. There is quite a large area between the ditch and the bunker and over to the rough on the right. This is the best place to hit your tee shot as it gives you the biggest margin of error.
From there it is reachable for almost everyone so DON'T try to hit the ball too far here - that is counterproductive. Once again the second shot is not easy so we need to think about what we are doing. The bunkering is very good for a short par 4 and the out of bounds long is certainly something we need to be careful about especially in the summer. So, unless you are hitting a shortish iron that you are confident of finding the green with the logical play is just short. If you can chase something longer on then great but the bunkers will get you very often.
The 18th then is not a tricky hole and does offer us a genuine birdie opportunity. The key is to not go for too much - you don't need to. A good drive, not a long one, gives all of us the chance to make a good score here. The biggest mistakes at the 18th will be made off the tee.