Final Round Course Setup
As I was setting the tee markers on the 9th hole of the final round of the Dean & Deluca Invitational, one of the marshals working the hole asked me “does someone tell you where to place the tee markers during course setup or do you just put them anywhere?”
Course setup may be one of the biggest mysteries to most recreational golfers. Most believe that club representatives pick the hole locations and randomly place the tee markers.
My response to him was a bit more detailed than he anticipated. The 9th hole at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas is a 407 yard hole that requires accuracy off the tee and a precise shot into a green guarded by water in front.
One of the hole locations I traditionally use on this hole is a front left location just over the water. 5 paces on and 6 paces to the left. The players who managed to drive their ball in the fairway will have anywhere from 125 – 105 yards into the green. By placing a tight hole location, it will require the player to accurately hit their wedge and control the ball spin if they want to walk away with a birdie.
On Sunday the wind was forecasted to be out of the N/NE 10-15 mph. For the 9th hole this means it will play downwind. That actually plays into my strategy for setting up the hole as I want the player to have an approach shot not more than 125 yards. With the hole location so tight to the water’s edge, I felt that it wouldn’t be as fair of an approach shot if I required the player to play a mid-iron shot into the green.
To ensure the player hit his drive to this desired distance, I chose to move the tee markers to the front portion of the teeing ground reducing the distance on Sunday to 390 yards. Most amateur golfers think that the farther back you place the tees the harder you make the hole. That may be the case for them but for PGA TOUR professionals, it is all about position and accuracy.
As the final round concluded, the 9th hole yielded for the week:
The scoring average for the 4th round was 4.01 ranking it the 6th most difficult hole on the course.
As I finished setting the tee markers I reiterated to the marshal how setting the tees goes hand-in-hand with where the hole location is that day, what the weather conditions are and how you see the players playing that hole. Paying attention to how the players take on the hole and studying the course setup data will also prove to be valuable when setting the course next year.