Breaking 80: How To Tame Pebble Beach
May 17, 2010
Take out the flagstick
Here I'm hitting the famous approach to the final green. With nothing but sand and Pacific Ocean to the left, I'd be silly to try to steer my shot to that flag, but that's what a lot of players do.This reminds me of when Manuel de la Torre, the longtime pro at Milwaukee Country Club, was interviewed for his job. He said he could improve the members' handicaps by two strokes instantly. How? Simply by removing the flagstick from each green. His reasoning was, if you pulled the flag, players would stop trying to hit the perfect shot -- tight to the hole -- and instead focus on hitting the green. So next time you catch yourself flag-hunting, take the flagstick out of your mental picture.
The greens at pebble Beach can be hard to read -- even the subtle ones, such as the sixth (left) -- so I tell visitors to start reading from 30 yards out. Once you're on the green, determine where the low side of the putt is, and walk to this side -- midway between your ball and the hole. This will give you the best view of the entire putt and will magnify any break. Walk a few more paces toward the hole and observe the area around the cup. Determine where you want the ball to enter the hole, keeping in mind the putt will break most at the end, when it's rolling the slowest. The more information you have to validate your read, the better your chances of holing it.