The 2012 PGA Tour is underway and a favorite stop for the players continues to be the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
This event, hosted at TPC Scottsdale, has a long history that dates back to the inception of the PGA Tour. With a large payout that boasts just over 1 million, a victory here will go a long way in solidifying a great year for the eventual winner.
So what makes this tournament stop a favorite for the very best in the world? Is it the large galleries hungry for master shot making or teeing it up in front of 25,000 plus crazy fans on No. 16, the “loudest hole in golf?” Regardless of the answer, these players must navigate an always challenging 7216 yard, par 71 test of golf that is the TPC Scottsdale.
So what is the recipe for success? I have broken down some key holes that will test the players, as well as given you a “how to” tutorial on some of the challenging shots that lay ahead.
Hole #5, 453 yard par 4
This hole is one of the toughest driving tests on the entire golf course. At 453 yards, it is not only long but narrow. The landing area is well guarded with two bunkers on the right side of the fairway as well as large moguls and deep rough on the left hand side. This hole is rarely shown on television, but a par here will go a long way in getting the round off to a good start.
How to hit it long and straight with your driver: Play the ball forward, create a bit of spine tilt away from the target, make sure to complete your shoulder turn during your backswing and finish balanced.
Hole #7, 215 yard par 3
This long par 3 will require a mid to long iron. The green is well guarded left and right with three deep bunkers. Any miscue off the tee will create a challenging up and down opportunity for par. A par here is good as a birdie is bonus.
How to get it close from a greenside bunker: Open the face of your sand wedge slightly, play the ball two inches forward of center, make a long lazy swing and strike the sand inches behind the ball.
Hole #11, 469 yard par 4
This drive is the toughest on the course, in my opinion. Not only do the players have to hit it long but accuracy is at a premium as there is water left and out of bounds right. This green will be very challenging to hit in regulation if a ball sales into the rough. The players will be happy to take a par here and move to the next hole.
Hole #15, 552 yard par 5
This second par 5 in three holes presents an excellent chance for birdie. Most of the players will be hitting a long iron or hybrid into the green for their second shot. This fairway has been redesigned during the offseason to create a series of moguls in the landing area off the tee. If a player does decide to reach this hole in two shots, they will have to negotiate an island green surrounded by water.
How to hit a hybrid: Play the ball slightly forward of center, make a full shoulder turn during your back swing, try to take a small divot at the ball, finish balanced.
Hole #16, 162 yard par 3 — “The Loudest Hole in Golf”
This hole is hardly recognizable during the summer months after the stands have been dismantled, but during the tournament, this is one of the most amazing places in all of sports. The players will be faced with a short iron to a smallish green. No problem right? Well with 25,000 people watching every move, even the pros demonstrate they are human at times. A rock solid pre-shot routine is in order to establish a positive mindset. A bad shot here will certainly end in many boos from the gallery.
Develop a pre-shot routine: A pre-shot routine will get you focused on hitting the best shot possible. Start behind your ball, pick out an intermediate target 3 feet in front of your ball, grip the club, walk into your shot, look at the target, then your intermediate target, breathe and hit.
Hole #18, 438 yard par 4
The drive on 18 demands accuracy. With water left and bunkers right, the players will only have around 60 yards to land the ball. A good drive will set up a short iron to an elevated green. A birdie is not out of the question, but a bogey or worse isn’t out or the realm of possibility. Fred Couples was leading the first ever Phoenix open at TPC only to pull his tee shot left into the lake. He went on to lose the tournament to Sandy Lyle in a playoff.
How to have success out of a fairway bunker: Grip down on your club, take one more club, play the ball slightly back of center and attempt to strike the ball before the sand.