Beat Dogleg Holes

Outsmarting the Bend: Strategies for Tackling Dogleg Golf Holes

As I strolled up to the tee box of the 7th hole at Eagle Ridge Golf Club, my eyes immediately zeroed in on the sharp dogleg to the right. This was no ordinary fairway – it twisted and turned like the tail of a particularly mischievous poodle. “Alright,” I thought to myself, “time to put my dogleg-busting skills to the test.”

Doglegs are some of the most thrilling, yet vexing, challenges in golf. These holes with a distinct bend in the fairway force us to weigh risk versus reward, plot our strategy, and execute with precision – all while trying to maintain our cool and avoid that dreaded double bogey. But fear not, fellow golfers. In this comprehensive guide, I’m going to share the secrets to taming even the toughest dogleg holes, drawing on insights from experts and my own hard-earned experience [1].

Understanding the Dogleg Dilemma

Before we dive into the strategies, let’s take a moment to appreciate the unique nature of dogleg holes. As the name suggests, these holes resemble the shape of a dog’s hind leg, with the fairway taking a sharp turn at some point. This deviation from the straight-and-narrow instantly raises a crucial question: what is the ideal line of attack from the tee?

Kiwi architect Scott Macpherson eloquently explains that doglegs “require all golfers to develop a strategy before hitting the ball—even those familiar with the course” [1]. Unlike a simple straight hole, where you can often get away with a one-size-fits-all approach, doglegs demand a more nuanced and intentional game plan. The golfer must carefully weigh factors like the angle of the bend, the location of hazards, and their own shot-shaping abilities to determine the optimal route.

Mastering Right-to-Left Doglegs

Let’s start with the classic right-to-left dogleg, a staple of many golf courses. On these holes, the fairway bends to the left, rewarding golfers who can shape their tee shots from right to left. The key is to hug the inside of the dogleg, cutting the corner and setting up a more manageable approach to the green.

One of my favorite examples of a right-to-left dogleg is the 13th hole at Augusta National, affectionately known as “Azalea” [1]. By playing your tee shot close to the trees on the left side of the fairway, you’ll enjoy a flatter lie and a shorter approach shot. Of course, the risk of this aggressive line is the ever-present danger of the pine straw and branches. But for those willing to take the plunge, the rewards can be great.

Navigating Left-to-Right Doglegs

Now, let’s turn our attention to the left-to-right dogleg, where the fairway bends to the right. On these holes, the optimal strategy often involves playing a fade or slice from the tee, hugging the right side of the fairway. This allows you to set up a more direct approach to the green, rather than having to navigate a sharper angle.

A prime example of a left-to-right dogleg is the 17th hole on the Old Course at St. Andrews [1]. By playing your tee shot close to the out-of-bounds wall on the right, you’ll be rewarded with a better angle and a shorter approach shot to the treacherous green. However, the risk of straying too far right and finding trouble is ever-present, so a delicate balance is required.

Leveraging Course Knowledge and Shot Shaping

Of course, no two dogleg holes are exactly alike, and the best approach will depend on your individual skills and the specific course conditions. That’s why developing a thorough understanding of the hole and a reliable repertoire of shot shapes is crucial.

Take the 7th hole at Eagle Ridge, for instance. The sharp right turn in the fairway demands a precise tee shot that can navigate the bunkers and trees guarding the inside of the bend. After carefully studying the hole, I decided to play a slight draw, aiming just left of the fairway bunker on the right. This allowed me to cut the corner and leave a manageable approach shot to the green.

As I stood over the ball, I took a deep breath, focused on my target, and let the club do the work. The ball sailed gracefully through the air, cutting the corner and landing just short of the green. A smooth chip and an assured putt later, I was walking off the green with a well-earned par. Mission accomplished!

Conclusion: Embrace the Dogleg Challenge

Doglegs may be one of golf’s greatest tests, but they are also one of its greatest joys. These holes force us to think critically, hone our shot-making skills, and revel in the thrill of executing a perfectly planned strategy. So the next time you find yourself faced with a sharp bend in the fairway, don’t view it as an obstacle – see it as an opportunity to outsmart the course and emerge victorious.

Happy golfing, and may your dogleg-busting exploits be the stuff of legend!

[1] Links Magazine. (n.d.). 18 of the Best Dogleg Holes. Retrieved from

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