How To Control Your Game From The Tee


With the west coast swing in the books, PGA National will play host to The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The Champion course at PGA National includes the infamous Bear Trap, holes 15-17, commonly regarded as the most daunting three hole stretch on the PGA Tour. These holes demand a well thought out game plan to successfully survive, and a game plan always starts with the tee shot. Here’s the basics to control your game from the tee.

Keys to Course Management

  1. How is the green set up? Where is the hole location? Where can I miss with my approach shot?
  2. Based on the green setup, where do I want my drive to be positioned on the fairway? What type of shot do I want to hit into the green, fade/draw, low/high?
  3. Where is the trouble off the tee, how do I want to shape my shot? What is the architect giving me?


Play the Hole Backwards

The 16th hole at PGA National demands your attention from the moment you step off of the 15th green. With water running along the right side of the hole, from tee to green, it is imperative that you position yourself for success using a well thought out game plan.

  1. With the green well bunkered on the right side along with a sharp fall off to the hazard, the obvious approach shot to this green is a fade that starts on the left side of the green and works its way back to the middle of the green just right of the flag. With this hole, Nicklaus gives you the opportunity to miss left, if you hit a pull you still have an opportunity to get up and down.  If your ball fades to the middle of the green you have a chance at a birdie or a two putt for par.  Conversely, a draw would not be the ideal shot approaching this green as you would have to start the ball over the water and run the risk of it not turning over.
  1. With that in mind, the ideal position in the fairway is left-center. This would give you the best angle into the green taking the majority of water out of play.
  1. As with the approach shot, you should try to hit a fade of the tee by starting the ball at the fairway bunker on the left. If the ball fades as planned you will be sitting in the middle of the fairway. If the ball goes straight you will either be dealing with a fairway bunker or rough, which beats the alternative of being in the hazard.

Quick Recap

1. Think Backwards Before You Tee Off – Where is the hole location and how can I position myself to get there minimizing risk?

2. Take What The Architect Gives You – Determine if the risk if worth the reward.  If it is not, play to the area that the course designer gives you.  Position yourself for success!

Follow these tips and you will find yourself in better position to score! Looking for more great instructional tips from our staff of PGA Professionals? Visit our instructional articles.

Kevin Bender

Kevin has been a Class “A” member of the PGA of America since 2009 and graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Business Administration. He has 7 years of experience at two of South Florida’s most prestigious clubs, Coral Ridge Country Club and the Broken Sound Club. Prior to Global Golf, Kevin was the Lead Professional at the Hasentree Club in Wake Forest, North Carolina for 4 seasons. Kevin has an extensive knowledge in club fitting along with a tremendous passion for golf course architecture and has traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe playing many of the world’s top courses.