Environmentally sensitive areas are defined on the course by hazard or out of bounds stakes with green tops. The general message that the green top indicates is, “Do not enter, play the area as indicated by the bottom color of the stake.” Course officials or an appropriate authority determine if it is detrimental to the environment to enter an area. In some cases the environmentally sensitive determination has been made by a regulatory agency. Golfers who disobey the markings and enter the area may be subject to a penalty or fine.
Penalties: Officially, there is not a penalty for entering an area defined as Environmentally Sensitive and retrieving your golf ball through the USGA rules for golf. There are penalties for playing your ball from a prohibited area or taking your stance in a prohibited area depending on the type of area (water hazard, ground under repair, out of bounds), and what format you are playing. In match play with water hazards, lateral hazards, and ground under repair the player loses the hole. In stroke play the player receives a penalty of two strokes.
If a player plays a ball in a prohibited area and it is out of bounds, the golfer is deemed to have played the wrong ball. In match play the golfer loses the hole. In stroke play the player incurs a two stroke penalty and proceeds as under rule 27/1. If a player tries to hit their ball that is in bounds while standing in the out of bounds prohibited area, the ruling is the same as for ground under repair, water hazard, and lateral hazard written above.
Scott Phelps | Head Superintendent | The Golf Club at Newcastle
For many golfers, one of the most terrifying shots that they face during their round is the bunker shot. With the proper technique and a few swing keys, you too can start looking like Phil Mickelson when hitting a bunker shot.
Before we discuss the set up and shot, one important piece of equipment needed to make your life easier in the bunker is a sand wedge. The sand wedge is specifically designed to dig through the sand (but not too deep) and move sand (and the ball) out and onto the green. The most common are 56-60 degree in loft and are set up with 12-14 degrees of bounce (bounce is the important part of the wedge that aids in getting the ball out of the bunker).
When setting up to hit most of your bunker shots, keep these tips in mind:
- Dig your feet into the sand. This will get the bottom of your swing below the ball and the level of the sand.
- Create an “open” stance by aiming left of the target. The idea when hitting a bunker shot is to swing the club more upright to aid in getting the ball up quickly. An open stance will help promote an upright swing.
- Your weight should be 55% on your forward foot.
- Your ball position should be just inside your left heel.
When hitting the shot, here is the secret: Don’t be afraid to take some sand! Remember, you will not be hitting the “ball” out of the bunker, you will be hitting the sand around the ball which will move the ball out of the bunker. Picture a dollar bill resting directly under the ball in the sand. Your goal when hitting a bunker shot is to blast the dollar bill out from under the ball.
The last thing to remember is to always make a full follow through. Because you are hitting a fair amount of sand, it’s ok to swing aggressively and finish just like you would for a normal full shot.
Keeping these thoughts in mind and with a little practice, bunker shots will be the strength of your game! To check out video instruction on how to hit a greenside bunker shot, check out this video from Chris Lungo.
Mark Rashell, PGA | Director of Golf | The Golf Club at Newcastle
Hole number 13 at Hawks Prairie's Woodlands course reminds you about all the water present on the back nine. This par 5 is our signature hole for the Woodlands course, and features ponds cascading all the way down the right side, from tee to green. The ponds are quite beautiful, but your opinion of them might change if your ball ends up in one.
Big hitters can reach the green in two, and can even cut some yardage off by favoring the right side of the fairway. However, this is a very risky option, as the ball may even get caught up in the fairway bunker along the right side, before it gets to the water.
Favor the left side of the fairway and if you really catch it, you’ll still have an opportunity to reach the green in two. If you layup, play a club you are comfortable with and give yourself a controlled yardage distance into the green.
Your approach shot will have to dodge the water on the right, and grass bunkers on the left. The green fans out into three points and can be a tricky one to stop a long shot onto the putting surface. Holding this green with a 2nd shot will be pretty tough, and you may have a long putt depending on where the pin is positioned. For the best shot at par, a wedge into this green will give you the best opportunity to stick it close.
Kevin Myers | General Manager | Hawks Prairie
How high you tee it up depends on whether you are a “digger” or a “sweeper.”
A “digger” has a steep angle of approach into the ball and usually takes divots. Always remember you want your divot to be in front (on the target side) of the ball to assure you have hit the ball first.
A “sweeper” has a shallow angle of approach into the ball and may not take divots (or very shallow divots).
If you are a “digger,” you will tee the ball up lower so you catch the ball in the middle of the clubface. With irons, I would tee up the ball just slightly. With woods, tee the ball up so that ¼ of the ball is above the club head.
If you are a “sweeper,” you will tee the ball up higher to make it easier to hit the center of the club face. With irons, tee the ball up ¼” to ½” inch above the ground. With woods, tee the ball up so that ½ of the ball is above the club head.
Caleb Kraus, PGA | General Manager | Harbour Pointe Golf Club
If you have trouble controlling your speed, it can be hard to shoot a good score, even if your putts are on line! I’ll show you a drill that you can practice to help get a much better feel for your speed and distance control on the putting green.
For the ladder drill, you will need at least 8 tees. Set these tees up in 3 boxes about 3 feet long each. After you’ve set up the tees, step back about 30 feet. Then, try to hit 3 golf balls into each box. Start with the first box. Once you hit all 3 balls, retrieve them and move onto the 2nd box, and 3rd box.
It sometimes helps you track your progress if you are able to keep score. If you are going for the first box, give yourself a point each time a putt stops inside the box. For example, after you have hit 3 putts, and 2 of them come to rest inside the first box, give yourself 2 points. Go retrieve the balls, and move on to the second box. The idea is to hopefully acquire 9 total points, meaning you’ve hit every putt with the correct speed.
This drill is extremely easy to set up, and can drastically help your putts out on the course. If you develop better speed control, your second putts will become easier to make, and your scores on the course will drop. Practice this a few times during your practice sessions, and you’re on your way to becoming a better putter. To see this drill in action, check out this video
Kevin Myers, PGA | General Manager | The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie
If you’re golf game resembles our military… “Left, Right, Left, Right, Left, Right” … then this tip will help you hit more shots down the middle. If I could offer one tip to a golfer on their swing it would be this: to make sure their hips turn through their swing and face their target.
One of the things I focus on the most during a lesson is where my student finishes their golf swing, particularly the lower body. When a right-handed student doesn’t quite get the hips all the way towards the target, this is an example of military golf. The ball tends to follow the direction of the body and doesn’t end up on target. When the lower body doesn’t face the target, it puts way too much pressure on the upper body to decide where the club is released.
If our hips don’t make it all the way through to the target, the club can be released early, causing shots to fan out to the right. After a few swings like this, the upper body compensates and gets ahead of itself, coming over the top of the ball causing shots to pull to the left of the target.
If you can finish your swing in what I call a perfect finish position with your hips facing the target, you’ll not only hit more fairways, but you’ll look like a golfer too. To see this tip in action, check out this video.
Ready to work on your swing? Check out Oki Golf’s Spring Training program to get your game in shape for the summer.
Steven Borror | Head Golf Professional | Indian Summer Golf and Country Club
It is that time of year at Oki Golf. Overnight temperatures are below freezing and frost is inevitable. The winter months are a great time to visit the golf course with less-crowded courses, but it also means frost delays are here.
We have adjusted our start times to reduce any frost delay during the winter months. Even so, we inevitably will have cold enough weather to have frost stick around long enough to delay the start of play. We will do our best to get the course ready during the cold weather to reduce any kind of delay that may occur.
During the times of cold winter weather, we will need to delay traffic on the turf until frost is melted. We want to avoid frost damage, because recovery is very slow this time of year. Damage from a cart or a walker can take more than a week to recover. The damage will start out purple in color and turn to a straw brown as the leaves begin to dry.
I like to use the analogy of a piece of glass shattering when I explain frost damage. When the leaf blade of the plant is frozen and becomes crushed by a tire or a shoe, it is basically like a piece of glass shattering into many pieces. Microscopically, when the leaf blade sustains the damage, the cells shatter into pieces. The pieces move through the plant, destroying cells in its path. Once the plant begins to thaw, the plant’s fluids leak out and the leaf blade looks water-soaked and purple. The leaf blade is now dead and will turn brown. Rarely does this damage affect the crown of the plant so the plant itself is not dead. The problem is that growth is slowed during cold weather, which makes for a slow and painstaking recovery.
With that being said, we ask that walkers and cart traffic avoid turf while it is frozen to protect the grass. If there are any questions about frost and how we make the decision to delay golf please contact the golf shop professionals at any Oki Golf Course.
Justin C. Ruiz | CGCS | Indian Summer Golf & Country Club
Believe it or not, playing golf year round in the Pacific Northwest can really be enjoyable. Many golfers will shy away during inclement weather which means you can almost have the course to yourselves and tee times are easier to get.
We saw in my earlier post that having the proper gear is critical to the enjoyment of playing in inclement weather. Now, let’s take a look at some additional tips that will help your play in foul weather.
Rain - When playing in the rain and wearing rain gear, it is common for us to lose full range of motion. Make sure to use more club when approaching greens. Remember that when the greens are soft the ball will stop faster than in summer conditions.
Wind - “When it’s Breezy Swing Easy.” Many of us feel the wind in our face and swing harder in an effort get more distance out of our shot. When we swing harder, it causes the ball to have more spin off the clubface. Spin does not do well in the wind. Take more club and swing easy. A shot hit in the center of the club face in windy conditions will travel much farther and straighter than off-center hits. I often use two to three more clubs in windy conditions.
Caleb Kraus, PGA | General Manager | Harbour Pointe Golf Club
Believe it or not, playing golf year round in the Pacific Northwest can really be enjoyable. Many golfers will shy away during inclement weather, which means you can almost have the course to yourselves and tee times are easier to get.
Dress the Part - Before I can assist you in playing in foul weather we have to get you dressed for it.
Having the proper gear is critical to the enjoyment of playing in inclement weather. Here are some musts-haves in order to beat the elements:
- Lightweight waterproof rain gear: Everyone who plays in the foul weather should have high quality rain gear. Don’t buy the least expensive one…you get what you pay for. Expect to pay about $150-$250 for a jacket and $120-$200 for pants. There are many great manufacturers that make rain gear that is fully waterproof, but some of them can make your swing feel awkward. I recommend a lightweight rain jacket and rain pants that have a waterproof warranty. I prefer half zip jackets because they tend not to poof out at the bottom where my hand are while I am swinging. I like the lightweight jacket and pants so I can use them in the spring when it is warmer without being uncomfortable. If I need warmth, I use layering. Layering is important so you are able to adjust your warmth for varying temperatures throughout the day. You can wash your rain gear, but don’t put it in the dryer; this seems to take away some of the water wicking in the fabric.
- Rain Gloves: Perhaps one of the best golf inventions ever are rain gloves. The wetter your hands and grips get, the better rain gloves grip to your club. I don’t waste my energy or time trying to keep my grips dry, I put on the rain gloves and hit away. Watch my video on rain gloves here
- Waterproof shoes: Buy a golf shoe that has at least a two year waterproof warranty. I like getting black shoes to wear during the winter so the mud and dirt doesn’t show up so much. Make sure to give them a good cleaning when you are done and keep them in a dry place between rounds.
- Waterproof Rain Hat/Beanie: These are great for keeping your head dry, which will help you stay warm. When it’s not raining wear the beanie for warmth.
Caleb Kraus, PGA | General Manager | Harbour Pointe Golf Club
Love it or loath it, #13 evokes an opinion. Nicknamed "Sasquatch", the hole comprises an environmentally protected area and significant elevation change, which make this hole a sometimes maddening challenge.
The tee shot is only the start. It doesn't pose much danger, but a poorly chosen line can make your approach shot more difficult.
The best drives will come to rest on the left side of the fairway, otherwise expect a blind approach into the green. In addition to the blind shot, the slight dogleg and downhill approach can prove to be disorienting. Make sure you choose a good line.
The approach shot is also complicated by an elevated and well bunkered green complex with a tight waste area on the left side. Like Sasquatch himself, par can be quite elusive on #13.
Todd Mielke | Head Golf Professional | The Golf Club at Redmond Ridge