Martin Rowley caddied on the European Tour for over twenty years and in that period caddied for Ian Woosnam, Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jiminez. He also became head of the European Tour Caddies Association and acted as secretary for a period too. In 2010 I felt that I was making a lot of course management errors and decided to give Martin a call. He gave me a lot of great advice and made me realise how thorough the best caddies on tour are. I thought I would share with you some of his advice.
Standing on the Tee
1. Always play the hole backwards in your mind from the green to the tee, find an ideal landing spot to leave the best possible position into the green.
2. From the tee always ask yourself the question ”how far do I need to hit this shot to leave my best distance into the green”
Playing into the Green
1. Every shot into the green requires three distances. Firstly to the front of the green, the flag and then the back of the green. If Bunkers are short or cutting into the green forget the front yardage and get the yardage over the bunkers and then to the flag. This is the same if there is a ridge before the flag, first yardage would be to the ridge and then the flag and finally the back.
2. Look at the green, if it is sloping from back to front and the greens are soft the ball is likely to land quickly and even spin back,in this occasion you may need to hit the ball past the flag. If the green is sloping from front to back and firm you may need to play short because the ball is likely to run.
It is important on shots outside of fifty yards to always ask yourself the question ”what distance is the shot playing?” It should always be worked out in yards or metres what the playing distance of the shot is after taking all the playing variables into account.
The distance of the shot from the hole to the ball is actually not very important in picking the right club it is actually only the starting point of an accurate distance assessment.
How many yards need to be added or subtracted for elevation from the starting point of the shot to the intended finishing area. Is the shot uphill or downhill? (do on all shots including tee shots)
How much effect will the wind have on the shot calculated in yards. A good caddy should be able to calculate how much the wind will effect the ball on a particular shot within a couple of yards. Wind direction should be the starting point and then wind speed, these two factors then need to be taken into consideration to work out the effect on the ball.
Depending on the lie the ball will travel differently in terms of distance, trajectory, carry, roll and spin.
4. Ground Conditions
This is very important when considering the landing area for your shot. The key is to work out the distance you want to carry the ball and then how it is going to react when it lands. If the ground is soft compared to very hard the landing spots for a particular shot could varey greatly.
5. Air Tempurature
Cold Morning air could result in ball travelling about a club shorter than it would be in the warm afternoon air. Based on a player hitting a seven iron one hundred and sixty yards in a temperature of ten degrees every ten degree increase in air temperature will make the ball travel three to four yards further.
You can see that a shot measured with a range finder or GPS device stating 150 yards is certainly useful but after taking all the playing conditions into account the shot could vary hugely in terms of the playing distance. Next time your on the course and the ball travels unexpectdly long or shot of what you were hoping for have a think through the variables I have mentioned and im confident you will find the answer.
Thanks for Reading!