The Links of the Hill Country

In the September issue of Golf Digest, Nick Price has an article about playing from tight lies. It’s a very timely reminder for me. We’re in the midst of a record setting drought. Our fairways are hard and fast, and the lies are tight. Wind typical of classic links golf is common around here, but now we have the turf to match.

Play presents an interesting challenge. Conditions are ideal for the bump and run style of links golf, but most of the holes on my home course aren’t really designed for that style of play. A few holes reward landing short of the green and rolling on, but pins are often tucked behind high-faced bunkers on elevated greens. You need to learn to hit it high from tight lies when necessary.

In many ways this is probably closer to golf in it’s original form. I hardly played with Old Tom Morris, but the municipal courses I played in 1960s Texas were not nearly as well groomed as what I’ve come to expect today. For a long time I didn’t know what the phrase “tight lie” meant. All my lies were tight, so I didn’t see it as a distinctive type of lie. I learned to nip my irons and hit low, biting shots into the green. Sometimes we’d have a rainy year and the fairways would be relatively lush. I thought the grass was pretty, but I missed the roll on my drives.

I learned to hit a high ball when I lived in North Carolina. You needed carry if you wanted distance, and wind wasn’t as much of a concern as in Texas. I finally understood what a tight lie was, and didn’t like it much when I had one.

So now I’m back full circle, wishing I could remember how I used to hit that low, biting punch shot out of thin turf. I’m trying to recapture the feel of my teenage years, when I hit balls off bare dirt into a tarp in my back yard. But I’ve been spoiled.

I wish it would rain. A lot.

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