By Michael Sweenie, Teaching Professional, Jumeirah Golf Estates
The 18th on Earth is undoubtedly a strong ﬁnishing hole designed to provide a dramatic ﬁnish to close out the DP World Championship and one of the biggest prizes in golf – and over the years this hole has certainly not disappointed. Even the best golfers in the world have been tested with this – at times – treacherous par 5 closing hole, so for any amateur golfer I would advise this hole gets approached in the right focused manner… to avoid any disasters!
From tee to green, this hole plays uphill all the way, with a meandering stream coming into play for the ﬁrst, second and most likely third shot. It requires a careful placed tee shot into the widest part of the fairway which can help take the stream out of play, so for most amateurs with the green out of reach in two shots often a 3 wood or rescue are probably the most sensible clubs off the tee. The left side of the fairway is well guarded with deep Earth course bunkers.
With the tee shot negotiated, personally I feel this is where the real challenge comes into play – ‘where do I lay up to?’. I would say the left side of the fairway is the safest approach for most players but does provide a longer approach shot angled to have to carry more of the water hazard guarding the front of the green. A risky lay up to the right side fairway is a smaller target but will leave a shorter approach shot and allow the golfer to play straight up the green crossing less of the hazard. So take your gamble wisely when making the decision for the lay up and avoid the ‘hit and hope’ aspect of just pulling out a fairway and hoping for a good result. The smart play here would be a carefully placed rescue or mid iron into the right area.
For any player looking to attack this par 5 in two, it requires a quality struck fairway wood often made even harder from a slightly downhill lie on the fairway, it just reminds me of Rory McIlroy’s incredible approach to the 18th last year during the ﬁrst round. An incredible 3 wood from 281 yards uphill from a downhill lie – not recommended for 99.999% of golfers worldwide! If attacking the green in two, often for the pros the safe bailout area is greenside bunker right.
For the approach shot after the lay up, club selection is key to ﬁnd the right portion of this heavily sloping from back to front, but narrow green. The approach shot again plays uphill so take the extra club for security and eliminate the hazard.
Three quality golf shots may leave you with a makeable putt for birdie and a solid ﬁnish. But for most amateurs, if you can play this closing hole anywhere near the average of ﬁve strokes, I guarantee you will be gaining an advantage of the rest of your playing partners.
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