Standing over 35-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole of the east course at Oaks North, I’d never felt more confident about sinking a long putt in my life.
Aiming at a hole the size of a large pizza will do that.
And sure enough, my putt, hit firmly at the left edge of the oversized hole, gently sloped in for a two on the closing par 3.
And with that, I had the experience the founders of Hack Golf wanted to me to have – increased ease of scoring.
The 15-inch cups have been in place for more than a month now and Oaks North Head Professional Lloyd Porter says the game is finding its audiences. He reports that young juniors in particular like the oversized holes as do couples.
“He’ll play the regulation holes and she’ll play the 15-inch cups,” he says. “The women really like it because it takes away some of the intimidation factor. When they hear about it, they say, ‘I’d try that.’”
And they are. Porter says the game is finding a following, though it may be a little too soon to jump to catching on. People are still discovering it during its curiosity phase, he says.
But the new holes are more than a curiosity at the course, Porter says. They’re a fixture.
“The holes are here to stay. This is for the next generation of golfers.”
The 15-inch holes, designated by a flag with a “15” on it, also come with their own tees, shorter than the whites. Those tees boxes are comprised of two large orange balls stamped with a “15.” There’s also a 15-inch cup on the practicing putting green.
The east course is the only nine of the 27 holes at Oaks North to have the 15-inch cups. Before last week, it was the only nine I hadn’t played.
Having played it, I think it’s an ideal nine of host the 15-inch holes. With three holes measuring 200 yards or more, there’s more opportunity than most executive courses to hit woods or rescues off the tee.
That means golfers getting exposed to the game on the 15-inch holes are getting something close to the full experience. In other words, it’s not just irons and wedges.
The only difference is at the green, where there’s a regulation hole on one side of the green and a 15-inch cup on the other. Not only is putting made easier by the larger holes, the short-game scoring possibilities greatly increase. If you’ve got a 20-foot chip, you’re trying to hole it.
That’s where the game really changes and can be good practice if you’re open to the experience.
If you’re looking to take your round on the 15-inch cups as more than practice and looking to go low, Oaks North Assistant Golf Professional Steve Lyons and I have come up with three scoring tips for you.
1. Putt aggressively – There’s no reason to hold back and your best bet is often to go straight at the hole. With a 15-inch cup, the ball isn’t jumping out. As painful as leaving putts short normally is, it’s doubly so here. See it and hit it firmly.
2. Go for the middle of the green – This timeless golf scoring strategy especially holds true on the 15-inch holes, none of which are in the middle. The greens are set up with a regulation cup on one side and a 15-inch inch on the other. Put yourself in the middle on every hole to have consistence chances to score. All you’re looking to do is set up a putt and then take advantage of the advantage the game is giving you.
3. Chip with irons, not just wedges – We talked previously about the scoring mentality of short-game shots on 15-inch cups. Unlike a normal round, you’re not necessarily looking to give yourself the best leave. You want to score – and a wedge isn’t necessarily your best bet for doing that.
Trying chipping with your 7-, 8- and 9-irons for your best scoring chances. Why? Those clubs don’t impart as much backspin and roll out more.
On the practice chipping green, hit practice shots with these clubs to learn how far they roll out and then allow for that on your shot. And these are shots that can come in handy in your normal round. Truthfully, most people don’t utilize these shots enough and teaching pros preach that you have better control of a ball on the ground than in the air. Here’s your chance to work on it.
Oaks North is the course of the month for JC Golf this month and the $15 introductory offer for nine holes on the 15-inch cups still applies. Call 858.487.3021, or go to jcgolf.com, to book your round today.