How to Play an Island Green (Golf Course Strategy)

Golf courses around the world are some of the best places in the world to enjoy natural beauty curated by humans. The vast meadow of the fairway, the roughs, the water hazards, and the manmade bunkers all come together in the eyes of a golfer.

But there’s one thing that surpasses all other elements of a golf course in terms of beauty. That’s island greens. Basically, these are floating patches of land surrounded by vast bodies of water. One of the main reasons behind the enormous popularity of island greens is their scarcity.

You can find good-quality island greens in a few courses around the world. We’re going to list some of them in this guide.

Speaking of guides, did you know that island greens are one of the most intimidating lies for players? And it should be. Because hitting a green at a regular course is very much different than hitting an island green. If you miscalculate the swing, you’ll end up in the water. No Mercy.

Even the PGA Tour Pros don’t take island greens easily because they know how ruthless that patch of green can be. Another reason to fear island greens would be their scarcity. It’s wonderful how the fact can result in two completely different outcomes, isn’t it?

If you don’t have access to an island green, how do you expect to master it? It’s practically impossible. However, what’s possible is you practicing beforehand at the range as if you’re playing on an island green!

In this post, we’re going to take a look at a few ways you can improve your chances at an island green.

How to Hit the Island Green?

The most important element of playing an island green is landing on the right spot. Depending on how the green is designed, there might be water hazards or even bunkers around it. Your goal is to land in such a spot where you can transition easily into your short game.

Take the Right Club

We may have discussed about taking the right club for a shot on multiple occasions before. But none of them are as crucial as this one. Because if you don’t take the right club for this shot, you’re bound to end up in the water.

To know which club would be best for the landing shot in green, you would need to know your capabilities with all of them. It means hours upon hours of practicing at the driving range. You need to put in the hours during rain, wind, snow, or other natural phenomena to truly dial in your settings.

When you know how each club acts in hands and what distance you can cover, the process of hitting an island green becomes so much easier. So, if you’re still not in-tune with your club selection capabilities, start practicing now.

Get Your Swing Correct

This is somewhat an extension of our previous point. You can’t hope to succeed even with the perfect club for the perfect distance if you don’t know how to swing it. The swing is the most important skill a golf player needs to master.

You need to work on your attack angle, address position, ball position, backswing, down swing, follow through, and every other element of the swing to get this shot right. When your skills and the club you choose work in harmony, you can expect to tame an island green only then.

Tweak the Grip

If you’re approaching a shot to the island green, you need to pay extra attention to your grip. Even the best players in the world are bound to tense up before an intimidating island green. If you find yourself in a similar situation, take a deep breath and relax.

Although it won’t help much to calm your anxiety, it’ll help you focus better on your grip. If you tense up, the grip pressure on the shaft will change. It’ll be an inconsistent swing if you weaken or strengthen your grip mid-swing.

Just go with whatever grip you’re comfortable with, as long as it’s not a death grip. Your focus should be to maintain the grip pressure throughout the swing, starting from the backswing up to the follow through.

Some experts say that practicing swings with your mouth open helps with keeping the pressure consistent. While the science behind this is unknown, we can say it works in most cases. So, you may give swinging with your mouth open a try!

Take an Extra Club if You May

When you’re measuring the distance of an island green from your position, don’t measure the nearest edges to figure out which club to use. Instead, select the center of the green. This way, you eliminate the possibility of falling short due to high wind or any other resistance. Even if you have to play an extra putt to hole the ball, it’s better to have the ball dry than wet.

Another key aspect of club selection is the target zone. In general, players target the green. As long the ball lands on the green, wherever it may be, players consider it a success. That’s generally a good practice when you’re playing at a regular course.

The calculation is a little different for island greens. You can’t generalize your target when you’re trying to hit an island green. You need to go deeper. Pick a small, specific target that you want to hit. Use a rangefinder if you need to find the exact distance and select the club accordingly.

Some of Best Island Greens in the World

When you hear the term ‘island green’, different courses pop into different players’ minds. Those who don’t know what it is, nothing comes to their mind. In this section, let’s explore some of the most beautiful yet intimidating island greens around the world.

Coeur d’Alene Resort, Idaho, USA

This golf course come resort has the world’s only floating green on hole 14. That’s something, right? By floating, we mean the green is disconnected from the rest of the resort and floating with its picturesque view on the Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The green measures about 150 yards from the short of the lakes which means it’s going to be a pretty long swing to reach it. As it’s a floating green, you don’t have any way to walk to it. You can either swim or take a boat. Jokes apart, the only way to reach the island green is by a boat named ‘putter’. Fancy, right?

PGA West Stadium Course, Palm Springs, California, USA

The 17th hole at the PGA West Stadium course is another spectacular island green in the US. Palm Springs is known as the golf capital among players for its rich history of golf. An interesting fact is that this island green is somewhat a replica of the iconic 17th hole of TPC Sawgrass, a masterpiece by none other than Pete Dye.

The green on the West Stadium is longer and even more daunting than the original. The perimeter of the green is covered with rocks. If you’re happy to see bunkers on this green, your happiness won’t last thanks to this rocky perimeter.

Resource: Step by Step Golf Practice Routines + Training System

Le Golf National, Guyancourt, France

The 18th hole at Le Golf National course in France is one of the most sought-after green among PGA professionals. This hole is known as the Albatross because it can qualify as both a 5-par and a 4-par hole.

The green on this island has a grenade bunker protecting it. The interesting fact is, 18th is the not only hole on this golf course that has an island green. The 15th hole is also connected with the 18th via strips. It’s considered one of the most unpredictable greens in the world!

TPC Sawgrass, Florida, USA

While we would love to include all the other green islands in the world in this post, it’s simply not possible. But we can’t let TPC Sawgrass slide just like that. There’s debate among golf players whether this is the most difficult green in the whole entire world or not!

The 17th hole on the TPC Sawgrass has 137-yard green. Sounds like a breeze, right? It’s all good until you see the green itself. It’s a very little area of smoothly cut grass and water surrounding it from three sides. The other side has a slip strip connecting it to the rest of the course.

As we’ve already mentioned, this green is designed by Pete Dye, a legendary golf course architect in the US. He made a hole so intimidating that even Tiger Woods don’t trust it to be his final hole! Because all you need is a strong whirl of wind to throw your ball off balance and land right in the water.

Final Words

Island greens are not your everyday greens. They’re special. So, they need special attention and special skills to tame. While it’s hard to find practicing grounds to master island greens, you can adjust your regular practice routine to accommodate the skills needed. It all depends on how much you love golf and how much you want to overcome your fear of island greens.

Golf Practice Plans to Follow

Thanks for reading today’s article!

Nick Foy – Golf Instructor

nick foy golf academy
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