Strategy: TPC River Highlands, Hole #15

Bradley Hughes explains how to play 15th hole at TPC River Highlands, reachable par 4 with water on the left.


When I think of the 15th hole at the TPC River Highlands, I think of the ultimate risk and reward hole. We have a drive-able par four for just about everyone in the field. Some will have to hit driver, some will have to hit three wood.

The way I played it-- and I was a member there for five years at the TPC River Highlands, that was my home course, so I know this course better than most-- I would play that hole in a couple of different ways, depending one, how I felt, and my swing felt, and of course two, the situation. So come Sunday, we'll see a lot of decision making on a hole such as this.

Now it all seems well and good to try and drive the green and make an eagle. However there's so much trouble around this green, it really plays tricks on the mind. So there's water left. If you bail out to the right, there's quite a severe swale to come up. And then the whole green runs away from you.

If I didn't get it on-- the front is a perfect little spot to be. Now the other option would be to hit a five iron off the tee. So this is one of the tough things, laying up on holes. We see it on second shots on par fives.

And this hole is a prime example of it, that we feel if we're only hitting a five iron, we can just swing away. But we need to be, again, very consistent in our focus. We need to pick out a small patch of grass, or a sprinkler, or a tree in the distance, something that we can zone our target in quite small.

When we just go blase and hit away, we have no specific target. Our brain and body don't react as well and we can actually mess up the shot. It's a really easy shot to play as long as we're focused.

Now why did I say a five iron? It's because the bunkers on the left are about 200 yards out. So we need to hit a club that we can be aggressive with.

We want to hit an aggressive five iron that we know still won't reach the bunkers. It's pointless trying to hit a 3 iron up there and hitting it really soft, and just poking it into play.

Our best chance of hitting to a proper target is to hit the most aggressive club with the most aggressive swing that we can make so we don't guide and we don't steer. That will fully engage our mind and our body into making the proper swing and putting that ball in play. From there, it's only a 90 yard shot in and you've still got a chance at birdie.