If you’re planning a golf vacation this winter, be prepared to face a course element common to most tracks in Hawaii, Arizona and Florida: Bermuda grass. If you’re not accustomed to playing on this type of turf, you may be surprised at how it can affect your game, both on the fairway and the putting surface.
In the fairway, Bermuda’s inherent structure often will cause your ball to “sit up.” Despite the “fluffiness” of the lie, don’t approach the shot as if the ball is teed up and attempt to scoop the ball off the turf. Due to the nature of the lie and the scoop swing, the ball will fly high, but it also will float more than usual, making it more susceptible to wind. Make sure you play the ball back a few inches in your stance (being careful not to move your hands back as well). This small adjustment will help you achieve a more penetrating ballflight by encouraging the hands to lead the clubface into the hitting zone.
On the putting green, the situation becomes even more dicey. Bermuda grass aggressively seeks out light and, therefore, tends to grow in the direction of the setting sun. This creates a crook in its growing pattern, which establishes the tremendous grain for which Bermuda putting surfaces are known. It’s imperative to have a clear read of the grain before any putt, even a two-footer.
Before reading any putt on a Bermuda green, walk to the hole and give the sides of the cup a good look. One half will look brown and ragged; the other half will be green and cleanly cut. The brown side of the hole indicates the side opposite the grain of the grass. Your putt generally will tend to drift toward that side of the cup and green.
PGA pro Eddie Lee instructs at Wailea Golf Club in Maui, Hawaii.