What is Bermuda grass and what is the best way to play from it?

What is Bermuda grass and what is the best way to play from it?

An end-of-season trip to Eastlake for the final round is always something I look forward to.

This year was no different. There were many highlights from my week-long visit to Atlanta. I met Jerome Pettis and Vince Carter. I played a small role in the Hickory Club Challenge before the tournament; I got a close-up of a replica of Calamity Jane (awarded to the winner of the tournament), and I got to play some amazing golf at PGA TOUR Live.

Eastlake is a fantastic venue that challenges every club in the bag. It requires precise length off the tee, control of distance to the green, and imagination and touch on and around the greens. It also requires a deep understanding of how to play on Bermuda grass… especially around the greens.

Chipping and putting in Bermuda can be difficult, and even the best players in the game are often overwhelmed by the challenge. The reason is that the grass grain plays a huge role in the performance of the club face across the impact zone. Essentially, inside and outside lies have vastly different effects on stroke quality, spin control and trajectory (with the former being the most difficult to judge and play).

Although telling lies can be difficult, it is not impossible if you understand and apply a few simple keys:

1. Be versatile in your ball position

Many critics say that the ball stance should be played forward in the stance. I agree with this concept but I stress that you should not be limited by it. Daniel Berger (one of the best PGA TOUR players outside of Bermuda) once mentioned to me that he moves the ball position depending on the demands of the shot. In other words, Move the ball back to your stance If you are not sure and want to ensure first contact with the ball.

2. “Shaft tilt” is important

If you understand how the tilt of the shaft at impact exposes the leading edge of the club to the ground, you will set yourself on the path to success. Simply put, the further the club handle is ahead of the club head at impact, the further the leading edge of the club is presented to the turf through impact. Furthermore, the leading edge is a “cutter” and the back edge of the racket is a “guard” (hence its name “bounce”).

Therefore, the more your hands are in front of the head at contact, the higher the club face will be, and the more the leading edge will tend to cut through the grass (and stick to the Bermuda grass).

Conversely, the fewer hands in front of the club head, the less the “cutter” is exposed and the less the club sticks to the ground through contact – which is best when in the grain.

Before we discuss any drills and changes, I must stress that you can hit good, flying shots using something other than your loftiest wedge. Think about it, you can get less reaction on the grass and change course with a lower club because it requires less slant to engineer the down shot.

Exercise to help…

The perfect shot occurs when the leading edge, during the downswing, creates the strike, clips the grass and then the bounce helps the club come off the ground toward the upswing. It all happens in an instant, and when the perfect interaction occurs on the grass it results in maximum control.

A great way to practice this is to grab an old sand wedge and practice it on cement or another firm surface.

Off the ball, assume your address with a touch of greater pressure on your front leg. While holding the club, allow your arms to hang freely from your shoulders over your middle. The shaft of your sand wedge should be set at an angle where the hands are low and pointing slightly to the left of the navel (for right-handers).

Swing and try to return the pole to the same place it was. This will activate the leading edge and bounce.

When you have a sense of timing and feel, swing and hit the hard surface and feel how the club bounces off the ground on the follow-through.

Once you've mastered that, move to the edge of the green and do the same. Then, when you are consistent in “landing” the club correctly, add a ball to the equation.

Pass, focusing on repeating the arc rule and not hitting the ball.

You will be pleasantly surprised!

Golf.com Contributor
Broadcaster and analyst Mark Immelman is passionate about the game of golf. As a decorated coach, NCAA award-winning college golf coach, and accomplished golfer, Mark brings strong knowledge and extensive experience to his role as a television broadcaster and golf coach. He is currently a golf analyst for CBS Sports HQ, and an on-course analyst and broadcaster for CBS Sports and Golf on CBS. He also currently works as a studio analyst and on-course broadcaster for PGA TOUR Live.

The older brother of 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Mark grew up in West Somerset, South Africa. After a successful amateur career in South Africa, he earned a golf scholarship to Columbus State University (Columbus, Georgia). He enjoyed a prolific collegiate tenure highlighted by his four-time All-America selections, two Academic All-America awards, and two NCAA Div Awards. Second national championship victories. After graduating, Mark spent a short season as a professional, but soon turned his attention to his true passion – teaching golf.

As a golf instructor, Mark believes in developing ability and talent by providing comprehensive, comprehensive golf instruction that is easily understood and of the highest quality for golfers of all abilities and skill levels. His passionate style and deep knowledge of the game have led to him becoming the focus of attention among top professional and amateur golfers alike. During his career, he has taught and/or consulted to PGA TOUR and European Tour pros and tournament winners such as: Larry Mize, Loren Roberts, Trevor Immelman, Scott Brown, Patton Kizzire, Louis Oosthuizen and Will Wilcox. He has been recognized as one of Golf Digest's “Top 20 Under 40 Instructors,” Golf Digest's “Best Instructors in the State of Georgia,” and Georgia Trend's “Top 40 Under 40 – Georgia's Best and Brightest.”

As an NCAA collegiate coach at Columbus State University (since 2001), Mark continues to coach the Columbus State men's golf team and his program is a perennial contender for conference and national titles. It is a two-time NCAA Division I champion. II Atlantic/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, two-time Peachbelt Conference Coach of the Year, and 2009 NCAA Div Championship. II National Coach of the Year.

In 2019, Mark was named captain and coach of the International (Arnold) Palmer Cup team. His team defeated the United States team in the Palmer Cup matches held at the Aleutian Club outside Little Rock, Arkansas.

Mark's additional broadcast duties include being a guest analyst on CBS Sports' “First Cut Podcast.” CBS Sports also uses Mark's unique voice for PGA Tour audio and promo announcements and promotional read-outs.

He also served 6 years as Play-by-Play announcer for Sirius/XM PGA TOUR Radio.

Additionally, Mark hosts “On the Mark,” a PGA TOUR podcast, which to date has been downloaded more than 3 million times in over 125 countries.

He has also written golf instructional columns and articles for Golf Digest SA and Golf Digest USA and currently writes instructional articles for Golf Magazine. As an author, Mark has published two e-books on golf instruction: “Scandalously Simple – The Easy Way to Hit Accurate Golf Shots” and “Golf's Game for Recovery.”

You can learn more about him at MarkImmelman.com

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