The Italian Ryder Cup hasn't started yet, but international analysts are constantly talking about the par 4s of the Marco Simone and the various strategies that the players will use. This is because, being a course designed specifically for Ryder matches, the architect Dave Sampson designed 3 "drivable" par 4s, i.e.
reachable with the first shot. This type of hole is the most spectacular in golf because it can be played in many different ways, testing players' strategy. In foursome matches (alternating shots) we will probably see more conservative choices, while in fourball matches (best score between the two, hole by hole) the players will be very aggressive and we will see many birdies and eagles.
Surely the score of the match and the position of the opponent, as well as the position of the auction, will greatly influence the choices.
Ryder Cup, par 4s
Hole 5, par 4, 340 meters
The first drivable par 4 is the 5th.
This hole has a lake that runs along the left of the fairway and protects the short side of the green. For this reason it can only be reached with the driver when the batsmen have advanced, and the shot is very risky. The conservative strategy consists of hitting an iron from the tee, deciding whether to position yourself before or after the bunker on the right of the fairway, to leave yourself a short wedge to the green.
During previous editions of the Italian Open, the batters were advanced several times, and some players managed to reach the green. Hole 5
Hole 6, par 4, 343 meters The 6 is not actually drivable because the green is very high compared to the fairway and does not allow the ball to roll.
However, it will be interesting to see whether players choose to hit a drive very close to the green and leave themselves with a very uphill approach, or play shorter and leave themselves with a full shot. Hole 6
Hole 11, par 4, 305 meters
The 11th is the first true drivable par 4.
It is played uphill towards the highest point of the course, and the fairway is defended on the left by a stream that reaches the green and on the right by a series of bunkers. Another bunker in the center of the fairway makes the layup from the tee more difficult and players will have to decide whether to play into the narrows on the right, fly this bunker and leave it 60 meters away, or shoot directly to the green.
The green is very undulating and well defended, and the shot line is dictated by the position of the flag. During the Italian Open with the short shaft on the right even the most aggressive players tended to leave themselves with a full second, but with the match-play formula we can expect anything.
Hole 16, par 4, 298 meters
This hole is the most spectacular on Marco Simone. Many matches will be decided here and we will see exceptional shots. The hole is all downhill and is so short that some players will reach the green with a 3 wood, which is why we will see lay-ups only after an opponent shoots first into the water.
The green is protected by water on the short and right side, and the left side is protected by two bunkers. The steep slope of the green from left to right makes approaches from the left very difficult. It doesn't take much to go into the water with your drive, as happened to Rory McIlroy in the last round of the 2021 Open. Those who make a mistake on the right side, to the left, will have to sweat to bring home a birdie.
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