Take advantage of technology.
That’s one lesson emerging in the COVID era for area golfers. A large number of teaching pros shelved their instructional programs or started late, while many golfers just did without them. Yet with at least two months of good golf weather looming, valued input can be used. One resource unfolds at MaysLandingGolf.com, where the club’s well-liked pros Bill Papa and Ben Thomas placed several instructional videos. Players can pick a topic relevant to them, not only for the remainder of this season, but for each subsequent campaign. One of them is practice. This is important because it may occur away from the course, where someone hits a bucket of balls to stay sharp.
“It’s not that practice makes perfect, but that perfect practice makes perfect. The problem for many players is that everybody just goes up and starts whacking the balls, and they keep whacking them. After they have hit about 20 balls, they are tired and their muscles are not able to perform the same way,” Papa says on the video. “The key to practice is performing one task at a time, with fewer repetitions and more concentration on one area. This will build muscle memory and reinforce what the golfer seeks to work on.”
In the video, a large group of practice balls are placed between Papa and Thomas, who took a few strides away from the pile and brought one ball with him. Thomas took practice swing number one. Then practice swing number two. And then he promptly hit the ball. That’s the process Papa advises repeating. Fewer balls, more concentration. Stay on one task. Reinforce that one task. Preserve muscle memory.
“If you go up and start rocketing all these balls off, I’m telling you that on half of them you’ll be tired and you’ll waste your time,” he adds. “Don’t waste your time on them.”
Papa and Thomas represent a course that’s long been popular with the public. It was born with pedigree via design by the late Leo Fraser, past president of the PGA tour, and it was baptized by golf legends Sam Snead and Tony Lema, who opened the club in 1962 with an exhibition match. The back tees play 6,395 yards, the white tees most people use is 6,022 and the most forward set is 5,083.
Mays Landing is challenging, yet playable. It contains enough yardage to demand good driving distance, along with a sample of the game’s most challenging features like sand traps and large, undulating greens, doglegs and tight holes. What it does not contain is the newer “target golf” element, in which players must hit over large bodies of water or be stuck in deep sand traps. Those features add to the character of a course, but also slow up play.
The sixth hole can be turned into a monstrous challenge if one wants to play the back tees of this par 3 at more than 200 yards, but Papa suggests the 172-yard distance for most players. It is an excellent hole, with a couple of creeks running across the fairway, a left-side trap and large body of water on the right. The green is small and runs uphill. It takes a precision shot to reach. Some players will opt to be hit the tee shot short of the putting surface and hope it runs onto the green. Or, if the pin is in the front, they can deliberately play short and be putting uphill from just in front of the green. Given the woods behind this hole, being long of the green is disaster too.
The eighth is a long par-5, with a fairway that slants sharply from right to left. This means flirting with the right-side trees to allow enough room for the shot to bound back into the fairway. The terrain dips and then rises before the green, making shot placement important.
Tap-ins: The course has fairway markers at different vantage points. The red marker is 100 yards from the center of the green. The white is 150, the blue 200 and the gold is 250. This is especially helpful if you are at that spot or a few yards in front or behind it. The yardage will help with accurate club selection.