The stage is set, the pairings are out. All that stands between the players and putting points on the board is the golf course. Kevin Kirk gives his take on Royal Melbourne
In part two of our chat with elite PGA Tour coach Kevin Kirk, he gave us the low-down on Royal Melbourne and the keys to victory around the tricky links-style layout…
Kevin Kirk on… Royal Melbourne
“It’s one of the best courses on the planet. I got the chance to play there in the early 2000s and I just fell in love with it. I’ve really enjoyed watching all the wonderful competitions that have taken place there. It never disappoints and is surely going to be a great stage for this event.”
Kevin Kirk on… preparing for this style of course
“Historically, my thoughts have been to try and start preparation pretty far in advance. Once the player has either made the team or looks like they’re going to be chosen, you want to start building a few things into their practice. Whether that’s practising more in the wind to work on their trajectories or trying to find locations where they can practise the chipping and pitching challenges that they’ll face.
“So for Royal Melbourne instead of chipping off the turf, find a green somewhere to chip from. At a practice area, find a green you can chip off so it’s a tighter lie and try to find some bunkering that’s as close to what you’re going to see as possible. The bunkering at Royal Melbourne is unique and the surfaces shots are landing onto are going to be firm so it’s hard to replicate it 100% but you can anticipate a few things and at least start to get some reps in.”
Kevin Kirk on… who the course favours
“If you look at the rankings of the players, at this level everybody plays all over the world. They all know how to play the hard, fast courses where you have to flight the ball. Even all the bunkering at Royal Melbourne – I don’t think it’s that big a factor.
“The advantage the Internationals have is the hometown crowd. And they’ve some players on the team who have played a lot in Australia so may be a little more familiar with the course and that style of play. I know a lot of the International squad played Sydney last week to get themselves geared up for this – getting their body clocks adjusted and getting used to the firmness of the ground and all the things that go along with it. But the Americans will be ready too.”
Kevin Kirk on… the keys to victory
“It’s a second shot golf course so it’s about being able to get the ball in a decent position off the tee so you can get it onto the right axis coming into the greens. If the wind blows, obviously trajectory control is going to be super important. And if you miss greens the chipping, pitching and bunker shots are very difficult.
“It’s going to favour people who have good ball control this week – those that really control the flight and trajectory of their iron shots and can chip and pitch the ball well around the greens. Obviously once you get on the green it becomes a putt-off but I think it’s really about good iron play and chipping and pitching – they’re going to be the big differentiators.
“But we’re talking about a bunch of world-class players. They all know how to operate in pretty much every environment you put them in so it’s just about who performs in the moment.”
Kevin is in Australia as the US team look to make it eight wins in a row. Follow him on Instagram for updates.