LPGA Instructor Meredith Kirk: My Perspective at a Higher Altitude

I just returned home from a vacation in Denver, a place special to heart. I spent my formative years growing up in Denver and learning how to play the game of golf there. With only a couple weeks to visit many places, I knew that playing some of my favorite childhood courses was a must! In doing so, I recognized two key aspects of playing golf at a higher altitude and how adjusting to lower altitude (sea level golf in Myrtle beach) can affect your game.

1. Let’s talk about the putting greens. Most courses in Colorado and cooler climate states have bentgrass with poa annua on their putting surfaces. As I acclimated myself to these greens, I noticed a few features they present that effect the roll of the ball. Bentgrass has thinner blades of grass verses Bermuda from the warmer climate states. That allows the ball to roll smoother and faster. However, throw in poa annua in the bentgrass mix and it changes the dynamic of the green. The poa adds inconsistency to the putting surface: bumpiness, unevenness, sometimes unreadable lines, and is a very ‘moody’ grass as it changes its behavior from early morning to late afternoon.
If you are adjusting from Bermuda to Bentgrass, expect faster greens, truer reads, and a smoother surface, but keep your eyes on that poa! If you are adjusting from Bentgrass to Bermuda, prepare for a more ‘grainer’ experience. Bermuda grass loves the sun and will follow it during the day. Keep your eyes on the grain direction as this will affect how hard you roll the ball, and potential bumpiness. Imagine a high gloss picture verses a matte picture. That is a visual comparison between Bentgrass and Bermuda.

What do I like the most? Well, I’m a little biased. I love the TifEagle Bermuda that is on many of our courses here in Myrtle beach. The blade of this type of Bermuda is a little thinner which creates a ‘satin’ green. Not as smooth and glossy as bent but can still produce faster greens than traditional Bermuda.

2. Prepare for distance and yardage to fluctuate. I struggled to get used to my new yardage in Colorado. I gained an easy 15 yards at 5500 feet above sea level and maybe even 20 yards up in the mountains at 9000 feet. I really enjoyed that! But, with varying elevations, topographical features, and more slopes on the greens, I scored about the same.
If you are traveling to Myrtle Beach for your next golf trip from a higher elevation, expect to lose some yardage. But keep in mind the benefits to playing our courses in Myrtle: flatter putting surfaces, easier to read greens, less slope, depth perception is not an issue, and the greens in Myrtle can be as fast as those bentgrass greens! If you don’t believe me…go play TPC Myrtle Beach!

I had a great golf experience being reminded of the various changes we all must acclimate to while traveling to other regions playing this awesome game! So, you may wonder which region I prefer to play in the most? Well, the Golf Capital of the World wins! With over 90 courses to choose from, I’m perfectly content here. Grateful to call this place home.