Strategy by Jack NicklausJuly 19, 2017

Thinking Through A Tough Finish

"Designers often save this sort of challenge for the 18th hole."

Most golf holes, particularly the ones I design, give options. There's a friendly route for the beginner and a riskier route where the reward forces the more skilled player to a decision. But some holes don't offer much. They're just plain tough, and your ability to execute shots on them makes or breaks your day. Designers often save this sort of challenge for the 18th.

The 494-yard, par-4 finish at Quail Hollow Club, site of this year's PGA Championship, is a great example. Designed by George Cobb and later altered by Tom Fazio, the 18th gets bogeyed a lot but birdied by those swinging with confidence. Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler made 3 here to seal their first victories on the PGA Tour.

When you get to the last tee box, not only is your body tired, but your mind might be, too. Force yourself to assess the dangers coolly one last time. If you look hard enough, you'll see a way to finish strong.—With Max Adler

Illustration by Chris O'Riley

ADVICE TAKEN QUICKLY
I like following the young talents. Even before he turned pro in 2007, I paid attention to Rory McIlroy. One month before he won his first PGA Tour event, the 2010 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail, I'd told him to stay patient; his time to win in the States was coming. Of course, he shoots a course-record 62 in the last round to win by four. I quickly wrote him a note that said, "I told you to stay patient, but this is ridiculous."

Mcilroy: Chris Keane/Icon SMI/Getty Images

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