So let me know if this sounds familiar…..You’re playing a great round. You got a couple stroke lead on your playing partners and you step on the tee after you drained a big putt on the previous hole. The momentum is flowing in your favor….and then….you flat out bomb a drive but slowly it drifts and drifts and drifts into the woods. Now what do you do? You technically have 2 options…but realistically there is only one solution you should consider….GET THE BALL BACK IN PLAY!!!
I see it time after time, heck I’ve even done it myself. We have all tried to hit the heroic cut 4-iron starting it low then rising around some trees and carrying it over the small pond and having it land in a 3 foot circle short left of the green so it rolls to the back pin. Then of course you have to make the birdie putt.
If your Tiger trying to win the Masters then go for it……if not, play smart.
Think of how many times the shot has actually paid off? Can you count them fairly quickly?
Here should be your thought process in this situation
1. Assess the lie – Is it buried in something, is it on pine straw, behind a tree, etc.
2. Look at your options – Can you pitch out left or right, behind you, can you go forward
3. Analyze your risk/reward – If you go for the green where is the miss? would you rather be hitting a wedge from 80 yards in the fairway or from a deep green side bunker?
4. Pick a lay-up spot where you want to hit your next shot from– This is crucial! Don’t just jump in the woods and knock something out. Think of your next shot and what distance and angle you want to hit in from
5. Choose a club….wisely – Pick a club that will advance the ball but will avoid all the trouble. For instance, if you are in a heavily wooded area don’t take a wedge because most likely it will go too high and catch some limbs. Choose a mid to long iron here. Get that ball going low and on the ground. (See the chipping section for proper set-up techniques)
6. Trust it! – You’ve done all the hard work so now just trust your club and the direction you’ve chosen. Be confident until completion because missing this shot a few feet right or left could leave you with another tough escape.
Here’s the thing…I’m not saying don’t try to roll the dice every once in a while and gamble on a difficult shot from trouble but if you can chip out, get a good distance from your next shot, and knock it on the green then you still have a chance to make par. Why try to weave it through the forest just to get a slim chance for a birdie putt.
Course management is often overlooked in the game of golf. Take a look at the last round you just played and analyze the scorecard. I will almost bet that there were a few occasions that you could have made lower scores if you just chipped out into the fairway.
Start plotting your way around the golf course better and your scores will start to decrease. If you want to gamble, go to Vegas! If you want to play better golf then improve your management of the golf course.
Be good and as always Keep it Positive!