Golf is an interesting game. You can swing less to hit far; hit to a shorter yardage on the fairway to set-up your next shot; hit a 3-wood of the tee to play safe; and use course management to avoid all trouble. But every once in a while, a player must hit an aggressive shot to score low!
Let me set up this picture. I am lying two on a par 5. My yellow ball is 25 yards from the apron. The green is elevated by 1 foot from the long grass to the apron. The pin is 10 yards on the green with 20 yards past the hole to the other side of the green. The grass is thick. I can get my club on the ball, but I was not sure if I could make clean contact..
How would you play this shot?
I had the choice between a 52, 56, or 60 degree wedge. Each wedge offers a shot with its pros and cons.
I walked up to the green and stepped on the grass just short of the green and found it soft and the grass was about 3 inches long. To me, this meant that driving the ball just short of the green and hoping it popped up near the hole would not work. So my 52 degree wedge is out.
The green was typical for my area, not soft or hard. I am hitting into a green that tilts right to left. Using a 56 or 60 degree wedge is possible, really becomes a matter of how hard I want to swing my club.
I decided to use my 60 degree wedge because I wanted the higher trajectory to land the ball softer on the green. I felt that a 3/4 swing would eliminate many of the challenges this golf shot posed. As I stood over the ball, I opened the blade slightly because I figured that the long grass would close the club face a little during contact. I decided to fly the ball to the pin and let it roll past the hole.
My aggressive approach did have some negative possibilities. If I did not hit the ball first, the grass would shift my club face and I would hook the ball, hit it thin, or slide right underneath the ball. Anyone of these errors would cost me my chance at birdie.
I actually made good contact on the ball. It quickly rose and sailed just right of the pin. As the ball moved towards my landing area, I realized I hit the ball cleaner than anticipated and it landed about 3 yards past the pin. Then it released another 3 yards leaving me an 18 foot putt for par.
Given my situation, I was very happy with the results. I now had a reasonable chance for birdie and the very worst a par. For those who are wondering, I left the ball 4 inches below the hole for a tap in par.
My aggressive approach to this shot was rooted in two things: confidence in my wedge play and understanding the difference between risk/reward. The shot I made had more reward than risk by playing aggressive. Knowing when to play aggressive can only be learned by playing golf, understanding your game, and willing to take a chance once in a while.
This is how I played the hole. How would you play it?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!