What is your greatest escape shot of all time? You know, that one shot that had much more risk than reward, but you decided to try anyway. Through the years, I attempted many high risk escape shots with very poor results. However, I have executed some amazing shots that still make me smile when I think about them. Here is one of those shots!
Many years back, I remember one of my great escapes many years back. I was not have a particularly good round, but the company was fun and the weather was outstanding. So of course, I was grateful to be playing golf.
This particular shot happened on the tenth hole at Borden Golf Course at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ontario. a par 4. This hole is very difficult considering its only 308 yards long. The hole is very tough because it narrows through the middle of the fairway, has a creek running through the fairway at 220 yards, drops in elevation off the tee by 15 yards, then at approximately 230 yards rises 20 yards to a green protected by a large bunker on the right hand side. The smart play is to hit a 7-iron to the landing area short of the creek and then an 8 or 9 iron to the middle of the green. I have played this hole hundreds of times with great success. For some reason, on this faithful day, I thought I would hit the ball to the top of the hill beside the green. What was I thinking!
Standing over the ball with my driver, I decided that I needed to give it just a bit more punch. Of course as soon as I decided to swing outside my normal tempo, disaster was just around the corner. As you can well assume, I came over the top and hooked the ball left…..way left! I ended up 40 yards of centre, down in a gully (about 5 yards below the surface of the fairway), surrounded by woods. I was 75 yards from the green staring at a big number. As I berated myself walking to my ball, but after about 100 yards I calmed down and started to focus on what was next!
Reaching my ball, I was happy to see that it was in a bit of an opening and it looked like I had a swing. Selecting 3 clubs, 60-56-52 degree wedges, I made my way down to my ball. Before I headed down into the gorge, I walked the edge and lined up the pin with my ball. So down I go!
At my ball, I did have a full swing with only minor hindrances. My line toward the pin was not great, but trees are 90% air right? I selected my 56 degree wedge because I needed to raise the ball quickly to get out of this abyss and still have enough distance to make the green. Now for the great escape.
After clearing some moveable objects away from the hitting area, I made a couple of practice swings. Stepping over the ball, I decided to hit the ball hard, but within balance. My thought process was that hitting the ball long over the green would not be a bad thing, but staying in the gorge would be very bad! After clicking a few leaves on my way down, I was happy to hear that I hit the ball first and it sounded very solid. The ball flew out trouble on my intended line. Fortunately, my 90% air idea proved to be correct as the ball flew out of the cabbage without hitting anything.
As I climb up the embankment, I hear someone yell “GET IN!” Suddenly, I am sprinting up the hill anxious to see where my ball ended up! As I crest the hill, I see my ball on the green just a couple of feet from the pin. As I walk closer, I realize my ball is a couple of inches from the pin! My playing partner was smiling and he said my ball almost landed in the hole and on the second hope, stopped dead! With a big grin, I tapped my ball in for birdie!
This great escape is one that I remember very clearly. In most cases, people what to know your score, but rarely how you accomplished it. In this case, I was happy to explain, in great detail, how I easily birdied the 10th hole that day! Golf is a peculiar game, some times you can do everything right and score poorly; other times a great escape helps you shoot under par.
Great escapes in golf are an important part to making this sport fun! They provide great memories and sometimes, something to brag about in the 19th hole!
As a bonus to this article I thought you enjoy seeing the master of great escapes, Phil Mickelson, show us how it is really done!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!