While playing golf, throwing caution to the wind is never a good strategy. Navigating the links takes thought and meticulous observation of the course conditions to score well. From the first time I tee it up to my final stroke, I zero in on the shot at hand. I stay focused for 4 hours and, in the end, I feel a sense of accomplishment that I achieved all my goals and left nothing on the course… Okay, wake up and grab your coffee! Of course, we all want the above to happen, yet it happens rarely. Now, for the real story!
Playing golf is a fun activity that offers multiple opportunities to be successful, or not. Miss-hitting shots is a part of everyone’s game, but to consciously play a shot while not considering all the consequences is not akin to low golf scores. However, shots like these occur and figuring out a solution before swinging is sometimes near impossible. I had a shot like that a few years back.
I was playing in a tournament in Petawawa and it was Day 2 of three. I was in the mix when I stepped up on the tee box on the 9th hole (par 5). I hit a very solid drive down the left side and my ball was in play. After my second shot, which I pushed to the right side of the hole, I was about 65 yards from the green. Seems fine so far, but there were some branches overhanging my shot 20 yards away.
These branches made it impossible to hit a PW or SW, but I might have been able to squeak a lob wedge (60º) over the branches. Unfortunately, I do not hit my lob wedge far, so I doubt I could have made the green. Plus I would have to swing very hard and I hate doing that with my wedges.
Under the branches was death as well. The green elevated 10 feet from the fairway and the slope was uneven and not symmetrical in any way. A pitch or bump-and-run was out of the question because I could not visualize how my ball would react to the front of the embankment.
There were no bunkers to use as a backstop, left was woods if I was long, and right was a severe slope that pushed your ball into more woods. I was stuck thinking what my next shot should be. I did not want to punch out and play for par, but it definitely was an option.
I thought and looked and wondered over my shot. I really did not know what shot to make that would give me a chance at birdie. This was a tournament and gaining a stroke at any time was always in my thought process. Well, after what seemed like hours, the time came for me to make a shot. I could not lament over my situation any longer.
So, I said “what the hell” to myself and grabbed a 7-iron, my trusted shot. I decided to play a low shot that would land just before the face of the elevated bunker, get a lucky bounce and end up on the green somewhere. Well, my plan looked good on paper anyway.
As it turned out, I hit my 7-iron just a bit too hard and it landed halfway up the embankment of the green (exactly where I did not want it to go). My ball popped almost straight up and landed on the top of the hill. Unfortunately, it was about 2 yards too short and the embankment swallowed my ball. In the blink of an eye, my ball started rolling back down the hill. As I sadly watched my shot unfold, I had no clue what would happen next.
My ball suddenly stopped halfway down the steep hill… and disappeared. As I walked over to my ball, it saw that it was caught up in a clump of thick grass. I could barely see the top. Now I was in some real trouble. Because of the steep hill, I decided to hit using a 9-iron because the angle of my shot would turn it into a lob wedge. I needed to swing fairly hard to ensure it had the distance to make it to the green.
I visualized the shot, swung hard, and the ball popped out as expected. I landed on the green about 25 feet from the pin. Considering how the last two shots unfolded, I was very happy to be sitting on the green even though I was putting for par, but realistically looking at bogey.
I hit my putt perfectly. It was on my line, the speed was good, and it was rolling towards my intended target. As it approached the hole, I started to think that this was going to be the best par ever until it stopped on the lip and would not drop. Moaning, then laughing, I walked up to my ball, smiled and tapped in for bogey. I walked towards the 10th hole thinking that things could have been way worse.
As you can tell from my situation, throwing caution to the wind is not a great strategy on the golf course. I was lucky to walk away with a bogey and to this day cannot think of another way to play my shot and still have a putt for birdie. I guess I will never know, but it is fun thinking back and wondering “what if”. I am sure I will have other shots that stump me in the future, and I will likely throw caution to the wind again. It is the nature of golf and something I relish as I play.
How would you play the above shot?
Do you ever throw caution to the wind when playing?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!