As a golfer, we all that one fear in golf what usually creeps into our minds before we make the shot. It is not always there until that certain situation when it enters our thoughts faster than a bullet train. Mine is hitting a ball short into the sand or water on approach shots. I have worked on this fear for years, but of course there is a bit more to the story,
The examples above depict my exact fear. I tried to keep the visual perspective to clarify my example. It is not the shape of the green. Also, I did try to keep the hitting distance to the water as the same. After providing a couple of hints, can you see the difference?
My fear is based in the proximity to the hazard to the green. I have no fear hitting over hazards, but this particular shot is my bugbear.
In the top picture, the hazard is nestled close to the green and there is no room for a miss hit or coming up short. In the second picture, I have about 20 yards from the hazard to the green. Surprisingly, this relatively small distance is what causes me difficulty.
The funny thing is I know exactly where my trepidation comes from. I was playing in a tournament about 20 years back at the Garrison Golf course in Kingston, Ontario. It is the 13th hole. The day was blowing stiffly from left to right about 25 km per hour. Here is what it looks like:
This is the write up on the par three. I was playing from the blues on this day.
170 164 156 124 106 Green depth: 28
The most picture perfect hole on the golf course. The wind blows left-to-right, and a pond stands between you and the green. This kidney shaped green is guarded by a bunker on the right side, but the biggest mistake you can make here is coming up short. Add an extra club because the trees hide the wind very well, but once the ball is in flight, the wind will knock the ball down and to the right.
This is a natural six iron for me to the centre of the green. On any other day, I would easily hit to the middle and walk off with a 2 putt. It is the smart way to play the hole, however my strategy did not work as expected. The pin was located about 4 paces off the left side at the bend in the green. Not an overly pin shot, but apparently on that day it was.
- Taking the advice to use an extra club, I grab a 5 iron. My first shot off the tee (you can see where this is going) was not crisp and as I watched land short in the water I knew it was all me.
- My second shot I hit properly, but landed between the green and water pin high. My ball kicked left and jumped into the water. I made poor decision and decided to him my ball from the tee instead of taking a drop. (Course management lesson here).
- So I decided to over compensate and aim for the right of the green using the same 5 iron. Yup, you guessed it, the wind blew my ball into the centre of the sand trap. Now lying 5, I could feel my frustration growing. Fortunately, I had a good lie and was able to easily get my sand wedge on the ball.
- After splashing out to about 10 feet above the hole, I needed a good putt to walk of with a 7. After lipping out, I tap in for a smooth snowman. Walking to the next green, my playing partners gave me a little bit more space than normal, that was a good call.
Since that day, I have a recurring fear when facing such shots. What triggers my anxiety is the location of the water to the green and a flat shot. The flat shot seems to affect my visual ability, but only when the water is near the green. I cannot explain it, but it is always there.
Knowing this, I have a developed a fix that works most of the time. It is a simple fix, but sometimes leaves we with a long putt. I am to the back distance of the green regardless of where the pin is located. I figure I would rather be on the green putting than mess with the water or sand.
Understanding my weaknesses is important to shooting low scores. I do have confidence in my game, but for some reason this one situation still haunts me. I will continue to work the issue because that is what we do to fix our game.
Do you a fear on the course you mitigate, but cannot solve…..yet?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!