I remember, early in my golfing career, talking to a gentlemen about the different ways to play a golf shot. He suggested that there were endless possibilities and an equally number of outcomes. At the time, I took his sage advise without question, but now I am not so sure that this is the case. I guess from a purely mathematical point of view, that is possible. However, from a course management aspect, no way!
During every shot I try to follow the same general routine to draw the right conclusion on which shot to make. For the most part, I am successful but every now and again I choose poorly. It is all part of the game and something I willingly accept. As my game matured, I realized that most golf shots offer only a couple realistic options and those are limited by on universal factor. This limitation is inherent in all players and it may very, but every golfer has it!
Every golfer limits their options when deciding which shot to make by “their ability to hit a golf ball”. Golf is very discerning this way because no matter if you are just starting or professional golfer, your options a to hit any golf shot are dependent on this factor. There are no exceptions.
As a rule I hit the ball straight. I can work the ball right or left from time to time, but do not rely on any shot other that hitting it straight most of the time. Yesterday’s round provides a perfect example of how my limitation on hitting a draw reduced my options on my second shot into the green of the 10th hole of a dogleg left par 5.
I hit my drive left and tight to the bushes, but had plenty of room to make a swing. After examining my lie, stance, weather conditions and what my next shot would look like and I was limited to three options:
- Low Risk: I had an clear and direct shot to the 150 yard maker. It was about 75 yards from my position. I would use a 3/4 pitching wedge. My approach would be from the middle of the fairway.
- Medium Risk: Hit tight to the trees and hit my ball 125 yards to 100 yards from the green. I would use a 3/4 7-iron and punch the ball. My approach would be from the right side of the fairway.
- High Risk: Hit a strong draw around the corner to about 50 yards (or closer) from the green. I would use a 3 hybrid and swing smoothly. My approach would be from the right side of the fairway.
As you can see, I obviously have other options, but none that fit my game. The three I outline were the ones that were my best course management options and I had the ability to actually complete all three. I discussed these options with my friend Rick and indicated that the low and medium risk were the only shots he would consider. Rick would not even consider the high risk shot because it was not in his bag.
As it turned out I made a stupid decision and went with the high risk shot. Believe it or not it was because I pulled my 3 hybrid and although I started to second guess my choice, I went ahead with the high risk shot anyway. I hit my ball with a minor draw and ended up at 70 yards nestled up to longish grass. I had a shot, but a very difficult one.
I had many options on my second shot. I narrowed it down to three and then had to make a decision about which shot I should make. Being the only second shot in the round, I decided to try the high risk shot because I wanted to make a quick start. A 50 yard chip would provide the best opportunity for a birdie!
The possibilities for a golf shot are not endless. They are limited by our abilities to make a particular golf shot. The lower the handicap, generally the more course management options. Regardless of the shot I want to play, I will always be limited by my abilities!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
7 thoughts on “The Possibilities Are Endless Or Are They?”
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Quick question….Was this a friendly round or a local tournament round?
I can understand the decision making you went through, but if its 18 holes with the buddies I figure “no guts no glory”.
Now, my handicap is nowhere near yours ( and maybe that’s why) but I look at it as learning something new about my game in a situation I will not see often. I am a righty and my natural flaw is a wonderful slice that I have tamed in situations in the right rough and around a tree. But attempting a draw when needed and getting it right once in a while makes memories.
In the end it’s all about how you want to dare the course on that particular day. So , I guess my opinion is to go for it unless something big is on the line.
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It was a friendly with the guys. It is important to try different shots for sure, however in this case the smart shot was the medium risk one. It is the one I would have chosen in a stroke tournament. Grat question, keep them coming.
Jim, if you were in a stroke play tournament round, would you have made the same decision? I doubt it. When you’re in a hole, it’s best to stop digging and get yourself back in position because it takes the big number out of play. Match play might be different because if you screw up, it’s just one hole. I guess it all depends. 🙂
You are absolutely right! Immediately after I hit shot, I said to myself that was poor decision. I even told the guys I would not do that again for the rest of the round and moving forward. I do believe that the example was a good one for possible options when making a shot. Golf is just a crazy game.
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I can’t picture the shot in my mind perfectly of course but based on the 3 choices you give, I’d have to agree that there were other options available. If you could punch out to 125 with a 7 hitting a straight ball out or hit a big draw with a hybrid, what was to keep you from punching out with just a little draw with say a 5 or 6 to keep you from having to skim the tree so closely? You might have got a 100 yard or less shot to the green from the fairway that way. And adding a little draw to a punch out is far easier than adding it to a full swing. I don’t mean to be argumentative, but we’re humans. We’re made to take leaps, not process a problem like a computer. We look for options when we’re using our heads, but we will never see them all. We can only strive to that level.
I agree that we can only process a limited number of options with respect to any golf shot. As to your question, hitting a 5 or 6 punch would likely drive my ball over the fairway into the woods without a draw. It is an option and I did consider it, but for some reason discarded the options. Golf is a crazy game that continues to challenge me almost at ever time I play. And I never consider our discussions as argumentative, it is just a discussion about golf. We do not always have to agree. I enjoy the listening to the different points of view.