Through the course of 6000+ golf shots I take each year, I can honestly say that I might be confused on how to play a golf shot a couple of times. I believe I can assess how to play 99.5% within seconds of arriving at my ball. The other 0.5% of the time I will have to think about my best options. But, every so often (actually rarely) I am confused or dumbfounded on how to play a shot. I know this sounds crazy, but it happens!
Generally, I follow the mantra of “see the shot – do the shot” without fail. I can envision the shot I want to make and commit to a successful outcome. The process (of course it is a bit more complicated that that, but my pre-shot routine covers most challenges) is simple and straight forward. It allows me to visualize how I want the shot to be executed and tells my body the proper movements needed to play it well. Pretty simple….right?
Every so often, I am faced with a challenge I am not sure how to solve. Generally, the ball is in rough and I have a play. The problem is the risk/reward aspect of how to play the shot. If I want to play aggressive, then that is one shot. If I want to play safe, that is another. And yet the third option is being aggressive, but not too aggressive. Each has its pitfalls that goes through my head. I play a lot of ‘what ifs’ as I focus on how this shot will impact my score. After years of experience, I can tell you that focusing on my score at anytime during one of these shots is completely the wrong approach.
I try to keep Ben Hogan’s statement in mind. Much like when playing pool, it is not what you play that is important, it is what your leave. Basically, when faced with a confusing shot, I need to think about what shot I want to hit next. Before many of you shout putter; keep in mind that my shot is coming out of the rough and there are many risks associated with every shot. So, what I do is reset my thinking and if I do not have a reasonable chance to hit the green, I try to shoot to a yardage (either 120 or 50 yards).
Shooting for a yardage allows me to set up my next shot in one of my comfort zones. I either distance fits perfectly in to my wedge play and a chance to minimize any high scores (double or more). I first try to focus on hitting to 50 yards, if that is not reasonable, I will drop back to 120 yards. The club selection could vary greatly depending on which distance I am going for, but that is all part of the confusion of playing a tough golf shot.
Then to make golf shots tougher, we contend with stance, uphill shots, downhill shots, having to shape a shot, trees, long grass, divot holes, etc. There influences on any golf shot can push us from the routine to complex categories. When I start entering complex, shooting to a distance works best for me.
It is not unusual to be have to think about a golf shot. Being totally confused….well it does happen from time to time. My best advice (besides good luck) is to zoom out and chose the best shot that leaves you with an easier next shot. Ben Hogan’s advice is too valuable to ignore. In case you are wondering, I am not the only golfer to be confused with a golf shot from time to time.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
4 thoughts on “Totally Confused With How To Play A Golf Shot”
Jim, your thought process and approach regarding the leave is excellent. I’m very surprised at your 99.5% certainty number. That seems extraordinarily high and suggests that you may be a little too comfortable. Does it come from playing the same course so many times that you always know where to hit it? I know Covid has basically killed travel, but you may want to try more rounds away from home to keep that part of your game fresh.
Hope 2021 opens up a bit more for us. I just cancelled my February trip to Myrtle Beach 😦 but am still planning on going to Michigan in July.
You could be absolutely right about playing the same course all the time. I do not travel much, we have a few selections in the area, but you will be driving for at least 1 hour in any direction, usually more. So, I do not travel much. Something to think about for sure.
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Too many choices. Not enough choices. Don’t like any choices. We’ve all been there. And I agree the safer option is usually best when we get that way.
I’m generally ok with getting those feelings. I think that for me, it’s better to have them than not most of the time. Too much swagger can lead to bad decisions or worse, a failure to follow routine and move too fast. A little doubt and/or confusion here and there tends to bring back my edge.
Great point. Complacency is not good for a golfer. I have a tendency to fall into that rut from time to time.