Golf is a series of pressure shots topped off with uber pressure shots. In between, there are your regular shots that require the same amount of focus as the pressure shots, but do not seem to have the same weight of consequence if missed. Hitting clutch shots would fall in the uber pressure category that most amateurs have challenges executing. Over the years, I played in many such situations and surprisingly, my success outdistances my failures. My last approach shot at the Senior Men’s Ryder Cup competition a few days ago is a perfect example of leveraging my past experiences of hitting a clutch shot when needed. I have a process that works 100% of the time, honest!
Just to recap from my previous post: After our drive into the fairway, we were situated 210 yards from the front of the green. As you can see from the picture below, the approach to the 18th green was an uphill, very narrow and challenging. I hit a 3 wood straight as an arrow into the tiny approach gap to the far right of the pin. I think it was my best shot of the day because I hit my ball through the little gap just 12 feet onto the green.
The important questions is how I was able to hit a clutch 3 wood with the match on the line. Believe me, I go into a different zone and when I do, good things happen. My process for hitting these important shots is three fold; Envision, Commit, and Trust. This might sound familiar (or not), but this process has never failed me when call upon.
Envision: This first step opens the possibilities to successfully completing the right shot at the right time. This step in the process forces me to look at all the possibilities. In the above example, hitting my 3 wood was one of the options as well as playing to 175 yards just short of the sand trap on the left, or playing the very safe shot of laying up to 150 yards. Part of making my decision is whether I feel I can make the clutch shot or not. In this case, I was completely confident I could make this shot because it was one I have made many times in the past. After envisioning my shot, I decide which way to play the shot, then committed to the shot.
Commit: After envisioning my shot, I now need to commit to executing my decision. I need to eliminate all the negative thoughts that would detract from me making a smooth, consistent swing. This part of my process might seem natural for most players, but committing to a particular shot is harder than it seems. If I am not 100% committed, then there is a great chance I will not execute the shot I want in the clutch. Committing to the shot is critical and is reinforced by the last step in my process…..trust.
Trust: Believe it or not, this is the most important step in my process. Over the years I have hit hundreds, if not thousands, of 3 woods in various situations. Some were awesome, some were great, some were okay and others…..well, lets not discuss those. 😉 The important part is that I focus on the awesome shots and trust I can repeat the positive results on demand. I trust that my ability to hit shots in a clutch is absolute. I trust that I can make the proper swing at the right time. I trust, I trust, I trust!
So, now what? When I step over my ball, I change nothing. I go through my established pre-shot routine, step up to the ball and hit it. I have envision, committed, and trust my ability to make the shot I need. Then, I just hit the ball.
My process of hitting clutch shots is proven and works for my game. I feel that when I use my proven process that I can make any shot under all conditions. You might be saying why I do not use this shot making process all the time and to put your minds at ease, I do. However during clutch conditions of increased pressure, I focus just a bit more on each step.
Well that is it. My process works for me and might for you. What do you think?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
4 thoughts on “Hitting A Clutch Golf Shot”
Hi Jim, your process is great. It seems like you might enjoy hitting clutch shots a bit more than other shots?
I enjoy hitting clutch shots too. The gap between my worst golf and my best golf is pretty wide so I clearly don’t concentrate enough often enough. I do concentrate for clutch shots and I have a high success rate of making great contact – but I only get the result about half the time. That’s because I tend to get a bit excited and bounce my approach shot off the back of the green or completely sail it over. Those shots are often dead on line for the pin too and look great until I realise they’re long. I might have to club down for clutch iron approaches – that or find my smoother zen swing and try not to get too excited!
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I can see how you would over club when zeroed in on a clutch shot. I try to make the same swing as any other shot, but I can tell you that it takes practice to do it. Clubbing down one is a good solution for sure. Lets us know if it works out for you.
You are right that I enjoy clutch shots and look forward to trying them during a round.
I felt pretty clutch today after hitting one out of the water. That’s something I can’t remember trying for a really long time. And never with any real success. This time though, I got it right. One of the guys caught it on tape and sent it out to the whole group via text message but it comes out so grainy there all you can really see is that it wasn’t that pretty of a swing. lol But it did work. And it was clutch, but I still missed my par. I landed the next shot right next to the flag and it bounced right off into the trap behind the green. 😂 Ya can’t win em all but it’s sure fun tryin.
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Trying unique, clutch shots like the water shot you described is fun and important. Each time we try one, we learn just a little bit more about the difficulty of the shot. Success is important, but not as much as the experience IMO. Regardless, your shot did sound fun. I can honestly say that I have never tried one.