I was playing golf the other day when low and behold I found myself in position that I needed to talk out my possibilities for my next shot. At a moment or two of this process, I actually talked out loud to myself in hopes that the best solution would pop into my head. Before moving forward, my score was not a factor because I was having a mediocre round at best, so a few more strokes would not matter, hence my options increase significantly. My process always boils down to risk/reward regardless of the multitude of factors that my influence my shot.
My shot was similar to one I had in the past (as seen the image left). The only differences were I was closer to the two gap between the trees and the sand was long grass.
As I looked at the shot, I noticed that the wind was slight from left to right, my lie was decent enough but not fluffy, the distance the to pin was 175 yards (therefore reachable); the pin was basically tucked behind the right tree; and my green was not protected in anyway in the front but was elevated by a couple of feet.
As I talked through my options, I could hit a 5-ron as long as I hit it high enough to miss the low hanging branches and stay left of the green; a 4 hybrid and try to run the ball up under the branches and hope that it cuts a bit or I receive a ground slice to the green; play a shorter iron and leave myself a 30 or 40 yard chip; lastly, try to cut a 5-iron around the tree (which is a very difficult shot for me).
All these options have a positive side and a negative side. As I stated before the risk/reward tenet drives most shots, so hitting a shorter iron to 30 or 40 yards was the safest shot and I would likely select that one during a stroke event. In this case, I decided to use the experience as a learning situation and hit something completely different.
I selected my 3 hybrid and played it back in my stance in order to hit my ball below the branches with enough power to run my ball up to the green. I chose to hit the longer club because I would not have to swing as hard, thus giving me a greater sense of control during contact. This was the more aggressive shot and I decided that if I was ever in a match play event, it is a shot that might come in handy.
I actually set my shot up as I suggested and open the club face slightly in order to promote a cut. I aimed a bit left of my normal target line in order to account for the open angle of my club face. I took a 3/4 swing and ensured I kept my head down during contact. Well, the result was with mixed success. My ball stayed below the branches and ran up towards the green nicely. Unfortunately, I over cooked the slice and ended up right in a green side bunker. I was not overly disappointed, but staying short of the bunker would have been better.
Throughout this entire process, I was talking to myself ensuring that completed each part of the process in order to ‘make’ the desired shot. At one point, tried to suggest to myself to change my grip position and that was just crazy talk. Trying to adjust my shot only allows for so many changes and the grip would have been one bridge too far! All players have a limit to the number of adjustments they can comfortably make for any shot and I had reached mine.
If you were wondering, I did not get up and down and walked away with a bogey. This score was the expected one considering where my position for my second shot. Sometimes, we are successful and will walk away with a par or less, but more often than not it is a higher score. Regardless, the above shot was definitely fun and interesting. Talking through my process (either aloud or in my head) helps me weigh all the factors that influence the shot. In this case, I went out on a limb, avoided my crazy talk, and turned a challenging shot into a great learning experience. This is all part of my golf journey.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!