Hitting The Safe Shot In Golf

We talk about course management a fair bit at The Grateful Golf because it is a sure fire way of saving strokes. There is ample opportunity for players to shave a point here or there during a round of golf just by hitting a safe shot. What exactly does this mean ‘hitting a safe shot”? I could hit my 7-iron for the entire round and hit nothing but safe shots, but that is not really what we are talking about is it? A safe shot is one that has a higher percentage of success WITH the added bonus of reducing your score. This means that our shot choices make a difference and always hitting the same club for distance regardless of position is definitely a way to turn a possible birdie into an annoying double!

I continually search for simple explanations on how to do something in golf. Jonathan Moore’s video does just that; he explains how playing for the easier par is better than trying a difficult setup for birdie.

At Osprey Links, there are several holes that exemplify the course management strategy of making the safe shot. The one I would like to discuss is the tee shot on the 7th hole.

The aggressive line on this tee shot, as seen right, is over the corner of the pond. To carry the water is about 230 yards and is within my abilities most days. However, if I am having a great round to this point or not striking the ball as clean as I would like, then taking a less aggress line is correct safe shot.

The first safer and generally the most common shot is to the small bunker to the right of the red line. This line cuts the corner of the pond and rarely do I miss this shot. The difference between the finishing distance of the two shots is about 15 yards or one club.

If I am playing poorly, I am protecting my score, or the wind conditions make either of the above two shots very risky, I will hit to the 150 yard marker whic is located between the small circular bunker and the kidney shaped bunker on the right. Additionally, I will drop down a club to my 3 wood to add to the chances of make this safest shot.

You may be wondering why I do not hit the last shot all the time, well it has to do with setting up my next shot. I would rather hit an approach shot into the green with my PW (most aggressive shot) than a 7-iron (safest shot). This is were my course management strategy plays a critical roll on how I play this and other holes. It is not always the smartest thing to do by hitting the most aggressive shot. Sometimes we need to hit the safe shot to continue ensure we do not put up big numbers on the scorecard.

There is zero course management rules that fits how to approach shot opportunities in golf. Course management is a decision based, at the moment, skill that is developed over years of playing golf. What works for one player would be a disaster for another. The challenge is knowing what our safe shot is and when to use it. Only you can decide for yourself. I do make the safe shot many times during each round and it works out most of the time. Somedays execution of safe shots fails, but that does not reduce the need to understand and employ the right course management strategy for your game.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

6 thoughts on “Hitting The Safe Shot In Golf

  1. Dear Grateful
    Thanks for all your hard work. Since I found your blog a year ago it has become part of my morning routine. Your dedication to produce a daily blog is remarkable .
    I’m a 71 year old fat guy who took up golf a few years ago to deal with some health issues, newly available time and a need for social interaction. This past summer I found a good instructor and was able to play regularly. Your blog from last night on course management is a good example of why I look forward to your comments and ideas. Instead of just trying to make contact, I am getting a little better at making a consistent contact for my different clubs. Last night’s was a good reminder to start planning to make use of the capabilities I am trying to develop.
    Moe Norman talked about The feeling of greatness. For me it is the sometimes feeling of greatness, an incentive to keep trying.
    Looking forward to tomorrow’s ideas.


  2. Love the topic. For most of my golfing life, the aggressive approach was my predominant strategy, with of course good results sometimes, other times results were not so good.

    Today, I would say I primarily choose the safe shot. The exception would be when trailing in a match.

    Yesterday’s round was a good lesson in course management. It was cold, windy and our courses are saturated. I was playing my usual loonie match ( $1 coin) with Johnny playing our hickory clubs. Because of record rains, the rough is very thick and wet. The aggressive shot was going to get you in a lot of trouble.

    On the front nine, both of us traded holes and were tied in the match and I was six over. On the back nine, I went into full grind mode, playing it safe. After two bogeys, I parred out the last seven resulting in a win and an 80 in the tough conditions.

    We are playing today and Johnny will want to reclaim his loonie. I will have to play it safe if I want to win today as conditions are still going to be a challenge. What could possibly go wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is about course management. Taking the safe shot, taking the percentage shot, finding as little trouble as possible and managing it when we do. I don’t reach the green on that par 3 in the picture I shared even half the time. When I play, it’s generally evening and that shot is straight into the evening gulf breeze. It’s dead into the setting sun. But pulling out my fairway wood means I’m usually past the hole. And that hole slopes up and away. The land in front of it does too which is why I so often come up a little short. I’m landing on the upslope and sticking there. The ground is still too soft to provide enough bounce to go anywhere unless I hit a real bullet. But ending up just short and chipping uphill to the pin is preferable putting or chipping down hill. So I use that hybrid more often than the 4 wood. It’s the percentage play.
    I lost 50 cents tonight in our round. lol Big bucks. But I got to see 5 chips go in the hole today in our group. Two of them back to back on the same hole to keep me from getting a skin after I’d dropped one close enough to be given. It was a fun round. Lots of great shots from everyone. I don’t bother keeping score on those rounds. It’s not about score, but I dropped at least 5 birdie putts and one of those chips and still lost money. lol It was quite the round.

    Liked by 1 person

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