Can One Shot Make Or Break Your Golf Score?

The obvious answer to this question is yes. There are many golf scores that were obliterated due to one swing of the golf club. In many, if not all, cases the total amount of damage depends on the situation and where you score is at the time. Yes, a triple bogey (or higher) when your score is hovering around par has a greater impact than if you are already 11 over. So, before jumping the Yes bandwagon, I suggest we dig a little deeper to determine if one shot really makes or breaks our golf score.

One shot into a wet bunker is not as damaging as originally thought!

Everyone has played a round of golf where a shot breaks their golf score. Personally, it has happened many times and I often wonder if is unavoidable. For example, sitting one under par on the 18th tee, then pulling my drive into the trees that results in a double bogey. The one shot into the trees was devasting at the time. After a great round, this one shot created the situation that destroyed a fantastic round. In reflection, a one over par is still a fantastic score, but the situation lessened the positive feelings of success by the thoughts of what might have been. Conversely, I have shot a birdie on the 18th hole at Osprey Links to finish with the same one over par and felt fantastic about my round. Again, this one shot and the damage it does to my golf score is situational and varies from golfer to golfer.

It is interesting how most golfers, myself included, focus on the shots that destroyed our scores and not on the shots that change the fortunes of our round. I have discussed this before, yet I cannot seem to completely change this mental rut. I wonder why this is…..maybe to make ourselves feel better or to garner some sympathy for what might have been on the scorecard.

Second Shot, 10th hole Osprey Links Golf Course

There are many opportunities to create a positive result on the scorecard on any given round. Believe it or not, I have one hole that seems to impact my score more than any others at my home course of Osprey Links. After playing the front nine, I am either in a great position to score low or need a fantastic shot to change things. Generally, it is the second shot on the par 5, 10th hole. If I hit my ball close or on the green, I am setting myself up for a birdie and the start of a great back nine. A mishit would create the situation for a disastrous score and a back nine of total grind. I think I have mentally created the situation where the second shot is my pressure shot and I better not mess it up. For interest sake, the green is located between my hands and head.

The results of the second shot does change my golf score at the end of the round. The smart play is to hit a 5 iron to 100 yards and play from there on a consistent basis, but this is one of the few par 5s I can reach in two, so……

As we play a round of golf, one shot can help or hinder our golf score. Sometimes this shot will send positive or negative waves through our mind that does directing impact or physical aspects of our golf swing. I am not sure why this is the case, but usually it is a mental thing for me. I continue to try and improve my mental focus and strength on the links; this effort is met with mixed results. Regardless, it is something I will continue to work on and I recommend you take some time to do the same thing. The end results is likely to be rewarding.

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


8 thoughts on “Can One Shot Make Or Break Your Golf Score?

  1. Its hard not to let that 1 bad shot or hole spoil the round but I have learned that it goes both ways. My best round this year started with a triple on #10 and finished -1. Keep plugging along, after the 8 on #10 I played with no expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Risk/Reward. I think in this case I would argue against laying up to a number. At least one as big as 100. Unless there are hazards up close to avoid the stats say we should get as close as we can. We’ll chip in from 10 yards short far more often than a pitch from the 100 yard layup distance. We’ll leave shorter putt’s bringing more birdies too. And have fewer 3 putts. Statistically it’s a big stroke saver. So maybe instead of a 5 iron, an easy 5 wood would be the better option. More loft, straighter flight, less chance for error the the 3 wood yet still enough to get you close enough to scare the hole more often. Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin,

      A 5 wood is a good option, but I do not carry one. I thinking a 3 hybrid will be a good substitute. I agree without that closer is better, but I still do not have my mind wrapped around the fake challenges I am creating in my mind. Thanks for the advice.

      Cheers Jim


  3. There is a lot to think about in your post. Every shot has an impact on your golf game, positive or negative.

    Every golfer tees it up on the first hole hoping they are going to play well. Then reality sets in and we are faced with the ups and downs which happen every round. Most players eagerly accept the good shots as well as the lucky bounces that can have a positive impact on their score but find it difficult to accept when a bad swing or bad bounce has a negative impact. It is easy to get down on ourselves when bad shots rear their ugly head or get overconfident if things are going well. Both scenarios can end up leading to disappointment and not making the best of a round.

    My attitude is that each round is a new journey. My focus needs to be on the next shot, putting whatever has happened out of my mind as best I can. I don’t obsess the score during the round, I try and concentrate on the next shot and keeping an even keel emotionally results in better outcomes. I have found that this approach leads to better scores and reduces frustration.

    Your challenge with the tenth hole happens to all of us. All decent golfers make more birdies on par fives in my experience and have a tendency to think birdie on the tee blocks. The temptation to force a shot to get home in two can result in disaster when playing smarter usually takes the big number out of play. I don’t think birdie until the putter is in my hand.

    Accepting that even in a good round there will be ups and downs is important to enjoying the game and making the best score possible on that day. In your example, 71 is a good score regardless of whether a double was scored early or late in the round. Second guessing what could have been is pointless because you can’t change what has happened.

    Today was my 172nd game of the year and the 107th with my hickory clubs from the 1920’s. It was the last Hickory Friday of the year. My friend Johnny and I had our usual high stakes loonie match (Canadian $1 coin) which has produced great games all year. When either of us lost a hole, we sucked it up and played harder. No one had more than a one up lead and there were several lead changes. I tied the match on the par five sixteenth and we ended up tied through eighteen which was the right outcome, no one deserved to lose today. We did not let the cold, wind, or a bad hole get us down, that is golf.

    Does one shot make or break your score? I don’t believe it does, but it might cost you a loonie 😀😀😀.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lorne,

      You make me laugh. I enjoy reading your perspectives on most topics. I agree that looking at the what might have been is the wrong attitude, but I cannot seem to help myself. I guess I chalk it up to being competitive. I played half the number of games as you and felt I did great. Congrats on playing so much.

      Cheers Jim


  4. Jim, a lot to unpack here. The double can pop up anytime so you need to adjust your perspective. What if you doubled #1 and played the remaining holes 1-under? Great round of 1-over par; same score. A home run in the first inning counts the same as one in the ninth. On the second shot on #10, this is a rut hole. The more you play it, the more it affects you. It’s at your home course so it requires less thinking leaving your mind to fill the course management gap with worry. I’p probably play for the fattest landing area and try for birdie with a full wedge.

    Good luck!



    • Brian,

      Perspective is everything for sure on the one shot. The deeper in the round definitely has more of an impact that the first few holes. I will have to agree with you there. As far as the 10th hole, I have tried your approach and found that it made no difference. I think I might try hitting 3 – 6 irons next time. See if the change in positioning really makes a difference.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

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