Golf is a sport of missed opportunities. Every I step up to the first tee, the shot combinations for the round seem astronomical. Like a snowflake, I have never made the same shot combinations to achieve a specific score. I think it would be impossible to hit the same shots over 18 holes, hence each round is unique as the next. Understanding that each round must be as diverse, there is one universal constant that shapes each round. The most deadly question in golf: What are the chances?
What are the chances I can keep this ball on the fairway?
What are the chances I can make this five foot putt?
What are the chances I can draw this ball into the wind?
What are the chances I can hit this ball 170 yards over the tree guarding the green?
What are the chances I can hit my ball through that feet foot gap in the trees to gain an extra 15 yards?
What are the chances I can hit this ball off the stone fence, over a creek, and land a few feet from the pin?
As you can see the questions become a bit more challenging and in some cases ridiculous! Yet, this is the thought pattern of many golfers who reach for shots beyond their abilities. They start asking crazy questions about making virtually impossible shots in the hopes that something special might occur. It is just crazy talk and yet we all do it!
Unfortunately for amateurs, the deluge of “what are the chances” questions increases exponentially as we professional golfers like Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, or Seve Ballesteros make unbelieve recovery shots. They open the door to possibilities that empower amateurs to think they can, when the success rate for is hovers around the 1% range. And yet, we think we can because we saw it happen!
Successful golf is about pushing the envelope. Unfortunately for many players, that envelope is very small because we are not prepared, nor do we have the control to make shots way, way outside our wheelhouse. I am not suggesting to never try making some amazing recovery shots because that does make golf fun. I am recommending that when asking the “what are the chances” type questions, to realistically analyze the chances of some success before adding a few strokes to your score.
Golf’s most deadly question is bane of all golfers. I has added more strokes to my game (and unfortunately still does from time to time) because I was caught up in the moment and let my non-analytical mind take over. All I can suggest the next time you start asking “what are the chances” when looking a challenging shot, keep in mind what you are actually going to gain. If you do, chances are you will shelf golf’s most deadly question and hit the smart shot that saves you strokes and a great deal of frustration!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
6 thoughts on “Golf’s Most Deadly Question: What Are The Chances?”
It takes more than luck to pull off a fantastic escape, years ago I played with a long hitting ex-pro who could escape from the woods every time. It was a skill he developed as a long hitting, wild driver of the ball. Club head upside down, backwards, left handed, back to the target, he had all the escape shots in his repertoire
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You stated the perfect argument for my discussion. The ex pro established their escape artist abilities through practice and developing this skill. Many amateurs never get to that level but press on with uber challenging shots and just add to their score.
I ask my self: what’s possible and what’s probable before the swing. Than I play as free as possible with the presence of awareness. I accept any outcome, gain insights and continue. Life is a game, golf is serious. #mindyourmindgolf.com
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Your comment is spot on. What you did right at the first was your analysis about possibilities and probabilities. That is definitely the correct first step.
Being realistic is certainly needed. And don’t just stop with that one question. Just because the answer comes back 10% doesn’t make it the wrong shot in every case. I’ve hit a few in the past that have helped make my round. And when I’m smart I’ve flubbed a few and got no real help, but no real harm either.
When Seve took the shot from under the tree, I am sure he decided that even if he failed to give it a good strike, it was still preferable to a drop. He would still end up closer to the hole than what he would get taking an unplayable. It certainly wasn’t a high percentage shot but to him at the time it was the better alternative. And that had to do with more than just him knowing how great a golfer he was. He weighed ALL the odds before attempting that shot.
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You are right about Seve, however my article is focused at players who do not have the skill required to try some extremely difficult shots. That was the point I was trying to make. Maybe I missed my mark.