Taking Strokes To Save Strokes On The Golf Course

Golf is a game that requires any player to make a decision on when to save strokes by taking strokes. Where we drop the ball out of a penalty, whether to take take an unplayable lie, hitting a provisional or punching the ball out of deep rough all have an impact on our golf score. In some cases we need to accept our medicine to ensure we shoot the lowest score possible. I have learned through the years that taking strokes from time to time actually saves me strokes in the long run.

Serge Hitting Out Of The Rough and Saving Strokes

Last Monday I played around with my good friend Serge. We were joined by JC (a local player) and it was obvious from our first shots off the tee that it was going to be a round that might challenge out play making skills. The ground was wet, the black flies were on the hunt and my back was stiff from all the yard work. I expected to make a few poor swings and to no surprise, I did.

My friend Serge made a few as well, but he played much smarter that I did by making the right choice to limit his stroke count. I, on the other hand, just swung away hoping to make a good shot from a poor situation.

I remember playing in a tournament about 10 years ago and I was playing to make the base team. The gentlemen I had to beat was hitting the ball well and we are matching each other stroke for stroke. Then suddenly he a very poor shot off the tee into the cabbage. He had, in my opinion, an unplayable lie. His best option was to go back to the tee and rehit. He decided to make an almost impossible shot and only made his situation worse. He moved the ball a few inches and now had to take an unplayable lie. He could not go backwards and used the two club option. He was still left with a tough shot and decided not to punch out. After mishitting another shot, he chipped out and was lying 5 with 300 yards left to the green. After the dust settled, he recorded an 8 and was behind four strokes with three holes to go.

My point about my above memory is that he did not take a stroke to save three. He decided to power through a poor situation and it cost him a position on the base golf team. Unfortunately, this type of situation happens all the time on the golf course. I have learned this lesson many times over the years. Fortunately, I making better decisions now and hopefully I will continue to do so.

If you are just starting to play golf or have played to years, taking a stroke to save a stroke is a lesson that everyone should learn.

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


7 thoughts on “Taking Strokes To Save Strokes On The Golf Course

  1. “There are three specific options when taking an unplayable lie. The first option is to go back to the point from where you played your last shot. The second option is to drop your ball within two club lengths of where the ball came to rest, without moving closer to the hole. The third and final option is to take the flagstick and the point where your ball came to rest, and move back away from the hole in a straight line as far as you want. These are your only three options when your ball is in a position where you cannot make a swing, or otherwise choose to take relief.”

    You have to know the rules to make the right decision. I chose to hit the ball from a terrible lie yesterday because on that par 3, where I landed, my only two options really were play it where it lies as shot 2 or play it from the tee again as shot 3. The other two options were useless as they only brought worse conditions. The line back from the pin to the ball led to water and out of bounds woods. Two clubs lengths only brought thicker, worse lies with it. So hit 3 from 165 or hit 2 from 20 yards. I needed only 10 yards to safe ground. My lie wasn’t great, but I could see the ball, I had room to stand and it wasn’t too mushy or heavily grown there. The weeds were a foot tall but sparse where the ball was. I felt I had maybe as good as a 50/50 chance to get it at least to the short stuff and a chance of a bogie whereas hitting three from the tee box meant less the 10% chance of bogie and a higher chance at a triple. I got a double because I didn’t get out of all the trouble. I advanced it, just not far enough. And the next shot, I did the same and left a 20 foot putt for bogie which I missed. But left a tap in. On reflection I made two mistakes. My first three shots were taken without believing in them. They were taken more with just consideration that total commitment. And the second chip I should have switched clubs. I got too much height and too much stop from the sand wedge and would have been safer using the gap from that lie in the deep rough and might have given myself a better chance to save the bogie. It’s all in the choices. We don’t learn from them unless we consider and reflect. In this case, I think I was mostly likely to get a double with either choice, but I think the chances I had at saving a stroke were strongest taking the shot this time.

    Of course, that knowledge didn’t make me happier. But thankfully as I stewed on it a bit taking a water break under a tree on my way to the next hole I had a random thought cross my mind and erase any bad karma I was bringing myself. It was from an old tv show I watched in my youth. Lost in Space. The clip was the robot waving it’s arms and yelling Danger, Danger Will Robinson. I cracked up and that and the spell was broken and I birdied the next hole and was back on my game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin,

      Thanks for sharing your story. You are correct that it is all about choices. In a tournament, I would have returned to the tee and tried playing for bogey. It was the smarter option to reduce my stroke count. Each player must decide for themselves, fortunately experience helps.

      Cheers Jim


  2. Jim, great advice. For low handicap players, it’s probably better to figure out how to avoid making doubles instead of making heroic pars after a bad swing. It takes a bit of an adjustment to tell yourself bogey is a good score, but it works. Hope you are playing well!


    Liked by 1 person

      • Jim, I’m playing with a little less frequency but am maintaining good form. How? The last round that I played on my February trip, I found something while warming up. Been working the same swing thought for three months, if you can believe that, and it continues to promote more consistent ball striking. Been averaging over 10 GIR, which is historically outside my norm. Hope I can keep it up. Thanks for asking!


        Liked by 1 person

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