I was playing golf two days ago and on the last hole I hit a wayward shot to the right of the ninth green. I pushed my pitching wedge from 120 yards and found a tough third shot on the par 4. I have had a great deal of experience hitting shots from tough locations and I used this experience to hopefully save par. Fortunately, I have a simple three step process for difficult shots and it paid of in this case.
So, this is what I had to deal with:
As you can see, I did not have a direct shot to the pin and the tree was definitely a challenge. I did not sweat the whole situation because could visualize the shot before I made it. The tree was three paces from my ball, the green was 15 paces from the tree, and the pin was 7 paces on the green. The branches were hanging 5 feet off the ground. After arriving at my ball, I immediately switched into my process for hitting difficult shots.
The first is proper club selection. In this case, I chose an eight iron and played it back in my stance. The thought process was to have enough loft to get over the hump and keep it below the branches. When choosing the proper club, I like to be able to drive the ball after contact. This type of shot requires solid contact to be successful and driving the ball with the proper club is the first step to success.
Second, I pick a target to land my ball. Sometimes it is close to my original shot location and other times it is 75 yards down the fairway. Regardless of the distance, I always pick a specific target to hit too. This step is important because it sets up my entire pre-shot routine and follow through. It forces me to be confident when hitting the ball because I know where I want my ball to land.
My last step is trust! Trust my ability to make a difficult shot in challenging situations. Sometimes it does not work out, but every time I try, I trust that I can pull off any shot. I trust that I will land my ball on my target. I trust that my aim point and sight line is correct for the shot I have chosen to play. I trust all aspects of my shot making and this, in turn, gives me confidence to be successful.
Back to the shot at hand. As I said earlier, I selected an eight iron for this shot. My aim point was the white popular tree just left of the pin. My target landing area was just one yard before the green. This point will allow my ball to roll up pin high about 10 feet away. I executed my shot exactly as visualized and the results are as follows:
You can see that my ball ended up 15 feet left of the pin. The ball flight was perfect and the roll out was I expected. I set myself for a scramble par by following my simple three step process. For those who are wondering, I did make the putt for par and walked off the course shooting a 4 over par 78 for the round.
Golf is a crazy game. I like to develop processes to help me navigate the good and poor ball positions. Without these processes golf would be very challenging for me to play. It takes time to develop the methodology to play well, but when you do, great things can happen.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!