Mental Mondays: Play Away From Trouble
Play Away From Trouble
A sure way to get your score down is to avoid the disastrous holes—and that means avoiding trouble altogether.
On every hole, on every shot, take a second to identify the worst potential trouble, and then plan your shot accordingly. It’s not just about where you want the ball to go on a perfectly played shot; just as important is where the ball MIGHT go if you miss.
Play away from the trouble. Taking an extra shot to avoid a hazard is better than landing in one and potentially wasting several more to get out. “No guts, no glory” is for people who don’t want to break 90 consistently, let alone 80.
Bunkers and water are obvious dangers. But so are branches, side hill lies, and deep rough. Sometimes the danger is just a shot you would prefer not to make. I hate 60 yard three quarter wedges, so I consider that range a danger area.
Hazards are all relative. Chancing a bunker by playing left is better than bringing water into play on the right. If bunkers are well groomed and consistent, it may even in some situations be preferable to be in one. At one local par 3, there’s a hole where I aim right at the greenside bunker. If I miss the green, I want to be in that bunker. A miss anywhere else results in a ball buried on a slope in deep, wedge swallowing rough.
If there’s no obvious danger on the shot you’re making, think about the danger you may be setting up for the next. While there’s absolutely no chance that you’ll reach the bunker to the right of the green, landing on that side makes it necessary on the next swing to play over a hazard that could catch your ball and force extra shots. Avoid this by playing to the left, where the fairway runs to the green.
As is the case with most of these tips, though, you need to maintain discipline—something that even the pros have a hard time doing. In the 2010 PGA Championship, broadcaster Johnny Miller criticized Bubba Watson for choosing to play a huge looping shot designed to bring his ball in over a hazard to the green. Watson failed to execute and the ball landed in the hazard, costing him an extra shot and ultimately the championship. Miller pointed out that if Watson had played ten yards less fade, the hazard would not have come into play, reducing the damage of a shot poorly played under pressure.
This tip is an excerpt from The Five Inch Course: Thinking Your Way To Better Golf. The complete book is available in Kindle format at Amazon.com.
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Mental Golf Tips