“The moment the average golfer attempts to play from long grass or a bunker or from a difficult lie of any kind, he becomes a digger instead of a swinger.” – Bobby Jones
By Ian Hardie
In the post There’s no “If” in golf I told you about watching a golfer who was about to play a shot to a green – at least – that’s what they thought they were doing as
In reality they were about to attempt what I call an “If” shot
A term you might not be familiar with but certainly an “If” shot is one that you or the other golfers that you play with have probably attempted many times before
You also will realise as you read further through this that for a good golfer – there is no “If” in golf – unless of course you are doing what I suggested in this post in a practice situation
For most golfers around the world though, unfortunately their rounds are full of “If” shots that nearly always lead to big scores on the hole being played
Haven’t figured out what sort of shot I’m talking about yet?
Let me remind you of the situation the golfer I was talking about above was in:
A relatively new golfer playing on a higher than average handicap
The golfer had actually hit a pretty good tee shot of around 200 yards from the tee
That had ended up missing the fairway in the rough on the right of the par 4 hole
The golfer’s ball was slightly nestled down in the rough with about half of it showing
Just like the golf ball is sitting in the image at the start of this post
The green was around 160 yards away and the flag was, unusually for that hole
Sitting invitingly in the middle of the green, fluttering in a light right to left crosswind
Sounds easy enough you might think but there were a couple of other little problems
Firstly, there was a fairly large tree about 50 yards short of the green on the right
Which if the golfer was going to hit the ball directly to the flag from the right rough
Was on the exact line that the ball needed to travel on
Secondly, the green – as it was a fairly short par 4 hole – was guarded in front of the green
By a little creek that flowed past the left side of the green and a fairly deep sand trap
That was designed to catch any shot that was short on the right hand side of the green
In that first post I asked you to pause for a minute and make a decision using the information I had given you as to exactly what sort of shot you would attempt in that situation
So the big question is – what would your play have been?
Would you simply pull out your fairway wood, hybrid or iron – aim straight at the flag while thinking “If I can hit a really good shot, I can get out of the rough, over the tree, past the creek, over the sand trap and onto the green” - then no doubt end up making a big score on the hole or would you
Pay a bit more attention to the clues that a good golfer would be looking for!
The first of which and probably the most important one was that;
‘The ball was slightly nestled down in the rough with about half of it showing’
I’m not sure about your golf game but I do know that in the 30 years or so that I have played the game that more often than not – when about half of the golf ball is showing above the grass in the rough – it’s not very likely that a perfectly struck and high flying shot is the result from that sort of lie because as you have no doubt experienced yourself
It’s unlikely that it will allow as good a contact as you would get on the fairway right?
I’m hoping you would agree that the way the golf ball was lying in the rough alone would suggest that going for the flag in this situation for the new golfer playing on a higher than average handicap – would be a bad idea
In fact, when a golf ball is sitting that far down in the grass – a few of the tour pros in the world would be starting to think of playing an alternative shot – instead of going for the green
Yes, read that bit again as it probably surprised you – but it’s true!
The next thing that the golfer should have been paying attention to is directly related to the way the golf ball was sitting in the rough also;
‘A fairly large tree about 50 yards short of the green on the right, which if the ball was going to hit directly to the flag from the right rough, was on the exact line that the ball needed to travel on’
Think about your own experiences over the years while playing a shot from the rough – if you don’t contact your shot from the rough perfectly – which is fairly likely when the golf ball is only half showing above the grass – what are the chances of it flying
High enough or far enough to get over a large tree that is 50 yards short of the green?
The most likely outcome of trying to hit straight over the large tree from the rough as it’s been described above is something which you have no doubt experienced – hitting the large tree
Which then brings in an element of luck as to where the golf ball ends up next
As you may have observed yourself over the years – there aren’t that many lucky golfers around – but there are plenty of golfers around the world who rack up big scores on holes when they get ‘into tree trouble’
There are a couple more things that the golfer should have been paying attention to before choosing to hit the shot they did that day;
‘The green was guarded in front by a little creek that flowed past the left side of the green and a fairly deep sand trap that was designed to catch any shot that was short on the right hand side of the green’
It will come as no surprise to you that if the golfer did indeed manage to somehow get over the large tree – there was still an extremely good chance of their golf ball ending up in either the creek or the sand trap
This is due to the fact that when hitting a shot out of the rough – most of the time the longer grass around the golf ball has a tendency to have an effect on the clubface – just prior to it hitting the ball
In other words – it’s extremely unlikely that straight shot will result from that lie
A shot that went ever so slightly left of target would find the creek and a shot that went ever so slightly right would find the sand trap
When you look at the situation that the golfer was in – it certainly didn’t look even remotely like it would have been a good idea to try and hit a shot straight at the green over the big tree from that lie
Something that the golfer no doubt regretted doing afterwards………………….
If that’s something that you can recognise in your own game – I’d suggest that you look out for ‘There’s no “If” in golf – part three’ which is coming soon
In it I am going suggest something that will help you to remove the ‘If’ shot from your game forever
It’s one of the most useful ideas about the game of golf – that you will ever read