Every time you finish a round, I bet you can think back to one or two shots you wish you could do over.
I frequently hear golfer’s stories about their rounds. Many times, I have heard stories like this: “If I hadn’t chunked my pitch shot into the bunker on number 12, I would have shot 5 shots better. After I chunked that shot into the bunker, I bladed my next into the bunker on the other side of the green. Then, it took me two shots to get out of that bunker and I was so mad, I three-putted and made a 10. If I hadn’t chunked that first pitch shot into the bunker, I would have shot my best score ever!”
When I hear a golfer complain about his execution of a shot, my first question is this: Was it the golfer’s choice of shot that was to blame for his poor execution? I have a good rule of thumb when I play golf: If I don’t feel like I can perform a shot successfully 99% of the time in practice, I will not try it in competition. Of course there are always exceptions to this rule: Like when I need to hole a shot to tie my opponent in match play, or if the situation offers no other option but to hit a shot that I am not comfortable with.
However, no matter what your skill level, there is almost always an option that you know you can perform. Sometimes that option may not be very fun because it may seem to take an extra stroke, but it is definitely worth it when you consider all of the bad things that can happen when you try a shot you are not comfortable with.
In the example above, the golfer was a 20 handicap who only gets to play once a week. His mistake was trying to hit a shot he was not sure he could pull off. Pitching over a bunker to a narrow slice of green with another bunker beyond, was not a shot he knew he could hit successfully 99% of the time. In the future when faced with this shot, I hope he chooses to pitch the ball onto the middle of the green and leave himself a 30 foot putt for a 4.