What is your go to golf shot or club?

Hi All;

In a recent conversation with one the better players here. I was watching him hit balls and practice. He seemed really bothered with something and was extremely focused on what he was doing.

He hit like 25 balls in a row without any conversation and was going through his entire routine before each shot. He hit a few more balls and then backed away for a moment. He was so intent, you could see and feel his frustration. He was disgusted with his results, dropped his club into the bag and flipped his hand in the air as if to say go away, then he walked away for the moment. I finally looked at him and asked him if he was getting ready for a tournament.

He hung his head, looked at the ground and said no. He went on to say that he was playing earlier that day and had five extra shots that he could not justify. I asked what was going on and here is what he told me.

” I had five shots today that did not come off as expected. And in every one of them I was both hitting my go to club and my go to shot which is a low punch bullet cut shot”. This type of shot is akin to what most know as Tiger’s Stinger, but with out all the roll, and if you do it just right, you can stop the ball really quickly. So I asked him to describe each situation to me and he did. What we discovered together was that in 3 of 5 of those situations, he was in the wrong position to hit his go to shot he was using.

Now mind you I had seen him practice this shot to near perfection a number of times. This was/is the shot he uses to either get him out of trouble, or to put pressure on an opponent in the closing holes.

So why and how was he not in a position to play that shot today. Well first off he was at a golf course that does not respond favorably to that type of shot.  Having played there, I have already seen and tried it, lol.   At this particular course, more times than not if you are trying to hit this shot, one of two things happens. It either comes off bad at impact, or lands funny and stops way too short, or rebounds forward way to much.  And the reason for this are a few things that are out of the players control, i.e., the grass and ground it is prepared on.

In this situation he was playing on dormant Bermuda grass built on a clay based soil.  Here is why his shots did not respond.

  1. When they designed this golf course the designer was sneaky with his drainage techniques.
  2. This certain golf course is notorious for either retaining or shedding water off the soil surface almost the exact opposite of what you may think and how it appears.
  3. Clay soil when wet normally retains a little water on top of the surface and does not soak in as much.  This makes the top layer soggy and muddy and when the golf ball lands, it sticks quite a bit, or worse it plugs.
  4. Clay soil when dry creates a rebounding effect much the same as landing a golf ball on a cart path.
  5. If it is not cut correctly, Bermuda grass grabs the golf ball better than bounty picks up a spill or a sponge grabs water.
  6. In each of the 5 situations he hit his go to golf shot, while some of these greens were slightly raised, 3 of the greens also sloped away from the approaching shot into the green.  Hence they were receptive to high flying shots that landed at the front of the green and kicked towards the center or back.
  7. Also in each of the other five situations he was hitting them either from the first or second cut of rough.
  8. In all of the rough situations the ball came off the face with flyer lies and not enough spin.  End result was they kicked too hard when they landed, leaving him either a longer chip then he wanted or a really long putt.
  9. Because the grass was more dormant this year than most years, they were not mowing as much and this resulted the grass being longer than normal and this created both flyer lies and less roll.  And that always affects how golf shots take place.
  10. The final killer here was the fact that he was NOT hitting his go to club that he practices this shot with,  He was hitting a longer club and gripping down.  Due to the decreased loft of longer club and gripping down, this resulted in the ball coming off hotter than normal and flying farther than normal too.
  11. Longer Club + gripping down + flier lie from the rough = a de-lofted hot shot off the face with less spin.  In other words …ZOOM

The end result of all of this is, while he did have the shot he wanted, he didn’t execute it properly, what was worse was, it was at the wrong time too.  There was nothing wrong in what he did, only that he didn’t take into account ALL of the circumstances that would have resulted in a better golf shot.

When we talked about it, and I explained to him why, he just looked skyward shook his head no for a moment, laughed at himself,  then nodded yes that he understood.   The importance was that he just needed a quick refresher lesson in course management.  The challenge was graciously getting him to see where his mistake was.

He came back to me a few days later and had played the course again, this time he had changed his approach to those shots and had really good results.  He said he even went so far as to do all he could while playing, to replicate those original shots as best he could without affecting his game.  He showed me the score card and rather than having 1 par, 3 bogeys, and a double or 5 extra shots.  He now had 3 pars, 2 birdies just by adhering to what we talked about.  That’s a seven shot swing in his score.

Course management is not just about what works for you, it is also about how the designer set up the golf course for the best play.  All you have to do is, make sure you are aware of what a golf course does and it will respond favorably.  And Always Always look at the edges and slope of the green you are hitting into.  The green will tell you how it wants to, and will accept your approach shot.

Until next time, hit em long, straight, and as few times as possible.  Happy Golfing and have a great day.

Robb Nunn

PGA Professional

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