Ever wonder what’s the toughest shot in golf? Candidates abound. There’s the restricted swing, the controlled fade, and the feet inside/ball outside fairway bunker shot, as well as the ball in the rough on an upslope, the double breaking putt, and the traditional flop shot. Truth is, every one has his or her own set of tough shots. You may have covered them in golf lessons or read about them in golf tips, but you still can’t hit them. They intimidate you and add strokes to your golf handicap. Below are my candidates for the five toughest shots in golf. See if you agree.
Some players consider driver off the deck the toughest shot in golf. Many golfers never use this shot. The just read about it in golf tips. But in the right situation, it can help. The problem is your driver has the least amount of loft, so it’s hard getting the ball in the air. If you hit up on the ball, you’ll probably mis-hit. The only way to get the ball in the air is to cut the shot. Play the ball off your front heel and aim 15 yards left of your target (right for left-handers). Then swing across the ball, instead of down on it. Feel like you’re pulling your right hand toward you’re left hip on the way down.
The Plugged Bunker Lie
Other players consider the plugged bunker lie the toughest shot in golf. It’s certainly a candidate. Since you’re ball is buried in the sand, you can’t hit the typical sand blast you learned in golf lessons. There’s too much sand. Instead, come down hard into the impact zone. You should feel like you’re jamming the heel of the club into the bunker with the toe pointed at the sky. If you keep your hands low to the ground through impact, you’ll create an explosion big enough to unplug the ball and escape the bunker.
Then there’s the severe downslope from the rough. The hill’s slope moves the bottom of your swing arc back, making it easy to catch the ball fat or thin. The rough compounds any errors you make. Set your body level with the lie by tilting your torso to the left (right for left-handers) until your front shoulder sits lower than your back shoulder. Now swing. Don’t hang back to fight the pull of gravity. Doing that moves your swing arc back even farther and makes missing the ball a real possibility. This shot isn’t always addressed in golf instruction sessions, but it’s so tough maybe it should be.
One of Two Bunker Shots
For my money, the toughest shot in golf comes down to one of two shots. The bunker blast from a downhill lie is one. You have to hit the ball high to get it out of the bunker, which is difficult because the slope negates the club’s loft. The secret to hitting this shot is to take a wider stance than normal for balance and then align your shoulders with the slope. Now open your clubface and make your normal bunker swing. Don’t try to swing too hard or get under the ball too much. The ball will come out lower and with extra roll.
My other candidate for the toughest shot in golf is the feet outside, ball inside bunker shot. This is one tough shot, not only for weekend golfers but also for pro players. Almost anything can happen. Spread your feet wider than shoulder width and position the ball just inside your front foot. Also, bend your knees and rear end down more, so you can get down to the ball. Hinge your wrists quickly when you swing and keep your body quiet for balance. The steeper the slope the more the ball will go right (left for left-handers).
What matters here isn’t which shot is the toughest, but how you handle a tough shot. Don’t let it intimidate you. When it does, you tense up and forget the keys to hitting the shot correctly. Next time you face a tough shot, relax. Run through the keys you learned in golf lessons or read about in golf tips, and then swing away. And remember, you don’t always have to put the ball a foot from the cup. Be realistic with your expectations. You’ll conquer more tough shots that way and knock strokes off your golf handicap in the process.