Personal records drive golfers to succeed. Setting a goal of breaking 90 for the first time or chopping two strokes from your golf handicap compels us to work hard, practice smart, and stay focused. It also compels use to think differently when facing difficult shots. We continually find ourselves asking the question: What’s the best shot in this situation? When it’s all over, you want to know if you’re playing the right shot at critical times in the round.
One way to do that is to develop “go-to” shots for difficult situations, like hitting from behind a tree. We’ve talked about how go-to shots can help golfers in my golf tips newsletter. Using them in key situations harnesses your ability and takes advantage of your on the course strengths. More important, it lets you control the situation rather than letting the situation control you. To capitalize on this approach, you must develop an arsenal of shots you can use in the clutch. Below we discuss go-to shots in three key situations.
On A Tight Fairway
Hitting a good drive to a tight fairway, as I’ve said in my golf tips newsletter, is a great way to a comeback. A good drive here is at least 200 yards in the fairway. Candidates for a go-to shot are the full swing driver, the 3-wood, and the hybrid fade. You must be able to hit the fairway with this shot about 80 percent of the time. Pulling off the full swing driver leaves a short iron to the green, but the average golfer misses this shot 50 percent of the time. The 3-wood offers less distance but finds the fairway 15 percent more often than the driver. The hybrid fade finds the fairway more than the 3-wood, but requires a longer second shot to the green. Choose wisely.
Short Shots To The Green
Another critical situation where you need a go-to shot is about 100 yards out. Having a go-to shot is here key if “disaster” areas guard the green. You need a go-to shot that avoids all the trouble around the green. Candidates are the one-third 5-iron swing, otherwise known as the bump-and-run, and the full swing wedge. The full wedge shot puts your close to the hole, but if you miss it, you’re toast. The bump-and run won’t get your as close as the wedge, but, it’s easier to hit than the full wedge, With good contact, this shot will give you 60 yards of carry and 30 yards of roll.
Pitches To The Green Over Water
You need this shot when you’re about 30 yards to the green and there’s water (or another obstacle) between you and the pin. You need to be ale to hit the shot successfully 90 percent of the time for it to be considered a go-to shot. The idea is to land the shot on the green and leave it within 2-putt range nine out of 10 times you hit the shot, as I tell students in golf instruction sessions. Candidates are the lob wedge pitch, the standard pitch, and the chip with a putter. A well-executed lob wedge pitch leaves you with a tap-in, but mis-hitting it lands you in the water. The standard pitch to either side takes the water out of play. It’s easier to hit, but probably won’t leave you close to the hole. The chip with a putter is just what the name says: a chip shot using your putter. This shot isn’t taught in golf lessons much, but it’s safe and can put you within two-putt range.
Continue this approach for all the critical areas of your game. Then, work on developing go-to shots for the areas. Determine the shot candidates, see which one you hit best, and work on perfecting it. Once you’ve done that for the critical areas of your game, you can attack courses with aggressiveness and confidence. Remember, your go-to shot is always your safest. It’s the shot you hit best in a given situation, so it could be the riskiest. You’ll be surprised at the impact on your golf handicap.