Learning How to Manage Bad Shots
If the most important rule of golf is to "play it where it lies,” then the most important unofficial rule of golf is “stuff happens." A bad lie, a bad break, a bad swing, a bad putt – if you play golf long enough these are all bound to happen frequently.
It’s good to have "golfer's amnesia" at times, especially when bad things happen to good players. Walter Hagen famously said that he expected to make six mistakes a round, so even the best aren't fallible.
The best approach is to forget about it and move on. But how do you not let it mess with your mind, especially if it's a hole that seems to have your number every time you play that course?
Play the hole differently. For example, tee off from a different side of the tee box and change your aim line. Start from the far left side of the tee and aim more down the right side of the fairway or green, or vice versa.
Another possibility is to use a different club off the tee. For example, let's say you are playing a par-5 hole that has a narrow fairway with numerous hazards. Play a fairway wood or hybrid off the tee instead of your driver and get the golf ball in play. Just make it a three-shot hole. Play for par and reduce the chance of making a big number.
If it's a par-3 that has your number, you can adjust the course strategy as well. If it's a long hole, you can play to the front yardage and just try and two-putt from the front. This allows you to take an easier club off the tee and have more accuracy.
If you know there's a specific hole that's been giving you fits, use your pre-round practice session and "play" the hole until you feel confident that you can successfully tackle it later.
Warm up on the range and practice the particular shots you may need on the golf hole that has your number. Get some positive swing thoughts going. The positive attitude is key and works with the idea of having “golfer’s amnesia." Try and remember your great golf shots and forget the bad ones as fast as possible.
Try these tips and lower your scores on holes that have had your number.
Until next week, keep it on the short grass!
- Charles Lostracco is the Director of Golf at the Lely Resort Golf & Country Club