When Playing Safe, Play Very Safe

Golf Sage - Friday, May 17, 2013

WHEN PLAYING SAFE, PLAY VERY SAFE
 
When you decide to play a shot that gets you out of trouble or avoids trouble, make sure to choose the club and shot that leaves you in a good, safe position on the golf course.
 
 
If you are in the rough, totally blocked by trees, and you decide to play the ball sideways back into the fairway, make sure you hit the ball the correct distance to position it in the center of the fairway.
 
If you are in the rough, partially blocked by trees, and you decide to play the ball back into the fairway and advance it as far as possible, make sure you don’t try for too much distance on the shot.  Your primary goal is to safely position the ball in the center of the fairway, not to advance it close to the green.
 
If you are on the tee, driving the ball to lay-up on a short and narrow par-4 or par-5, choose the club you can consistently hit straight.  It is better to drive the ball with your 3-iron, that will land in the fairway 90% of the time rather than drive the ball with your 1-iron, that will land in the fairway 75% of the time.  Your primary goal is to land the ball in the fairway and set up a birdie chance, not to hit the ball the 30 yards farther by selecting the 1-iron.

If you are laying-up your second shot on a par-5, choose the club to hit the ball to the safest, widest, or flattest part of the fairway.  Your goal is not to get as close as possible to the green.  Your goal is to safely position the ball in the best spot from which to play your third shot close to the pin. 
 
If you are hitting a shot to lay-up short of a ravine, water hazard, or bunker, choose the club and shot that safely lands the ball well short of the trouble.  It is better to hit a 4-iron 30 yards short of the trouble than try to hit a 3-iron 15 yards short of the trouble.  You will defeat your purpose of playing safe if you hit the 3-iron perfectly or from a flier lie and reach the trouble that you were trying to avoid.
 
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