A few weeks ago, I put up a post that was secretly about the benefits of playing conservatively. This post is openly about doing the opposite.
I’m not contradicting myself. I’m just giving you something else to think about.
You’re on the course, looking over a tricky shot, and thinking, “I know I can hit that shot, but if I miss, there’s water/bunkers/OB/etc. I’d better play it safe to keep from shooting the Big Number.”
So you do, and take a Gentleman’s Bogey to the next tee, no happier, and still wondering if you should have tried that riskier shot.
Yes, you should have. You’ll never know how good you are if you never take a challenge, or if you don’t learn how to take a challenge. And most of all, you’ll never have all the fun golf can provide.
Not every shot is challenging. I’m talking about five or so shots per round. If you have the shot in your bag, accept the challenge. Play a full-sized game. Don’t go small every time.
Say you’re 80 yards from the pin, but it’s tucked behind a bunker. If you have confidence in your pitching game, don’t chicken out toward the center of the green. Play right for the pin.
That’s how you’re going to get your up and down. Regard the bunker as out of play. Forget about it. Play for down in two instead of guaranteeing down in three.
Narrow driving hole? Out comes your fairway wood or some kind of hybrid iron.
But if you have a little fade with your driver you can hit whenever you want to (and that’s not a hard shot to learn) go with the Big Dog.
Yes, sometimes you won’t pull off the challenging shot and you’ll end up with a double bogey. So? There are seventeen other holes.
Or you don’t want to play this way because bad rounds will raise your handicap. Well, the low scores you’ll shoot offset the occasional bad ones, and why do you even have a handicap anyway, when all you’re out there for is to have fun?
It comes down to this. Don’t play stupid shots. But if you know you can do it, then do it. Stretch yourself. Step out of your rut.
You become a better player by hitting shots better players hit.
And you’ll have more fun.