Get out of Jail
I want to give you all a get out of jail free card, but you’re going to need to know when to use it.
One of the greatest downfalls of golfers is that they don’t know how to get out of jail. It’s not a place you want to be, and you need to get out in the right way. Unfortunately, some golfers don’t even know that they’re in jail!
The problem is that most of us are stubborn, and don’t want to accept our sentences. We want to make a spectacular escape just like in Shawshank Redemption. Because of this, we often take major gambles that result in us staying in our cells for longer than we should have.
Alright…I’ll stop with my jail metaphor and get down to specifics. I admit I was trying to be a little too clever there.
This is what jail looks like on the golf course:
- Stuck the trees, with a very narrow opening to advance the ball to the green
- Your ball in a fairway bunker about 10 feet away from a steep lip
- A terrible lie in the rough, and you are facing a difficult green to reach
The list goes on and on, but hopefully you get the point. Being in jail is essentially when we walk up to our ball and mutter #@%$ to ourselves.
You have two options when you’re in jail. Option 1 is to take your medicine and get the ball back to safety, which may only be a few yards away. Option 2 is when you convince yourself you have the skill to pull off the incredible shot necessary to hit the green. Please don’t pick Option 2.
I have picked Option 2 so many times throughout my golfing career, and have seen many golfers do the same. It generally does not work out well. Most times you will end up in a worse spot than you originally were, and now you’re in double/triple bogey territory. You are extending your stay in jail because you are not accepting reality.
Don’t be like the pros
I like to talk about pro golf a lot because I know most casual golfers watch them on TV. There is much we can learn from the pros, but unfortunately there are also things we should not be trying to emulate either. This is one area where I think we should stay away from what they do.
How many tournaments have we seen a guy stuck in the trees, moving the crowd around because he sees a sliver of an opening he can thread the ball through (it’s usually Phil Mickelson). David Feherty is on the scene giving a dramatic explanation. He exclaims that he has no shot, and that it’s impossible. He’s dead to rights! Almost every time the guy pulls it off, and we’re all in awe of what he just did.
What they didn’t show is the 20-30 other golfers that day who were at the bottom of the leaderboard who were knocking it off of trees in an attempt to make some extra money. Those poor guys did not escape jail.
Pick Option 1
Option 1 is the smarter decision, and will lead to better scoring on average. The quickest way to destroy a round is by not realizing you are in jail, and convincing yourself you can pull off a shot that you have about a 5-10% chance of executing. You have got to play the higher percentages if you want to become a better golfer. This can be the difference of shooting a 95 or an 85.
Ten strokes sounds a little dramatic, but let me explain why. Let’s say you were in jail on the 6th hole. You had that really nasty lie in the rough, but you decided to muscle up and try to drill a 5 iron at the green. The rough grabbed the clubhead at impact, and caused you to pull the shot very badly out of bounds. Your round might have been going very well up until that point, but it was that one decision that prevented you from shooting 85. You went on to make triple bogey, and your momentum was completely stifled.
There are two things I want you to take away from this article:
1) Start realizing when you are in jail.
2) Do not fool yourself into thinking you have the ability to pull off very difficult shots to escape jail.
I have given you the Get Out of Jail Free card, please use it now! In other articles I’m going to discuss some specific shots you need to work on in order to make your escape a safe one.
Just make sure you don’t drop the soap when you’re in jail
James Heerwagen says
For me the operative concept is the nasty unraveling.
As in “AND YOUR MOMENTUM WAS COMPLETELY STIFLED.”
The probable result from attempted hero shot crushes positive vibrations of the round.
Those vibes are replaced by a foggy disappointment, fear? etc .. that creep into the moment before takeaway on next shots.
Even chips, putts.
And that’s how I go from breaking 80 — to a double-bogey powered round.
Can also apply this “emotion exponent effect” to the expected value outcomes associated w your pin seeking, going for the angle, etc… concepts.
These flawed strategies make me feel bad and play worse, too.
“…you decided to muscle up and try to drill a 5 iron at the green. The rough grabbed the clubhead at impact, and caused you to pull the shot very badly out of bounds. Your round might have been going very well up until that point, but it was that one decision that prevented you from shooting 85. You went on to make triple bogey, AND YOUR MOMENTUM WAS COMPLETELY STIFLED.”