I played golf yesterday. I didn’t have the greatest game (I’ll tell you why later). But one shot stood out, it was truly remarkable and I’d like to tell you about it.
I’ve been playing automatically for more than a few years now. In that time I’ve reduced my handicap from about 3 or 4 to below zero (at one point my handicap reached 6, but this was due to my handicap expiring). My current handicap is plus 1.0. The best thing about playing more instinctively is that I feel I’m improving all the time. That each round gives me a new learning experience and I keep making small advancements. Golf is more fun and I never know what to expect. The best thing about this approach is that every now and then something amazing happens, it’s like magic and the result exceeds all expectations.
Yesterday I hit probably the best shot of my life. It was on my 7th hole. I was going along quite well but found my ball semi-buried in a fairway bunker 78 metres from the pin. To make matters worse the ball was right under the lip. The uphill lie gave me an advantage, but the ball was so close to the lip that I didn’t think it was possible to get it out and make the distance. I contemplated hacking the ball out sideways, but even that was going to be difficult.
To set the scene further, I had to get the ball up quickly (to clear the lip) and then fly two other fairway bunkers and a third, green side trap, that was protecting the flag stick. It wasn’t an easy shot 🙂
I surveyed the lie and the lip. I decided that I could get the ball up and out with my sand iron. This club also gave me a chance of reaching the green. My lob wedge would definitely get me out, but most likely leave me in one of the bunkers ahead. My approach requires you use your thinking brain some of the time. Thinking and analysing is part of the game. You just need to know when and how to do this so it doesn’t ruin your game! Too many golfers think when they’re over the ball. This, I believe, does not work.
I rehearsed the shot a few times to get comfortable with the awkward location. This is always a good idea when you have a difficult or important shot. I backed away from the ball, I relaxed my face, cleared my head and set the scene for auto pilot. I then walked to the ball…
I can’t remember much about being over the ball. I was fully automatic. The shot felt good, the ball cleared the lip (my biggest concern) and was sailing high towards the sky with a bunch of sand trailing behind. At first it seemed the ball would come up short, then it appeared it was long (Not the back bunker! I hadn’t even thought about that). After what seemed like an eternity the ball hit the green about 5 meters past the pin. I was relieved! I had found the green.
Then things got better. Somehow (don’t ask me how I did it) there was enough back spin on the ball to bring it closer to the hole. By the time it stopped rolling it was only a metre from the cup. I couldn’t believe it! I had some doubts that I could get the ball onto the green, I really didn’t think it was possible to hit the ball that close.
It would have been good to finish off the story by saying I made the short birdie putt. But I missed it. Not sure what happened but the little white ball refused to drop. Such is golf.
As I mentioned earlier I didn’t have the best day. I finished with 33 stableford points. I lost a ball and found the trees more than I normally do. The biggest problem was that I was under prepared. I arrived late and didn’t hit balls in the warm up net. It was raining and I didn’t have an umbrella. The automatic process is fantastic. It can help you play better golf more of the time. But if you don’t come prepared then don’t expect miracles – but it may just give you one 😉