On some golf holes, trouble is simply unavoidable. There are bunkers on both sides of the fairway, the green is ringed with sand, or a huge water hazard lies between you and the target – with no place to bail out.
The vast majority of the time, however, course designers leave an escape route. Unless you’re a very skilled player – or until you become one -- this hazard-free path is nearly always your best bet.
Think about how often you face a straightforward wedge shot to the green, with a sand trap between you and the flagstick. How often do you come up short – either by mishitting or misclubbing – and dump the ball into the bunker? Entirely too often, right?
Most times, there’s simply no need to take on the trouble. If the pin is behind a hazard, look left or right and you’ll likely find nothing but grass from you to the green. Play this angle and a good shot will put you on the putting surface, while a poor one will leave you a chip or pitch – much easier than a sand shot for most golfers.
In golf, it’s important to know your limitations. Unless you hit a very high percentage of shots the right distance and direction, you’ll fare much better by steering clear of hazards. Follow the path of least resistance until you’re ready to challenge those trouble spots.