Playing Shots from Questionable Footing

To come away with a successful shot from a loose ground situation, you are going to need to make a smart decision. Being too aggressive here is only asking for trouble, and such attempts are going to wind up in disappointment more times than not. You have to know when to be aggressive in golf, and when to back off. And, to be sure, playing a shot from questionable footing is a good time to play it safe.

As you get ready to hit this kind of shot, keep the following course management techniques in mind.

  • There is more than one way to make a par. For the purposes of this point, let’s imagine for a moment that you have hit your tee shot off the fairway and into the waste area on a par four. Your ball is sitting out in a desert-like environment, with loose sand under your feet. You don’t have a terrible lie; but you don’t have a great lie, either. While it may be possible to go for the green with your second shot, the smart play is probably to lay the ball up and hope to get up and down to save your par. This is a wise move because it will greatly reduce the changes that you make a big mistake and wind up with a large number on your scorecard. Even if you don’t manage to get up and down for the par, you should still walk away with a bogey and not much damage done. Unless you are sure you can pull off the shot, playing it safe and laying up is the way to go.
  • Be cautious with forced carries. If the target you have in mind for a shot is going to require you to carry the ball over some kind of hazard, you’d be wise to think twice. Making clean contact is going to be tricky, especially if you are using a lofted club. If you can reach your target with a low shot that runs along the ground, that will be much safer than having to carry the ball over a dangerous part of the course. Only attempt a forced carry from loose ground if you have a great lie and are sure you can put the club on the back of the ball cleanly at impact.
  • Avoid over swinging. We hope this point is obvious by now, but it needs to be mentioned anyway just to highlight its importance. When standing on loose ground, you don’t want to be making an aggressive swing. Doing so is just going to take a tricky situation and make it even harder to handle. If you think that the only way to reach the green is by making a big swing, you will probably be better off looking for layup options. The risk you’ll be taking on by making an aggressive, powerful swing just isn’t worth it most of the time. Lay the ball up, get back on the grass, and move on from there.

Smart decision making is an essential part of golf, no matter where your ball happens to come to rest. It takes on extra importance in tough situations, however, such as is the case when you find loose ground somewhere on the course. By making a smart choice – which usually means playing a conservative shot – you can avoid further trouble and keep the damage on your scorecard to a minimum.