Play your own game


One of the worst things that happened to my golf game was covering golf for a living. I remember hearing Tiger Woods talking about his favorite 2-yard draw at St. Andrews in 2000 on his way to a dominating victory. After that, I spent the rest of the summer trying to hit 2-yard draws at every golf course in Chicago. Some of those shots turned into 25-yard hooks that kept window repair shops busy from Schaumburg to Sheboygan.

The bottom line is that every golfer sees the game differently. Just because it was the right shot for Tiger did not mean it was the right shot for me. I never saw the game in 2-yard draws. It takes time to change the way you see the golf course to feel confident over a shot you don’t always hit.

I bring this up because of some conversations I have had with players and caddies who were involved in The Great Lay-Up Controversy of 2K10. Yes, Michael Sim, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, and Tim Clark all laid up on par 5s at critical times late in the final round while trying to earn PGA Tour victory No. 1. All are still looking for that first victory, with many of our analysts suggesting that the decision to lay up was one of the key reasons.

From my conversations, the common thread in the decisions to lay up was that the player had a vision in his mind of how to play the hole. If that meant Clark saw the best way to make birdie on the 18th at the Bob Hope was to rely on solid wedge play to guarantee himself a birdie putt to tie, or Fowler making a similar decision at TPC Scottsdale, then that is how the player would execute the strategy. As you notice in all those occasions, there was no hesitance with the player second-guessing his own decision. Each saw the golf course and how his game fit that course, and acted decisively to execute that vision.

Was that vision the right way to approach the game? If any of these players had made birdie executing his decision, maybe we are all singing a different tune. Bobby Jones once said about a young Jack Nicklaus, “He plays a game with which I am not familiar”. Part of that is because even great players can see the game in a different way. It seems to me the best way to play the game is to play it as it lies…and play the game how you see it best.