Originally Posted by Tom Shanks
A few months ago me and my buddy ended up in bunkers on the right side of a par 5 dogleg left. There's about 320 left and my buddy can't even get a straight shot to the fairway unless he hits an 8 iron or so. The lip lowers drastically on the left side, to the point where its almost level with the grass. He grabs a driver, aims about 80 yards left of the 150 stick and cuts it onto the fairway with 110 left in. I'm in the forward bunker and there's a 50/50 chance I can't clear the lip with a 3 wood. I go for it and put it around 105 and we both make par.
Could we have played it safe and still made par? Yes. Could our shot selection made us both end up with 8's on the hole. Of course.......but I'll remember those pars for the rest of my life.
But you could have hit a couple of 6 irons and been in the same position, without the risk. 7 times out of 10 you'll make the big number thinking like you did, especially when there was no possibility of reaching the green, but a very good possibility of leaving the ball in the bunker for your next shot. It may seem good to you but you have to admit that it was actually a pretty silly decision when it comes right down to it. It would be different if the distance was 220 instead of 320. A guy who can't hit a mid iron reliably and he plays driver from the bunker??? I'm one of the very few people I know who can even play a driver from the fairway, and I wouldn't consider it from a bunker unless it was hardpan with no sand - even then I'm not likely to try a driver unless it's a shot that I need in a close match.
The longest par 4 on my home course is 450 yards, with 3 fairway bunkers on the right side starting at about 230 yards from the hole. I've seen a lot of guys go for the green from that farthest bunker in the last 20 years, but I've never seen one make it. Like the one you describe, it's virtually a zero percentage shot for anyone who isn't a low single digit handicap. When I'm in that bunker, I play a 5I or 6I and go for the nearly sure bogey with the same chance at par as the guys who play a 3W or 5W. I almost never make worse than a double.
I guess you do what's fun for you, but for me, shooting the lowest score I can as often as I can is more important than making a memorable shot that will more often result in disaster than success. I've made a lot of eagles in my life, but only when the potential risk was less than the reward, and certainly only when the shot was actually possible to pull off. Lacking that condition, I lay back and wait for the next opportunity. I didn't start shooting low 80's and occasional 70's until I learned how to temper my aggression with patience.