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Beachcomber

What's the hardest shot in golf?

57 posts in this topic

I played a round yesterday, and had several tight lies out of low lying areas aka 'hard pan' where grass was not growing... Pitching to the green or green side from 10 to 30yds.  For me, this is the hardest shot to hit in golf.  One where you don't want to scald it across the green, but you know you need to pick it cleanly so the blade doesn't bounce up and mishit the ball.  Somehow you have to pick the ball clean such that it emits spin, so the ball has a chance to check up near the hole.  This shot is my nemesis in golf and got me thinking... What is the hardest shot in golf from your perspective?  Also, how do you play the hardest shot in golf?

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To paraphrase Lee Travino..... .......a 4 foot putt for $5, when you only have $2 in your wallet!
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Originally Posted by Beachcomber

I played a round yesterday, and had several tight lies out of low lying areas aka 'hard pan' where grass was not growing... Pitching to the green or green side from 10 to 30yds.  For me, this is the hardest shot to hit in golf.  One where you don't want to scald it across the green, but you know you need to pick it cleanly so the blade doesn't bounce up and mishit the ball.  Somehow you have to pick the ball clean such that it emits spin, so the ball has a chance to check up near the hole.  This shot is my nemesis in golf and got me thinking... What is the hardest shot in golf from your perspective?  Also, how do you play the hardest shot in golf?

For me it's just the opposite.  Playing a short pitch from a soft, almost muddy lie is much more difficult.  All it takes is the slightest bit of a miss hit with a wedge and the ball goes nowhere or it's skulled across the green.  As to how I play it.... usually rather poorly. I try to make a shot selection that will get the ball somewhere on the putting surface.  That might be a very different shot than what I'd do from a more normal lie - more likely to try a chip with a 7I or 8I, even if a wedge would be the normal choice.

I don't have any trouble at all playing the shot you describe, because all I try to do is play a trap chip with my 51 degree gap wedge.  I don't worry about trying to spin it.  If I'm short sided then I take my punishment, and if I have green to work with I let the ball roll out toward the hole.  I may have an advantage too because I've played winter golf in Colorado for many years, and tight lies on dry or frozen ground are the norm, and you are also hitting to a frozen green, so it adds to the complexity of the shot.

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Originally Posted by Fourputt

For me it's just the opposite.  Playing a short pitch from a soft, almost muddy lie is much more difficult.  All it takes is the slightest bit of a miss hit with a wedge and the ball goes nowhere or it's skulled across the green.  As to how I play it.... usually rather poorly.

Lee Westwood doesn't like the high draw.

I hate the mud.

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The hardest shot is one where the club I'd prefer is in the car or another bag (a 50 yard pitch off hard pan to a tucked pin over a bunker that gets a lot of play when I don't have my 60 degree wedge with me). I'd probably aim somewhere else on the green or take my chances putting it in the bunker.

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I have 2 nemesis shots: a tee shot where anything other than a solid drive simply won't give you a shot at reaching (about 480+yards in my case), or a fairway with a very tight dogleg or multiple doglegs requiring both an accurate yardage and a certain shape to give you a shot at the green.

The driver is a problem for me, especially on holes into the wind. It just puts a lot of pressure on a club I hit like crap 90% of the time and I know I'm leaving yards on the table. Luckily I hit my long irons very well, preferring my 3 iron on most holes, and it often gives me a wedge into the green on par 4s anyway. I don't mind hitting it off the deck either, but the math just doesn't add up on really long holes like par 5s. When I have more confidence in my 1 iron and 3 iron than my driver, being forced to use my driver due to distance is an issue. If it's a wide open hole and the driver can't hurt me, it doesn't bother me. I can get 240ish even if I hit it poorly, but I might get a solid one to carry 260+ or get some decent roll. That means I might have a longer iron into the green, but I still don't need to lay up or try to force an iron farther than it ought to go. I can easily hit my 3 iron 220 in the air with a few yards of roll, straighter than any of my other long clubs oddly enough. But that's about the longest shot I have in the bag right now. I hate this shot more as a reflection of hating my equipment than anything.

There's a 9 hole course near me with a 90 degree left turn about 200 from the tee, with about 180-200 more to the pin from there, depending on your position. And I've been in the left woods before; it ain't pretty. And it's really tough to hit the 50 yard deep green that slopes away from you into a dropoff. Not to mention the mini valley of sin before the green, and the speedy surface. Fun hole though. Tough one to make par, let alone reach in regulation. This hole is actually worse from the white tees for me, because it requires about 160 off the tee followed by a tough 190... Hitting more club on approach than the tee is a good way to crush a golfer's soul. It's honestly not bad for me because I'm both long with my irons and hit my longer irons well. Most players would take a fairway wood off the tee and maybe another or a hybrid into the green on this hole, where I'm hitting a 5 or 6 iron that I'm confident in. It's just annoying that I can't take a club I really like off the tee and everyone's first shot ends up in the same spot.

Another shot worth mentioning is the one through a tree. Whether it's a big shape or threading a shot through a gap, I always convince myself I have a shot, I usually manage OK, but it's really hard and requires an element of luck at times. I can often land the ball where I want, but when there's an obstacle 10 yards ahead of you it can jack with your brain because you can't get away with even the smallest error in shot shape. Plus the first 30 or so yards of my ball flight are the part I'm least familiar with. It takes some guts to pull that sort of shot off. Missing this shot by 6 inches is often worse than missing the green by 10 yards. And you could hit a perfect shot that gets knocked down by a branch.

Water/forced carries don't bother me much because I just take an aggressive low shot in these circumstances and often make better contact as a result. I don't mess around with OB though. Major uphill and downhill approaches aren't a big deal for me because I accept they won't be great shots in all likelihood rather than try to overplay them. They're tough but not overly penalizing in most cases. I often thrive on difficult shots personally, and often see my playing partners get in trouble from them; it's partially because I focus more and have a different objective than usual.

As for hardpan, just don't be afraid of it. Get an old wedge or something and hit shots off a plank or some hard dirt somewhere, just to teach you to accept the bad feedback and focus on good mechanics. I guarantee if you try to make the shot feel less bad, you'll mishit it. Just hit it aggressively and accelerate, best thing to do to overcome the vibration is just to either not hit into the stuff in the first place or to try to make the ground give instead of your hands. It's hard to hit a nice feeling shot off the stuff, but you can still hit good ones. Also consider using a low lofted club, one with less bounce, or a putter if possible. Finally, don't worry too much about spinning it or hitting it high and soft, just play what shot you can to a flat part of the green unless you're feeling confident.

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i dislike the short chip from thick rough on a downhill green.  you can be 10' away from the hole but unable to putt, and your chip can put you 30' away if you don't hit it perfectly.  i can't think of many other shots in golf that have absolutely no margin for error other than that one.

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Originally Posted by Fourputt

For me it's just the opposite.  Playing a short pitch from a soft, almost muddy lie is much more difficult.  All it takes is the slightest bit of a miss hit with a wedge and the ball goes nowhere or it's skulled across the green.  As to how I play it.... usually rather poorly.  I try to make a shot selection that will get the ball somewhere on the putting surface.  That might be a very different shot than what I'd do from a more normal lie - more likely to try a chip with a 7I or 8I, even if a wedge would be the normal choice.

I don't have any trouble at all playing the shot you describe, because all I try to do is play a trap chip with my 51 degree gap wedge.  I don't worry about trying to spin it.  If I'm short sided then I take my punishment, and if I have green to work with I let the ball roll out toward the hole.  I may have an advantage too because I've played winter golf in Colorado for many years, and tight lies on dry or frozen ground are the norm, and you are also hitting to a frozen green, so it adds to the complexity of the shot.

The muddy lie - I don't mind because then I feel like I can just use my bounce moreso and accelerate through the ball without worrying about the club bouncing back up.  The key is acceleration.  But with the hard pan... I worry about the club bouncing up.

And when I'm on the hard pan - I hit that trap chip - with a forward shaft lean... But I must stink because I can never get it to check up and end anywhere near the hole.  It's always zooming across the putting surface leaving me with a monster putt - or often times chipping again as the ball runs through the green.

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Originally Posted by tuffluck

i dislike the short chip from thick rough on a downhill green.  you can be 10' away from the hole but unable to putt, and your chip can put you 30' away if you don't hit it perfectly.  i can't think of many other shots in golf that have absolutely no margin for error other than that one.

That is a hard one too... But I use the belly chip on those and it seems to work for the most part.

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My hardest shot and probably difficult for most people is a shot out of a green side bunker (where you can't control the spin) and have to land it on a down sloped green.

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I'd also include the 10-12 foot putt with zero break. Much better at hitting to a spot when there's even an inch or two of break. That one's a mental thing.

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Ball being held by a few blades of grass on the top edge of an upsloping sandtrap next to the green... No way to get good contact, so I had to run up the slope and skull it to get it on the green...
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Originally Posted by Beachcomber

The muddy lie - I don't mind because then I feel like I can just use my bounce moreso and accelerate through the ball without worrying about the club bouncing back up.  The key is acceleration.  But with the hard pan... I worry about the club bouncing up.

And when I'm on the hard pan - I hit that trap chip - with a forward shaft lean... But I must stink because I can never get it to check up and end anywhere near the hole.  It's always zooming across the putting surface leaving me with a monster putt - or often times chipping again as the ball runs through the green.

Take your normal setup and then try and drive the club down on a spot about 3 inches behind the ball and fully release the club like you would on the normal shot.  Trust me it will spin!!  The harpan lie is a fact of life on the desert courses out here so we either learn to play them or give up 4 or 5 shots a round otherwise.  The object on hardpan is to hit down on the shot because it's actually like hitting of those crappy rubber driving range mats....you can hit 3 inches behind it and still pull off the shot.  Fluffy lies from the desert are played just like a fairway bunker shot.

The shot that I'm not a fan of is the fried egg lie in the rough downhill to a shortsided pin...No chance at all to get up and down....cost me 10 bucks!

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The under 50 yard pitches I end up with from either a overcooked layup or poor club choice off the tee kills me.  Anything longer I can make a 3/4 60 degree pretty handily

Every damned time I end up decellerating and catching it fat.

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190 yard approach shot to a small, fast, well-protected green - anything longer and I might get smart and lay up.

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Originally Posted by tuffluck

i dislike the short chip from thick rough on a downhill green.  you can be 10' away from the hole but unable to putt, and your chip can put you 30' away if you don't hit it perfectly.  i can't think of many other shots in golf that have absolutely no margin for error other than that one.

Agreed.

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