Might as well start out the first Frogger Blogger Tuesday Tip with one of the biggest and best tips a golfer could ever use, PLAY WITHIN YOUR ABILITY. I should listen to my frog self too, as I could probably shave some strokes off my own game if I'd follow my own advice.
You know your game. You really do. You know how far you can hit a 7-iron. You know how high you can hit a 5-iron, really. You know how many yards you really hit your driver. So don't try to hit shots that are beyond the specs, heights, carries, distances that you really know you are capable of.
In the final round of the 2010 Masters, Phil Mickelson hit an incredible 6-iron on the par-5 13th hole. He was in the trees to the right of the fairway and the ball was on pine straw. He had to pick the ball clean off the pine straw, thread it through a small gap between two large pine trees in front of him, and carry the ball over 200 yards to reach the green. If he didn't carry it far enough, the ball would go into the hazard short of the green, a tributary of Rae's Creek. Not only did Mickelson pull off that shot, he even put a slight draw on it, causing it to land and roll toward the hole for a short eagle putt.
Some questioned whether or not that was a wise shot. But Phil knew that was within his skill level and pulled it off flawlessly. That shot helped him win the Masters.
Personally, I can't hit a 6-iron over 200 yards on the fly at sea level. I'd be lucky if the ball went 175. So there's no way I would have tried that "hero" shot. My play would have been to punch it out down the fairway to a yardage which I'd be confident for my next shot, say 120 yards so I could hit a full wedge or short iron.
You're behind a tree which is about 50 yards in front of you. If you can get a ball over this tree, the green is about a 7-iron away. The problem is that the trajectory of a 7-iron would put that ball right in the heart of the tree. The flight needed to carry the tree is more like a 9-iron or wedge.
There's no point in being a hero and trying to hit the 7-iron. The play is to put the ball back into the fairway and try to make par by getting up and down and one-putting. For the most part this still leave the possibility of making par, though the likelihood is bogey. What it reduces however, is the probability that you'll hit the tree and end up making double or triple bogey.
In this type of scenario, playing within your ability may mean playing for bogey but it also reduces the risk of a big number.
You're teeing off on a risk-reward par-5. There is a split fairway which provides a safe landing area for shorter hitters, and a less safe fairway over a lake which cuts off distance and makes the hole reachable in two. The problem with the less safe fairway shot, is that the carry is right on the edge of your ability.
Obviously the wisest and safest shot is to hit the fairway which you can easily reach within your ability. Though you may pull off a great shot by hitting the more risky choice, you have a one in ten chance of success. Odds like that in Vegas would almost never have any action.
You've just missed a green in regulation. Unfortunately for you there's a big deep bunker between you and the pin. You're on the short side too and there's a down slope running away from you. The only possible way to get the ball remotely close is to hit a full flop shot. Misplaying the flop however, would result in a near impossible bunker shot if the flop was short. Hitting the flop thin with such a full swing could send the ball over the green on the other side.
Can you do it? Should you try it? What's your choice? What are the possible outcomes from playing the flop or playing a safe chip to the fat side of the green?