If you were watching the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club over the weekend, you may have caught Phil Mickelson hitting a wedge off the famous par-3 sixth green.
The distinctive feature of that green is a pot bunker that's right in the middle of it.
Mickelson's tee shot settled on the left side of the green on Saturday. The issue? The hole was cut on the right side, which meant that the bunker came between Mickelson's ball and the hole.
Rather than putt around the bunker -- c'mon, like Lefty was ever going to do that -- Mickelson opted to hit a wedge shot over the bunker, which he executed beautifully, and got the ball to stop within five feet of the hole.
Seeing Mickelson's choice of shot selection got us thinking... of five shots that average golfers can hit, but should never attempt.
So here it is...
5. A chip shot off the putting surface. Superintendents everywhere cringe even when the best players in the world grab a wedge to hit off their perfectly manicured greens. Imagine what must be going through their collective minds when/if they see us opt for a wedge on the green. Chances are they're screaming, "don't do it!" if they're within shouting distance.
It's perfectly legal to use any club for any stroke. So, hypothetically, there's nothing wrong if you decide the best play is to chip on the green. Maybe you have a severely breaking putt that has to travel through an elbow of fringe and you think chipping over it is the more prudent play. You're entitled to go that route. However, if it isn't during a competition, it's one of those unwritten rules where it's not illegal, but it is frowned upon.
There's no reason to risk putting a divot in the green if you're not playing for something. And a $5 Nassau doesn't count.
Furthermore, using a putter from any situation on the green is typically a smarter play for most of us. Since the lie on a green is going to be so tight, you're intended, innocent 10-yard pitch shot could quickly turn into an embarrassing 75-yard skulled shot.
So, if you're playing a casual round with friends, please, make it so the putter is the only club in your hands when you reach the dance floor.
Mickelson is an expert, as he proved years ago when he had hail between him and the hole:
4. Putting out of a bunker. Perhaps you have a mental block and the sand is your nemesis. Maybe you think you have a better chance of escaping the bunker with the putter than you do with a sand wedge. But before you step into the sand with the short stick it may be worth it to truly consider: Is this the smartest play? Is this going to get me closer to the hole than a sand wedge would?
In some instances, it certainly could be the best play.
In most cases, however, there's a good chance that more bad than good can come out of that shot selection. It could hit the lip and roll back into the bunker, or worse yet, roll into your footprints.
It could squeak out, but leave you a terrible lie in the rough just outside the bunker. Since judging speed is a huge factor in hitting this particular shot, you could potentially hit it so hard that it goes across the green and into another bunker, which puts you back at square one.
One instance where it could prove to be your best option is in a rock-hard bunker. Maybe it's like concrete after heavy rains have washed away the fluff.
Then you could potentially do this:
3. Threading an iron shot through trees. If there's a better chance of you or a playing partner getting injured from a ricocheted golf ball than there is of you getting the ball on the green, maybe you should just punch out? Novel idea, isn't it? But we golfers are a stubborn bunch.
Even the best professional players in the world "take their medicine" in cases where the minuses outweigh the pluses. Maybe you don't like the idea of punching it out back into the fairway, but if it's going to guarantee a clear shot to the green for your next shot isn't it worth considering?
The alternative is maybe you pull off the hero shot. More likely than not, you don't -- your ball nails a tree in front of you, goes out of bounds, or a hundred other places not identified as "fairway."
We're not Mickelson:
2. Playing a shot out of the water. After hitting what you thought was a great shot, you watch helplessly as your ball hits the bank of a water hazard by the green and rolls down into the water.
To your delight, you arrive at the ball to see that it isn't fully submerged. Suddenly, your mind flashes back to Bill Haas at the 2011 Tour Championship and the 17th hole at East Lake. You know the shot I'm talking about, right? This one:
Haas hit that shot because he had a tournament and about $12 million riding on it (a shade under $2 million for the win and the $10 million that comes with winning the FedExCup).
For every shot like the one Haas pulled off, there are likely 500 like this one before it:
1. Driver off the deck. This wasn't such a big deal -- but still a brazen one -- when driver heads were the size of what our 3 woods are today.
But in the age of 460cc driver heads, attempting to address a ball on a plush fairway with something that is about the size of a shoebox is daunting to say the least.
It can certainly be done.
See Bubba Watson at Kapalua's 18th hole:
More often than not, that type of shot leaves us looking more the way Justin Thomas did at last year's Valspar Championship (and we're not picking on Thomas, who -- by the way -- still made birdie):
Stick to the 3 wood off the deck, ladies and gentlemen.