A Lesson Learned: When discretion is better part of valor

By Christopher Hawkins, PGA
Published on

Another dramatic week, punctuated with a playoff finish, on the PGA Tour. This time, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson went toe-to-toe for extra holes to determine the winner of the Zurich Classic outside of New Orleans.

Many people are going to remember the bad luck Simpson encountered on the 15th green when he started to tap in for a par when his ball, after he had addressed it with his putter, moved just a little bit. The rules of golf call for a one-stroke penalty, and to his credit, Simpson called over a rules official, explained what happened and assesed the stroke on his scorecard.

But it was something that happened earlier on the hole that I thought I thought could have the most application to your game. And it was actually something that Simpson did that I'm going to suggest that you NOT try.

Did you see his second shot on that 15th hole? His tee shot was pulled and he ended up in an awkward lie in the rough, right next to a bunker. In fact, in order to make a full swing, he had to have one foot in that bunker! And as you'd might expect, he pulled off an incredible shot. My first thought was, "Wow, what a great shot." My second thought was, "I hope my students don't try that."

Remember that Simpson is a professional tour player who not only has an immense amount of talent, but works diligently on his game every single day. For those of us who may not be Tour caliber, it's important to limit the damage in tough situations. For 99 percent of amateur players, the proper play in such a case would be to pitch the ball to a comfortable distance, try to hit an approach that will still allow for a makeable putt at par.

The worst case scenario will hopefully be a bogey. Remember, you can recover from a bogey. One birdie will do it. Double-bogeys and "others", those are the ones that can really wreck your score.

As it turned out, Webb Simpson did make a bogey on the hole, but it had nothing to do with his decision to take a tough shot on his second shot on the hole. That said, for many players who may have tried that same shot, you may be looking at bogey or worse if you tried that too. Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor. And your score will be better served when you play within your means. 

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