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Lesson Learned: One Mistake Shouldn't Turn into Two

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

During the final nine of the Valspar Championship, Keegan Bradley provided us all with a unique coaching moment on the 13th hole. Unfortunately, this is the hole that probably cost him the tournament, but when players are tested it’s the best time to watch their reaction. He knew the circumstances all too well. As a four-time PGA Tour winner, major champion and, Ryder Cup teammate, Keegan’s preparation for his next shot is what really caught my attention.
There was still a chance he could come back and therefore every shot for the remainder of his day suddenly had no margin for error. As he approached the drop area on the peninsula Par 3, he consulted with his caddie.
Here’s the key learning moment, most golfers are so upset they have just sent the ball to a watery grave they just walk over and drop another ball.
Not Keegan, a competitor who has earned over 27 million dollars and successfully navigated 75% of the cutlines he’s faced in his career. Keegan collected himself and wanted to know what the yardage was from a certain small section of the drop zone. The caddie walked it off and gave him the number. Consider the entire moment for just a second. Instead of letting his anger, patience or frustration get the best of him, he calmy thought his way through the challenge at hand.
Many of us may face a similar situation and encounter a drop area that is very small where one yardage is all that applies. Check out Bradley’s next strategic play. He goes to the far left of the drop zone. The hole location was far-right. Have you ever heard of using the whole tee box? If you follow this PGA Coach you have, and if you missed that article go back to the Morikawa RBC Heritage piece. Great players are great because they are always ruminating through the details.
Of course, Keegan goes to the far left with an extreme right hole location. It gives him the best angle to attack and possibly save a bogey. Golf course architects use angles to challenge players. PGA Tour players and their PGA Coaches know what they are doing. Thinking your way through a patience pressing moment like Keegan did shows us all why he is a champion.
Believe it or not, there’s one more significant point. This action by Bradley was very subtle, but probably the most important of all three. He looked down before he dropped. First to gauge whether he was safely dropping inside the area and second to look for a nice piece of real estate. On countless occasions, frustrated players drop a ball in a drop zone only to have it come to rest in a terrible lie. Hey folks, if there’s a specific area marked for relief on any given hole, you can guarantee it will get used! Pay attention before you drop because I’m sure you’re not the first person who has been there.
In two weeks the 103rd PGA Championship will take place in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. This weekend, at the Valspar, we were all reminded why Keegan Bradley is a past champion of that major tournament. Next time you find yourself in a challenging moment on the course, remember Keegan’s composure and set yourself up for some next shot success.
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