September 28, 2009

The Hardest Shots In Golf

Is there a shot that sends shivers of fear up your spine? The Angry Golfer has a whole list of them

Early into this year's FedEx Cup playoffs, one of my trusty TV analysts politely reminded me that the 60-yard play from a fairway bunker is the hardest shot in golf. It's one of those bromides everybody has heard but nobody questions, which doesn't make it silly, just a bit trite and probably a few strokes short of accurate.

Whether you chunk it out of the sand with an 8-iron, pick it clean with a gap wedge or throw it onto the green after two failed attempts—that's your business. None of those options offer any guarantees, but I can think of numerous scenarios I'd rather not face.

  • The 200-yard carry over water from Bermuda rough, regardless of which way the wind is blowing.

  • The downhill blast from a greenside bunker with that same lake lurking behind the putting surface, at which point you're probably lying no better than 4.

  • The first three-footer you stand over after the last three-footer you missed.

  • The tee ball at the Li'l Brown Dog's par-5 seventh hole, a dogleg-left with a fairway that tilts severely to the right and is no wider than an ironing board. A row of pine trees inhabits what should be the proper landing area. Any miss left will buy you a few minutes with the doberman in Mrs. Kolerko's back yard. You would think that dog would be a little more people-friendly by now.

  • The left-handed punch with a right-handed club from the base of a tree. I happen to be a southpaw in just about everything but golf, but I'm no better at it than you are.

  • The bum-luck bounce that leaves you just outside that bunker 60 yards from the green. Is the surface beneath my ball firm or soft? Is there a geologist on the grounds? Throw in a slight uphill lie and no place to position my right foot, a $20 press and the status of your opponent, who is getting a stroke on the hole. The hardest shot in golf is only a few feet away, and I'd much rather deal with that.

For more of John Hawkins' opinionated insight, watch the "Grey Goose 19th Hole," Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on the Golf Channel.