Rick Smith: Overcoming Your Fear Of Hitting Over Water

By Rick Smith Illustrations by Chris Gash
November 06, 2015

You've just hit a great drive on a par 5, and now you have a choice: Play a medium iron safely up the fairway, short of a water hazard, or blast a fairway wood over it.

Let's say it's a 220-yard carry. That might be a stretch, but the ball is sitting up so nice. You think, What to do? You grab your 3-wood and whale away. But you catch it a little thin, and the ball skips across the water a couple times—then down it goes.

When you're facing a long water carry, you'll tend to tighten up. A short, fast swing is the typical result. Beware of taking a stranglehold on the club, tightening the wrists, which sets up an incomplete backswing. It's hard to hit it solid from there.

Instead, focus on maintaining a smooth sequence back and through with the arms moving in sync with the body. And don't try to help the ball up. That only leads to a scooping action by the hands or hanging back with the body. Do either of those, and you're swimming with the fishes.

Make one confident practice swing, brushing the grass and staying balanced all the way. Picture Rory McIlroy or Jason Day holding a perfect finish. And keep those arms extended going through so you get a crisp strike.