RBC Heritage

Harbour Town Golf Links



Learn to Shake Off Bad Shots

December 22, 2009

I was leading the 2003 Jeld-Wen Tradition -- a major on the Champions Tour -- in the last round when I hit my second shot on the par-5 16th hole into the water. It was just a terrible shot.

A lot of the time something like that would ruin a player's confidence and result in more bad shots or tentative play. How do you forget a bad hole and not let it bring you down? It's a challenge at every level of play.

I had learned from years of experience with this intriguing little game of ours to simply put it out of my mind. There was nothing I could do to replay the shot, so why worry about it?

Walter Hagen said he expected to hit seven bad shots a round. I told myself that this was one of mine. I've always tried to bounce back from a poor hole with a good hole. "Bounce Back" is even a stat on the PGA Tour now. After bogeying 16, I parred 17 and then birdied the final hole to win by a stroke over Tom Kite, Gil Morgan and Jim Ahern.

I didn't allow the bad hole to spoil my attitude the rest of the way.

More Thoughts From Tom
Everybody's talking about the new groove rule on tour. I played a set of irons with 2010 grooves by mistake in a Champions Tour event last summer, and I hit some real flyers. I hope manufacturers can't find a way around the rule when we change grooves. It's a good rule.

Tom Watson is a Golf Digest Playing Editor and the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.

You are using an unsupported version of Internet Explorer. Please upgrade to Internet Explorer 11 or use a different web browser.