Oh Rickie, NO!!!

Jeff Fisher
Director of Instruction
Fisher Bryan Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club
Mesa, AZ

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71st hole of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, two shot lead and the easiest par 4 on the golf course. Two pars will most likely win the event. Rickie Fowler made a choice to hit driver and his chance at winning the tournament took a dive into the lake behind the green!

Many people will say that Rickie got a bad bounce when his ball went into the water, and while I agree, it was the choice to hit driver that made that bad bounce possible. In my opinion, Rickie took a risk that he did not need to take and it is a great lesson for all golfers to learn. Taking unnecessary risks, when the reward is not really there, will more than likely cost you shots rather than gain them. 

I talk a lot to my students about what is necessary for them to do on a golf course and what is not. Much of it has to do with hitting shots that don’t need to be hit. For instance, a 14 handicapper hitting a driver off the tee on a short, tight par 5, because a good shot MAY give him a chance to reach the green in two. Result, two balls out of bounds and a 9 on the hole! Was this because he hit a bad shot with a driver? Of course it was but it was more because a 14 handicapper had visions of hitting a par 5 green in two. 

Subtract your handicap from 18 and that is about how many pars you should make in a round of golf. Now take that number and put it against the handicap number on each hole. If the handicap of the hole is lower than yours it means you are not supposed to par that hole. It means you are supposed to make bogey. The problem is that most recreational golfers hit shots trying to make pars or birdies on holes and from positions where that result is not realistic. If they would instead hit shots that they could expect a higher degree of success from, then they would stay away from the blowup holes that plague so many rounds. 

The other concern I have with Rickie’s decision is that as he stood on that 71st tee box it was by my count the 24th time he had played the hole in his career and he had already hit the ball in the water 7 of the previous 23 times. He had bogeyed it on Friday. This would all seem to tell me that his plan of attack for the hole may not be the right one. 

Again, a good lesson for every day golfers. Remember your tendencies. For me, golf is about having a good game plan that plays to your strengths and takes into consideration your tendencies. If you do those things then I believe you can shave strokes off your score without doing anything to change your swing.

Jeff Fisher is Director of Instruction at the Fisher Bryan Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club. Jeff can be reached at 480.414.9330 or jfisher@obsports.com.