Welcome to Play Smart, a game improvement column and podcast from editor Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.
That affliction is trying to hit the hero shot, which looks cool the smallest sliver of time, and ends in a mess the rest of the time.
Ultimately, it was going for glory which undid Sahith Theegala at the Travelers earlier this year.
And it almost undid former Open Champ Georgia Hall at the 2022 AIG Women’s Open on Friday — until her hero caddie Harry Tyrrell stepped in.
Playing Muirfield’s par-5 fifth hole, Hall found herself in some dreaded bunker trouble.
After driving her ball into a pot bunker left, her lie was good enough to advance her ball forward, but only as far as the next bunker in line. There, her lie was horrible: Right up against the lip, making the shot from just 111 yards almost unplayable.
But Hall, as any elite player would be, was tempted. She took her stance and began looking straight ahead of her, hoping to advance her ball somewhere into up-and-down range. But with the lip lurking, everyone around her could see disaster lurked.
“If she goes at this angle, she’s really not going to get it out,” commentator Karen Stupples says. “I cannot see it coming out.”
Hall was about to fall into a classic trap posed by these situations: Biting off a little more than she can chew.
Just look at the stats. From 111 yards, let’s say she hits two shots.
- On the first, she takes on the lip and advances her ball about 35 yards — a truly incredible shot from this situation. Best case scenario, from here.
- On the second, she hits something directly sideways-to-backwards, so her next shot is between 100 and 125 yards.
According to the PGA Tour’s proximity stats, the average tour player’s next shot will end 18 feet from the pin if she pulls off the hero first shot. On the second, the stats say the average tour player will end 20 feet. Both those putts carry with them a make rate of about 18 percent.
So at the risk of bringing double bogey, or worse, into play, her reward is…maybe hitting her next shot two feet closer, with the same 80 percent likelihood of missing the next putt?
It doesn’t make sense, and this is why hitting the hero shot doesn’t make sense for the rest of us. Thankfully, Hall had some A+ caddying to help her. Tyrrell coached her into nudging her ball out sideways, back into safety.
She hit her ball on the green and two-putted. That’s golf, but the real victory is what didn’t happen. You can recover from a bogey. In a major like this, you can’t afford to make a double or worse.
She didn’t, thanks to a perfect pairing of tactics and technique from both player and caddy. You can watch the full moment below.