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Bad shots happen to everyone. Some more than others. During a recent muni outing, my usual Sunday group decided to power rank bad shots. The criteria is basically how miserable they make you feel, and how pathetic they make you look.
5. Topping It
You’re riding high after absolutely bitching a drive down the right side of the fairway. It was like 2005 Tiger hitting a stinger off the tee and charging off the box like a boss. You’re thinking eagle is a possibility, but surely nothing less than par. Honestly, if you don’t make birdie you’ll be kicking yourself. You’ve only got 260 left to the hole, and naturally, laying up is not an option. You’re last to hit because you outdrove your entire group by 20 yards. You really let the big dog eat.
You confidently walk over to your bag and grab that 3-wood you’ve been crushing lately. The group ahead of you is still dicking around on the green, and you take pride in your etiquette, so you wait. You can sense the frustration in your group as they sit there in the 102 degree heat waiting on you. You look back at the tee box and see that threesome that clearly wants to play through (THERE’S NOWHERE TO GO, ASSHOLES) aggressively staring you down with their hands on their hips. Time to put on a show.
The foursome clears the green, and now it’s go time. One practice swing. You address the ball. You swing the club. You barely make contact with the ball. It’s a miracle that you didn’t completely whiff. The ball pops into the air like a failed missile launch and gently falls back down to the fairway and rolls out about thirty yards. All that buildup, all that hype, and you did that? Fuck. At that point, you’re convincing yourself that it was just the functional equivalent of a layup, and you can still make par. Meanwhile, your group is shooting each other looks that say, “Saw that coming from a mile away.” Man, you suck.
4. The Traditional Chunk
Dear God, this is defeating. There you are with a wedge in your hand, and you’re thinking birdie or GTFO. Time to yank the brake on that bogey train you’ve been riding. It’s a drivable par 4, but you’ve recently embraced Dad Golf, so you went hybrid off the tee. The good news: you’re left with 88 yards to a very accessible pin location. The bad news: you don’t practice, and you have no touch whatsoever. You’d be more confident with a mid-iron iron in your hand, but this is the bed you’ve made for yourself.
It’s a classic tight lie, and not in a cool, UGK kinda way. This shot has blade written all over it. You remind yourself to keep your head down, and to hit down on the ball. Pretty routine stuff, but when you were out until 2 a.m. the night before, and you haven’t even urinated yet, routine means nothing. You take it back about three-quarters of the way and execute. While you hold your pose in a way that has everyone rolling their eyes, there’s a brief moment when you think it could be good. Then, like phantom punch to the back of the head, you watch the ball drop about 35 yards short of the green. You could easily start crying.
Your divot is 6-inches behind the ball. It’s almost large enough for you to crawl in and bury yourself, and that’s exactly what you want to do. Now you have go hit a delicate chip off the same asshole fairway and pray for a par. You’re fucked.
3. The Sand Chunk
All you’re thinking is, “Just get it on the dance floor.” You’d be happy with a 50-foot par putt because the group behind you is watching, and you really don’t want to look like a clown again. Deep down, though, you know there are only two outcomes here: 1) chunk, or 2) blade. You open the face, aim a little left, and think about hitting behind the ball a few inches. Unfortunately, you’re terrible. The ball barely moved, and the wind blew sand back in your face. Not only do you look stupid, but you have to hit the exact same shot. You’re sweating, and there’s sand in your eyes. With no hesitation, you hit the exact same shot. You pick up and mark yourself down for a double. Go grab another beer, Hasselhoff.
You cocky bastard. You just missed the green with your approach shot, and now you have a routine up and down left to save par. While every instructor on the planet would tell you to pull a 9-iron and play a nice bump and run, you decide to grab that brand new sand wedge to put some fancy spin on it. Who do you think you are?
As you open the face on your wedge for some reason, you begin to realize that you’re missing one crucial ingredient for this shot: talent. You know the prudent thing to do is walk back to your cart, grab the 9, and play the smart shot, but no — you can’t make the group wait any longer. They’re almost surely talking shit about you on a group text, so you need to step up and knock it close. Too bad you do the exact opposite. You just skulled it over the green. Way over the green. You almost hit Mark in the shin, and if he wasn’t such prick, he’d have at least tried to knock it down for you. Instead, you’re laboring across the green while the group basically says, “Fuck you,” and finishes out the hole.
Getting the shanks is like realizing you didn’t put on deodorant before you left the house. Once you feel that first bead of sweat run down your arm, the entire dilemma is firmly planted in your fragile little mind, and the situation will just get worse. It’s Shank City, population: you. The most miserable thing, other than the ball rocketing off the hosel like a fucking North Korean test missile, is that you’ll be thinking about that shot for the rest of the day. You’ll think, “Man, I must really be coming from the inside” as you desperately search for that three dollar DT Solo that’s two fairways over. You think back to some tip you read in Golf Digest about getting over the shanks, and naturally, you just make things worse.
The entire group feels your pain, but nobody offers any recommendations because nobody wants to be “that guy.” At this point, every time you address the ball it’s like your own personal game of Russian Roulette. Just pack it up and go work it out on the range, because your group officially hates you. .
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