What is “Short-Sided”?
Being “Short-Sided” is a term often used in golf to describe a player’s position on a given hole in relation to where the hole is cut on the green.
Ex. Sue is playing a par 5, she hits a great drive to the center of the fairway. She made a great swing and is feeling good so she decides to hit a fairway wood to get real close to the green or potentially reach in two. She knows the hole is cut towards the back-left of the long green so it is out of reach. Sue also makes note of the bunker guarding the right side of the green and decides she will steer clear of the hazard. She hits a nice shot but it is far from perfect it is pulled slightly left and hits the small hill to the left of the green and kicks farther left. She thinks “I’m glad I’m not in that bunker!”
When Sue reaches her ball she finds that she has a 40 yard shot to the hole. The problem lies in the fact that she has only 12-15 feet of green between the rough and the flag stick… Sue is short-sided. She has a decision to make. She can play a risky flop-style shot that she hasn’t really practiced much, or play a low pitch that has to land in the rough somewhere in order to slow down enough to get her close to the hole or she can choose to play a pitch to land on the green knowing the ball will not slow down until some distance past the hole, leaving her a long putt. In your mind you are probably playing this scenario out and have already picked out YOUR shot. But let’s take a step back to analyze the scenario from above.
If she goes with the high shot there are a few possibilities that you can decide the probability. She could:
Hit a fantastic shot where the club slides under the ball lobbing the ball up into the air, carrying the rough, landing softly on the green, and releases slightly towards the hole to within 2 feet. Birdie!
Hit the ball a bit thin, because she tried to lift the ball to help it clear the rough and ensure a shot that lands on the green. Instead it shoots off the leading edge and scoots across the green as if in a fit of rage. The ball comes to rest, thankfully before the bunker…
She hits the ball a tad heavy, with the leading edge of the club plowing through the turf slowing the club to propel the ball…. Almost. She now faces a simple chip and putt for par.
If she plays the low pitch that lands in the rough, it has the potential to release right up to the hole, or it might be short and remain in the rough. Again, leaving her with a pitch and putt for par.
Last option, safe play… Pitch it up onto the green and allow it to roll where it will. Not sexy, but guarantees an opportunity to putt for a birdie.
We could take all day and discuss what shot she should choose. But what if we looked at the first option… No, not the lob shot, the first decision she made. The decision to hit her fairway wood into the green with the back left flagstick, that she couldn’t get to, that was tucked away from that bunker she didn’t want to have to enter. I hope you’re starting to see where I am going. Let’s hypothetically ponder Sue hitting an iron, effectively “laying up”. She hits a quality 7 iron leaving her with 100 yards left to the flagstick. Regardless of the 7 iron landing on the left, middle, or right side of the fairway the angle is in her favor. Conveniently she hits a Pitching Wedge about 100 yards. Her only decision she needs to make is where to aim. She then can trust the selection, visualize the shot, and execute. If her process is good, she will almost surely have an opportunity for a birdie putt, with her proximity being manageable. A true opportunity…
Being short-sided is a common amateur mistake, and it can be a costly one. Statistically the 12 handicap golfer is 3 times less likely to get up and down from a short-sided position. Meaning that risky flop shot that leaves you that tap in for bird, is a much harder shot to execute with the precision required. Playing with patience and understanding course management can take several shots off of a given round, not to mention make you look like a Pro in the process! Next time you’re out on the golf course and are in a similar situation, I hope you make the smart play. Give yourself that real opportunity for birdie, you deserve it! Tweet, Tweet!
We’ll see you out there!