Stay Agressive in Golf

by Jordan on March 14, 2014

Back in 2010 PGA Tour member Robert Garrigus held a 3 shot lead standing on the 72nd hole of the ST Jude Classic.

He only needed a double bogey to win. So he had plenty of wiggle room to win his first event on Tour. But pressure is a crazy thing and it sometimes makes you think not so clearly.

Remember Jean Van De Velde at the Open Championship in 1999? He thought he could hit a ball out of the burn. Crazy!

The same can be said of Garrigus. His golf strategy on the hole was awful and I will talk about his club selection as well as the way his mind took over.

Playing It Safe

When a player has a lead on the final hole of a tournament and and can make a bogey or worse, they think playing safe is the way to go. I’d not a huge fan of this.

Here’s why.

Staying aggressive and playing the hole as if you needed to make par to win will yield better results. Playing passive will really compound errors on bad swings if they occur. And bad swings under pressure will occur,

Club Selection

For Robert he decided to hit a hybrid off the tee. Although hybrids are really easy to hit, his best chance for error with a club is still a driver because of it’s bigger head. And especially on a hole with water along the left side.

If he hit a driver to the right, he’d be find. If he hits the ball left and it enters the hazard, it does much further down and he is able to drop in a position where he can hit a shot close to the green. With his hybrid shot into the hazard, he had to drop much further back and in a spot where the trees left of the hazard were in play.

Take a look at the image below to see what I mean.

18th Hole @ TPC Southwind

Here is an angle from ground level.

Ground level view

Ground level view

This is if he makes a bad swing with his driver and hits it left into the winter. Missing left in the water on this hole is the worst case scenario. And a worst case scenario with a driver in the water yields a far better drop spot. From there he could have easily hit the green with his third shot.

I asked a few students at a Tampa Bay Golf School after what club they’d hit. Many said hybrid or 3 iron. If you can put three good swings on a middle iron under pressure and make a bogey, then by all means do so.

But the odds are much better of making a bogey by hitting a driver off the tee and staying aggressive. If you hit one in the water, you can still make a bogey by hitting your 3rd shot on the green. If you happen to hit a poor 6 iron and end up in the water, you’ll be in the same position as Robert above faced with a tough 3rd shot that will not get you to the green because your drop is so far back.

It boils down to which club you have the most confidence with. Drivers are bigger and have the largest sweet spot. This makes the errors from bad swings much greater than the smaller heads of hybrids and irons.

Mind Games

When under pressure, the mind takes over. Instead of thinking positive and making good swings while trying to make a par for the hole, you’ll be thinking about all the worst possible outcomes for each shot . All your trying to do is make a bogey or whatever the highest possible score you can make on the hole is. These negative thoughts will hurt you once you put a bad swing on a shot and a bad outcome occurs. From there your mind and heart rate will speed up and what Johnny Miller refers to as “choking” will happen.

A way to overcome “choking” is to breath deep, drink water and stay positive. It also helps to put this it retrospect to relieve pressure from yourself.

“Will my family still love me after this hole regardless of what happens?”

“Will I wake up tomorrow the same way I always have if something bad occurs?”

In the grand scheme of things, playing great and winning a event shouldn’t be so important. This game is full of regrets but it’s learning how to forget about them that makes you truly great. Phil Mickelson is a great example of this. If he dwelled upon all his close calls in the Majors, he may not have won his 4th green jacket in 2010.

So stay agreesive instead of passive and take your mind off choking by using the mental game tips ahead.

If you are in Tampa Bay and need help with your mental game, check out Get Golf Schools.


Jordan J. Caron is a former Canadian PGA Class A member who still wants to help golfers shoot better scores. He is also the President of Meaningful Marketing. In his downtime he likes to read, play squash and drink wine.

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