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10 Shots We Never Want to Play Again

By: | Fri 12 Jul 2019

Golf is an intoxicatingly rich and challenging sport. Part of that comes from the fact that no two shots you are presented with in a lifetime of playing will ever be truly the same. Variety and randomness are the most integral characteristics of the ancient game, it can have you cursing bad luck or thanking the heavens for a rare glimmer of fortune, but ultimately if you find awkward or seemingly impossible positions on the golf course, it's on you, and the responsibility of escaping rests on your shoulders. Although that can be more difficult in some spots than others.

Here are several key shots that we won't relish playing, but live safe in the knowledge that fate will ask us to.

Deepest Rough

Many would argue that you deserve to be punished for missing a fairway, but sometimes the penalty outstrips the crime, with certain golf courses possessing the deepest and thickest of rough, akin to a vintage U.S. Open setup established by the USGA. Whether you'll manage to find the ball is debatable - and on discovering the lie it may be regrettable - with only the slightest of hint of golf ball being visible to the naked eye. Good luck with advancing that far. And bid adieu to that good score you were building.

2nd Shot Within 10 Yards of Tee

We have all been there at some point. Maybe it's the pressure of a monthly medal. Perhaps you quickly rushed to the tee without a proper warm up. Or it's quite possibly just the ugly spectre of golfing ineptitude making an unwelcome appearance. You stand on the tee hopeful, expectant, even foolishly optimistic. Only to whiff or top the ball ten yards in front of you. The awkward silence is deafening. But at least you are under way. And still in bounds. Yardage, please.

Impossible Stance in Bunker

Commonly found on the majestic links courses of the British Isles, devilish pot bunkers are small in acreage but cavernous in their gathering span, hoovering up wayward golf balls from all directions. Sometimes you can be fortunate. But generally, especially if the ball is resting near the edge, the stance will be impossibly treacherous, requiring one leg in the sand and one above ground, demanding athleticism rarely utilised since your gym days at school, and placing an immense strain on those fetching new trousers that were arguably one size too small. It could get ugly.

Tall Bunker

Expanding on the bunker theme, while many are gratefully larger in size than those hellish pots mentioned above, that is often made up by the depth. Such are the height of the faces on these traps, even the likes of Chris Wood and Robert Karlsson would struggle to see over the top. Consequently, the smart play is often to hit the ball out backyards, taking your proverbial medicine. But we’re golfers. We have delusions of grandeur. We’ll take it on. But such an effort rarely ends well. Just ask the great Jack Nicklaus about the aptly named Hell Bunker in St Andrews.

Use of Ball Retriever

Technically, this is not a shot, but the unfortunate result of one. If you have hit your ball into a burn or stream - maybe even out of the course boundaries - the venue will kindly have a retrieving device to hand for you to fish out that Pro V1. There are few more unintentionally comic images on a golf course than someone grappling with a 12-foot pole with a cup on the end, desperately reaching for their ball. Unless it's you that is doing the fishing that is.

Ball in Gorse/Heather

Often seen on the links courses of Scotland or heathland layouts of England, these bushes have an uncanny magnetic influence on golf balls - a phenomenon yet to be convincingly explained by the world's finest physicists. Beautiful to the eye, but fatal to the dreams of your average golfer, you may be lucky enough to find your ball resting near the edge of the gorse, grasping onto daylight, but if not, you'll be risking life and limb attempting to excavate it from the sharp needles.

Putting Around Bunker

This is when you wish that your ball had ran into the bunker, rather than sitting just outside, short-sided to the pin, with no reasonable option unless you possessed the short game wizardry of Seve Ballesteros. You are officially stymied. To cut your losses and run, the remaining choice you have is to putt around the bunker and reduce the potential damage of taking on a career shot. From personal experience, this can be a scenario played out on the 16th at the Old Course in St Andrews. 

The Same Chip We Just Hit

We all could do with a bit of short game practice, but not when playing a round. If you are facing a delicate chip shot, but either duff the effort or fail to make it up the slope, the ball will kindly return to your feet and give you another chance to get it right. How thoughtful. But you don't want to hit the same shot twice. Especially around the greens.

From the Trees

Wouldn't you love to meet the scoundrel who coined the phrase that trees are 90% air? Hitting an absent tee shot into the forest, due to the lack of growth in the grass, you will often be reunited with your ball, but the fun has only just begun. What is the percentage play, where is the nearest gap to the sanctuary of the fairway? Should you fail either in strategy or execution, the chances are that the ball will ricochet between the trunks and leave you in an even more invidious position. Joyful.

From the Hazard

Your ball was heading perilously towards the hazard – penalty area as they are now pedantically called – and you feared the worst. Only to see that your ball was still visible on the edge of the swamp and playable. Or so you thought. Taking on these shots from the water can often end disastrously for those inconsistent with their ball striking, but chic golfers need to be concerned about the resulting splash and spray from the marshy ground, and how that could stain their elegant attire. Vanish Oxi Action will be required, unless you emulate Henrik Stenson who stripped down to his underway to play his shot from the mud at the 2009 WGC at Doral. Please don't. Think of the children.

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