This blog post won’t end up being too long as playing your miss is a pretty simple topic. However, I want to discuss it for beginner players, and even better players that just don’t really think all that much about course management. For beginner players playing your miss is a difficult thing sometimes as beginners and less consistent players may have a two-way miss. The idea is that you take what your typical miss is, and you play your shot with the idea that you will miss it, and if you hit a great shot you are still in good shape.
What is a two-way miss?
A two-way miss means that you sometimes miss right, and sometimes you miss left, you don’t have a consistent miss. Personally, I have a right miss, where I try to hit a draw and I leave it out to the right. I know that that is my miss so if I am going to make an error in my swing, it is going to be getting a little in front and not drawing it back. However, if I also had a tendency to hook it, then I would have a two-way miss, I could miss it left, or right. The first thing you need to do is recognize where you miss the ball so that you can play it. If you miss it on both sides, you need to work to eliminate that as soon as possible. Go out and practice, develop clubface control then work around whatever natural path that you have. Another great way to get rid of a two-way miss is to get your body in sync with your swing. The best way to do this is the towel drill. Go out to the range, put your golf towel under your arms, locking it to your chest. Take 75% swings, hitting punch shots. If you can do it without losing the towel, you are doing it right. This just helps get your body in sync so you’re not hitting it all over the yard. Now, you aren’t perfect, sometimes you will still miss to the wrong side, but if it's only occasionally you will be in much much better shape!
You have a 1-way miss, how do you play it?
So now that you have gotten rid of your two-way miss, how do you play it? Well, that comes with understanding the golf course, and understanding where you can miss it on each individual shot. There will be some shots where you can miss around certain spots, these are usually referred to as bail-out areas. So let's get specific and give you an easy-to-understand situation. I want to use hole 7 at Timarron as a really easy example. 7 is a long par 4 with water down the left side, and the eighth hole down the right side. It's wide-open right, death left. The other trick about the tee shot on that hole is that the further you hit it, the more the water on the left comes into play, but you can’t see it. It doesn’t look like it, but anything left of the middle of the fairway if you hit it 300+ and that ball is gone forever, Aaron Hernandez. So what do you do on this hole? Well into the wind I am taking it as far right as I possibly can. I aim down the right side, just left of the trees, and hit a massive cut. This takes water completely out of play off the tee. It also gets me a great line into the flag. Without having to take it over water at all. The green turns back to the left behind the water if you are in the middle of the fairway 150 yards out, and the pin is on the back of the green, you have to take it over the water to get anywhere near the pin. So my miss is typically right of my target, so 7 isn’t very hard. On the tee shot I aim down the right side, if I hit it perfect I’m in perfect shape, if I block it out, I am sitting in great shape to the right of the fairway, potentially in 8 fairway. Now if I were to miss with a left miss I would need to aim WAY right so that if I miss I am in the fairway and if I hit it well I am right in a good spot as well. The whole point of this is to play to the safest spots if you don’t hit a perfect shot. Now we will discuss the approach to the green. It is a tricky green, short and left is a bunker, and left and short of that is water. So on a shot like this, where right is fine, and a good miss, I will aim middle of the green, and if I hit a great shot I’m 20 feet from the pin, if I hit a bad shot, I am right side of the green or right of the green and I’m in great shape. These are all pretty basic course management details. So to summarize, understand where the ball goes when you miss and adjust accordingly based on where you can and cannot miss. Worst case scenario, play to the middle of the green.
Playing your miss is an easy concept that advanced players know and use continually. You always should play to what you do when the pressure is on. As you play like this you will start to notice you make a lot more pars and a lot less double bogeys. Try incorporating this into your next round, I promise you will be surprised about how simple it can make your round!