What would you have done?

Hi everyone,

I hit a shot this morning that I’m not sure if it was more a bad choice or just poor execution, so I’m curious to know what other people would have done.

On a par 4, I hit a poor tee shot that left me in the rough. I had 150 yds to the front of the green, 180 yds to the back. That’s an easy 6 iron for me.

But there were two problems. First, the lie was not great (but not terrible). There wasn’t a lot of grass directly around the ball, but the grass was more dense a few inches behind it. It made me think I’d need to come in at a pretty precise angle to get clean contact without too much interference from the grass. But it didn’t seem terrible - wish I took a picture.

Second, I had water in front of me that goes pretty close to the green. Plan B would have been a ~70 yd layup before the water for another ~90+ yds to the green.

I went for it, and of course, didn’t hit it cleanly and ended up in the water.

So what do you guys think - good choice with poor execution, or bad choice with too much risk? (I’m a 15 handicap.)


As a 15 as well I’m interested to hear what others say. I would probably have gone for it as well. 150 is not that far and if the lie was not that bad I would think I could do it with 8i or more with safety. I have been getting better with my 5 hybrid lately and that seems to cut through rough decently and can be an option as well if long is better.

Personally I don’t think you made a bad choice assuming you hit your 6i decently most of the time. Since things didn’t work out it’s easy to 2nd guess, but it still may have been the % play. As a 15 I’m guessing that your short game is not magical so laying up at 150 seems too conservative. I could see if it was 175 or more, but I’m thinking of my game and I’d still want to see the lie and take in all the other variables.

I had a similar shot yesterday with 7i and didn’t pull it off, but I should have aimed more right to allow for safety and for the rough closing the face down. I had another almost identical shot on the back 9 and this time pulled it off because I did a better job with figuring out the miss and alignment.

Hitting a 6 iron out of that lie is probably not the easiest or highest percentage play.

I like to hit low punches from lies like this with a steep angle of attack. I don’t think it needs to be extra precise, but minimize the contact with the grass before the ball.

Shots from the rough often need 1-2 extra clubs putting you at a 5 or possible even a 4 iron.

If you see the lie and you think that you will have trouble clearing the water, you already know that you should lay up. :grinning: I’m a 7 handicap, not a heck of a lot lower than you guys but that’s my .02

1 Like

Hindsight means either of those could be true. I suppose if you track every shot, you could go into the numbers and see the probability of not carrying 150 yards with a 6 iron out of the rough, but that’s hard to reference in the moment.
I’d say the bigger learning moment is thinking about why you might not have hit it cleanly? Was it because you were trying to hit that “precise angle” rather than just swinging your swing and committing to it? For a lot of mid-handicap golfers, the best results will come from trusting and using a stock swing every time. Once you try to force a shot to do something different it just causes problems. I’ve been between a 5 and 8 this year and will very, very rarely try to do something different than my natural swing.

1 Like

Instead of “was this the right choice”, lets step back and look at expectations for the hole at that point… You are in the rough, water in front of you, and you have a 6 iron in your hands… on most days, I assume a bogey would be a decent score for you from that position…

So, now we are looking at trying to make a bogey, and possibly hoping for a putt for par… Does that change the math?

I think it makes the layup to 70 yards the more obvious option… especially if you are considering changing how steep to swing the club to hit the ball due to the rough… from there, you can hopefully put it on and have a putt for par, and an easy bogey…

The 6 iron out of the rough is likely to miss the green regardless, and you’ll be in a similar situation, so why not eliminate the risk?


Which distance is the easy 6I for you? The front, middle, or back of the green? Because 150, 165, and 180 are all ideally three separate clubs for me. Is there water, or another significant penalty, for being long here?

Normally, I’d take the club that puts me on the back of the green, as stated here by Scott Fawcett. Because I’m likely not going to hit it flush anyway—bad lie or not—and I want enough club that a mishit still hits the front of the green. Here, I don’t know whether you need more club, because there’s enough rough to prevent crisp contact, or less club, because of the ‘flier’ effect. It sounds like, you definitely don’t want to be short.

I’d take enough here that I can swing easily, and still reach the back. For me, that distance, no wind, is a 4I. I’m not laying up…unless I don’t think I can make good contact with that club (like if I was trying to dig through rough with my 3W or something). I’m not worried about going long, unless it gets ridiculous, and I don’t think that’ll happen in your situation. Cf, my patented 140 yd bladed sand wedges…

1 Like

A lot of interesting thoughts here. Thanks, guys!

If this was an average lie in the rough - the ball resting up a bit and the grass not super tall or dense - I’d go for that every time.

Looking back, the fact that this particular lie intimidated me a bit should’ve been all the info I needed. While I fully intended to hit my stock swing without doing anything special, I wouldn’t doubt that the bit of intimidation I was feeling influenced my swing. And I’m pretty sure I hit it fat, which is typically what happens when I feel hesitation.

At this point I’m thinking the best thing to take away from this is that I should be able to rely on my wedges more. From 90ish yards out, I’ll hit the green more often than not, but I’m thinking it should really be almost all of the time, which would have made the layup a much easier choice. Without that level of confidence in my wedges, the layup meant there was a good possibility that I could be chipping to get on the green in 4 and 2-putt for a double, which pushed me to go for it instead. I dropped pretty much where I would’ve hit my layup, and of course I hit the green no problem, lol.


If I hit my 6 iron well, it carries ~180, sometimes more if I really hit it flush, so I was planning for back of the green. I felt like my 5 would’ve been overkill, and I tend to hit my 6 better anyway. The more I think about it, the more I think the layup was the way to go.

Just a friendly reminder that a scratch handicap averages 3.0 strokes to hole out from 90 yards.

You should definitely plan to hit the green from that distance every time, but manage your expectations!

Depends on your ball-striking ability, swing speed, and launch conditions. Ultimately its about how often you’re able to launch a 6-iron out of such a lie.

Then it sounds like the lie was such that you couldn’t be confident of making adequate contact with the club you needed, and therefore laying up is your only choice. The results here aren’t that important, except for their confirming your read.

I’d add that you really want to be sure just how far your layup will travel, and that it definitely won’t go further into trouble. I’ve done it a bunch. Decide to layup—“I’m making the conservative, SMART choice!” Consequently make a relaxed swing, and crush it…right through my desired landing zone into more trouble. Downright souleating.

To me the answer is simple. In a match, opponent on green in 2, go for it, if opponent still has to play second shot, hack it out and go for pin in 3. Medal play, tourney…take your medicine eliminate 6 or 7. Just playing…go for it everytime…


Boy oh boy don’t we all love a hero shot in this scenario.
Low confidence, mid (at best) percentage shot?
1 in water, 1 drop & still wedging in from 90 yds.
You already know the answer.When in doubt, wedge it out.
But WTH 2 strokes & a lost ball. Sure woulda been sweet to stiff it.

I tend to rely in the 70% rule. If I think I can make the shot AT LEAST 70% of the time then I will play it. Below that, take the safe option. This varies day to to day and hole to hole. On the first hole I may take a more conservative view than later in the round when I know how I’m striking the ball, what the wind and temperature are doing etc.

If you had taken the lay up, I am guessing you would almost certainly be putting for par having hit the green in 3. In reality, that was probably the play as it take out the possibility of a poor strike or other unexpected occurrence.

1 Like

If I can get face on ball first I’m going for it, especially from 150. That’s a PW for me, so that changes things. If I have a semi hairy lie and I have to hit 6 or higher, I may take the lay up, hit a good chip, and walk away with my par.

In this case I’m probably grabbing a choke 9 iron and coming in steep enough to make good contact. If I go long, fine. It’s a 30 yard deep green. No biggie. If the grass grabs my hosel and I pull it left, fine. I’m likely still pin high.

Get your par.


I think the key phrase here is ‘get YOUR par’. That isn’t the same as course par, it depends on your own handicap. As a 20 HCI that mean a 5 is par, so the lay up makes much more sense, green in three, two putt and away we go. (and I cannot hit the ball anywhere near as well as you can!).

1 Like

I wouldn’t have the confidence to go for the pin and I see more downside than up so I would have played to a safe spot within the range of my wedges. Now, I have high confidence in my wedges and feel that I could get close enough to the pin on my third shot for a good chance at par or worst case bogey. I’m a 10 handicap.


Yep, punch out, chip on, get the 5 and move on.


So our home course was aerated and we played a couple of different courses that the woods & tree lined fairways presented problems, especially for me. I had 4 tee balls that basically went into jail…no hope of parole. All four I played out to the fairway. 2 with a putter and 2 with back stance hooded 5 irons…2 holes I made par, 2 holes I made bogey. I did take chances not to hit sideways, but hit the balls out 20 to 80 yds forward, leaving 130 to 100 yds in. I did make the green on all 4 holes in 3. 1 was a 2ft gimmee, 1 was an 18ft draino, 1 was 12 ft miss, 1 was a 30 ft miss. I could have gustoed all 4, but I played very controlled recovery shots through like 6ft openings instead of being a failed hero and yelling curse words at myself 2x on a hole. (just on the tee shots)…I was actually playing well, shot 77 on a course I normally don’t play on and we were playing with a couple of guys we just got matched up with, so inside you want to impress others…because I shot a 39 front, the back 9, I took large numbers outta play…worked out OK yesterday.


More like “get your 4.75” for most of the handicaps on here… having a 10 ft look at par is a good result from this location for most of us

1 Like