Which club to use and when???

Golf is not a game of perfect, more a game of how good your bad shots are. But sometimes, the inevitable happens, and you're well and truly 'off-piste'.

"This is a game of misses. The guy who misses the best is going to win." - Ben Hogan.

Picking the right shot (and club) at the right time to get you out of some sticky situations is critical to keeping your score low and the momentum up.

We've put together a quick guide for some of the most common scenarios you might find yourself in, and the best way to get out of them and back into play. Sometimes though, you will have to take your medicine and a penalty drop.

In the deep rough

If you miss the fairway (and the first cut of rough), you'll do well to find your ball in the first place. But if you are lucky enough to find it, then you'll be faced with a decision. More often than not, you'll be able to see the green or the flag through a tiny gap or know it's just over the bush in front of you.

Although this might be possible, it's not probable, more a one in fifty shot.

The sensible and recommended shot is with a lofted wedge (so the rough cannot grab the hosel) and punch the ball back onto the fairway and leaving you a clear shot onto the green. This way you're back in position in one shot every time, rather than playing pinball in the trees!

Fairway bunker

It's incredible how fairway bunkers are in the perfect place to catch your drive and often with a shallow lip to tempt you into taking a longer club to get the ball as far down the hole as possible or even reach the green. However, catch the ball a little thin, and it will most likely fly into the lip and stay in the bunker with you.

Taking one more club than you believe will see you clear the lip with good clean contact. You'll be short of the green, yes, but on the plus side not still in the bunker.

Chip to a back pin

One of the best short game and chipping tips for a new golfer is to get the ball back on the ground as soon as possible. If you're playing to a back pin from the front edge of the green, the percentage play it to take a 7-iron and treat it like a putt. Fly the ball a third of the distance through the air, and it should roll out the remaining two thirds.

If there is something you need to pitch over, then you'll need to take more loft, and this equation will change around. We've got more on chipping over bunkers below.

Long shots over water

When playing over water, the club selection is pretty simple; the yardage is the same as if the water wasn't there. It's more your mental state, which is going to determine the result. It sounds simple, but you need to trust the club and put a good solid swing on it.

If the water were a bunker then you'd think differently about it so why not imagine it like that? If you're scared, then you'll no doubt be dropping and playing three. So back yourself and watch the ball fly onto the green.

Chipping over a bunker (or water)

Chipping over a bunker (or water) is one of the most fearer scenarios in golf. Golfers too often try to add loft and help the ball into the air rather than trusting the club and letting the loft do its job.

Lofted wedges with wide soles are designed to get the ball up in the air easily. If you address the ball as normal and put a nice smooth swing on it, there is nothing to be scared of. The ball will pop in the air, carry the bunker and land the other side, releasing down to the hole.

Punch under a tree

There's nothing worse than striking the ball perfectly from the rough only to misjudge how the ball will launch and clipping the very tree you were trying to play beneath.

Taking a longer club with lass loft you know is going to stay low can lead fix one problem but create one with regards to distance control. By gripping down on the longer club, it will go a shorter distance. For example, a gripped down 5-iron, should go the same as a normal 7-iron, just with a lower trajectory to keep the ball under the tree you're trying to avoid.

'Flyer' lies

There's a phenomenon in golf that causes the ball to fly further from the rough, contrary to what you'd expect. These are called 'fliers' and caused by moisture and/or grass being trapped between the clubface and the ball at impact. These lies are identified by think rough with the ball is sat nicely on top, almost as if it's on a tee.

If you think the ball is going to come out hot and jump forward then consider taking a club less to compensate. Short is usually better than long on most golf courses.

Full pitch into the green

Although it's called a sand wedge, this club can be useful when you're not in a bunker. If you've got a relatively short distance to cover, then there's no club better suited to the shot. Use your sand wedge to launch the ball up in the air and land softly on the green. Be sure to know your distances, so you don't fly long, or come up short!

Into the wind

As the old saying goes, when it's breezy, swing it easy!

There's no better time to remember this saying than when you're playing into the wind. Spin is not your friend when playing into the wind, as any spin you impart on the ball is going to be exaggerated by the conditions. Taking one more club and concentrating on the strike, which will minimise spin will help when playing into the wind.

Unplayable lies

You're not going to draw a lie in the rough or have a nice gap through the trees all the time. Sometimes you have to get creative and get any part of the club on the ball to bring yourself back into play.

If you find yourself in this situation, get into the routine of asking yourself a few questions in your mind:

  • How do I get the ball back into play?
  • How do I avoid a 6, or worse?
  • Should I take a drop?
  • Can I play the shot left-handed?
  • Can I play the shot one-handed?

Taking your time and considering your options and playing the percentages will over time lead to far better scores.

Up a bank to the green (bump and run)

If you're playing uphill to the green, the last thing you want is to be playing your next shot from the same position because you duffed it and the ball rolled back to your feet.

Treating this shot like a putt and use a stronger lofted club will give the ball more forward momentum and a better chance of getting up the hit. A 7-iron will also reduce the frequency of bad shots, like a thin or duff, resulting in more putts.

Of course, if you are close enough to the green, then there's no reason not to use your putter. A bad putt is usually a better result than a good chip.

Chipping down a slope

Golf is a target game, but sometimes, against all intuition, you need to play away from the pin - usually when mother nature and the geography comes into play.

Tiered greens are one particular instance when this course of action is required. Playing away from the flag to take advantage of a slope is a great option to be aware of and might mean you're closer than if you played in a straight line.

From all the above, you can see that a good rule is getting out of trouble first time, or leaving yourself a putt, regardless of distance, is better than another chip or pitch or still being in the trees or rough.

For more information or to speak to one of our PGA qualified customer services team call 0208 4016 901. Lines and emails are open and managed from 9:00am - 5:00pm , Monday – Friday and 9:00am - 1:00pm Saturday.