Golfer’s choice: Guts and Glory or safe and sound

“You won’t hit it in the water from here,” Matt Sandberg, the Summit Daily’s publisher, said, shortly before stepping to the 11th tee at The Raven Golf Club at Three Peaks in Silverthorne on Monday, during a charity golf scramble. Accustomed to hitting from the silver tee, 30 yards further back, Sandberg stepped to the white tee and prepared to swing.

The 11th hole at The Raven presents a challenging layout with a water hazard that can easily throw a golfer into a make-or-break Kevin Costner-like “Tin Cup” movie re-enactment. In the famous movie scene, Costner’s character repeatedly fails to clear a water hazard, eventually scoring a 12 on a hole.

The Raven’s 11th will likely give a player an opportunity at that same golfer’s dilemma: to clear or not to clear. The straight shot from the tee leaves a lot of room on the fairway before the fairway bends to the left and a large water hazard separates the fairway from the green.

A golfer that lands a tee shot just before the water hazard will have the chance to contemplate an eagle opportunity on the 551-yard, par 5, if he or she can clear the widest part of the water hazard. The safe play is to follow the fairway left with a second shot, and lay-up on a spot near where the water hazard is much narrower.

Sandberg sent a beautiful drive from the tee straight toward the hole. He expected the ball to fall well short of the hazard. The rest of our foursome stood and watched as his ball landed in the middle of the fairway then bounced and rolled gradually into the water. Sandberg stepped away from the tee box pleased by a long drive, but disappointed by the end result. Fortunately, playing a best-ball scramble, we had three more chances.

Our group came toe to toe with the dilemma on shot number two: glory or safety. The three golfers ahead of me elected for glory. Their hopes all met with a splash.

I’d like to think I was going to play the safe shot anyway, but my teammates made my choice all the more simple. My second shot came to rest on the fairway with a much more manageable shot across the hazard toward the green. We finished the hole with a less-than-flashy par, but at least it wasn’t a 12.

Safe shots may not win tournaments, but they also don’t loose them. Worth considering when faced with the golfer’s dilemma.


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The Summit Daily Updated May 8, 2014 08:19PM Published Jun 12, 2013 11:22AM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.