Golf Potpourri
Mac Stevenson


Confidence is Indispensable in Club Selection


Your confidence in a particular club is the most important factor in selecting the method and club you decide to use on certain shots. You are the best judge of your skill level and what you should or should not try on a particularly challenging shot. Whether or not you are confident in the final club selection will determine success or failure in most cases.

Whenever possible choose a club that you have confidence in on exacting shots that challenge your skill level. If you’re indecisive, it’s possible you will try and hit a shot or club that leads to a poor result. On any difficult shot, use a club and technique that you’re completely comfortable with. That sounds easy, but it isn’t. When your confidence is lacking, it’s difficult indeed to proceed and hit a successful shot.

There are numerous instances when it’s difficult to determine which shot you should try to play:

  • When you’re in the short fringe, just off the putting surface, should you use your putter or hit a chip shot with a lofted club? That depends entirely on how you feel about the shot; use the method that feels right at the time.

  • When you have a fairly long shot into the green, should you hit a long iron or one of your lofted fairway woods, such as a 5-wood or 7-wood? For most players, the fairway wood is easier to hit, but it all depends on your skill level and the club you have the most confidence in. There’s no substitute for feeling good about a shot before you hit it.

  • How you approach a particular putt may vary greatly from hole to hole. Whether or not you should be aggressive may depend on the situation during the heat of competition. And the slope of the green comes into play. Try and approach every putt with a strategy that gives you confidence.

  • Should you play a medium-range approach shot directly at a difficult pin or go for the middle of the green. No one can tell you what you should do at a particular moment during an important round. But in most cases you’ll be better off if you listen to your inner self and go with the shot you feel comfortable with.

  • On an approach shot, should you try and hit a pitching wedge hard or use a smooth 9-iron? This is just an example, but you will know, down deep, which shot you should hit. No one knows your game better than you do.

  • When you have an approach shot just off the green, should you hit a chip shot or a pitch shot. It’s often the case where either shot has a chance to be successful; you should use whichever shot feels right to you at that moment.

These are just a few of the examples that could fill a book. While watching TV, when you see a pro hit a lob shot just off the green don’t think that’s a shot you should start using. That’s inviting disaster. Use unemotional judgment when you’re deciding how to play a certain shot, and then use the club you feel confident with.

If you fear a certain shot—such as a chip shot, rather than putting from off the green—then practice the chip shot until you have confidence using it. Putting through a lot of fringe doesn’t work out well over the long run and you’ll be ahead of the game if you practice your chip shots until you have the needed confidence in that shot.

Videos are helpful because they give you the proper fundamentals for various shots. That gives you the tools you need for constructive practice that results in increased confidence on troublesome shots during important rounds.

As an example, if you dread a certain type pitch- or chip shot, buy videos about the short game and work on that shot until you have the confidence to use it during competition. Golf magazines can help too, but there’s nothing better than watching the shot being hit properly.

When you try a shot that the pros use—and you don’t have confidence in it—you’re asking for trouble. If you go ahead and foul up, you’ll know you should have gone with your gut feeling. And that’s almost as disturbing as the missed shot. Go with the shot that your inner self tells you has the best chance of being successful.