H is for Hero. Don’t be one. We all try to be a hero at some stage when golfing in Thailand by hitting a 250 yard 3 wood over water, around trees, or to one of those sucker pins cut 5 feet from the water at a course like Alpine Golf Club. If you don’t care about your score, go ahead and hit that shot, or for that matter try your 7 iron after you hit an errant tee shot into the Thai jungle. You have a 1% chance to advance your ball through that opening in the trees the size of a keyhole. You may make it, and maybe that one shot keeps you coming back to the golf courses in Thailand.
However, if you want to play golf in Thailand and shoot well, or get your handicap down, then play the percentages. Sometimes, off the fairway at most Thai golf courses this may mean not hitting directly at the hole, but off to the safe side of the green. By doing so, more often than, you’ll avoid a big blow up hole, which is common with what I refer to as the Hero Golfer.
Playing the percentages means that you shouldn’t hit a shot unless you are quite certain you can pull it off most of the time, and how many times depends on the situation. Knowing when to be a hero and when to back off is also critical when golfing for a good score. Let’s say your in Phuket at newly remodeled Blue Canyon Lakes Course and on the par 5, 18th hole and shooting one of your best rounds ever, with a chance to break 80. You hit your second shot to the left and are behind some trees needing a miracle hook to get it on the green. That’s a green light to go for the hero shot. A good shot will get you a birdie and that much coveted below 80 score, a poor shot, at worst, will still leave you for a possible par, or worst bogey.
On the other hand, let’s say you are golfing in Chiang Mai and are playing a round at Gassan Khutan with 3 other friends who have been golfing with you all week. You have organized a friendly match play tournament and after 4 rounds you’re one up on the final hole. You hit your drive into the trees on the par 4 18th hole and have 2 options; hitting it out through the trees and over the sand bunker fronting the green directly to the pin or playing it backwards into the fairway. The not so fun, but obvious choice is to play the safe shot into the fairway, and then hit on to the green for a possible par or worse bogey. In this later case, even if your opponent makes par, you can still win the event in a sudden death playoff.
Being a hero also depends on how you’ve been hitting it that day. For me, I will generally play the hero shot if I’m hitting it solidly as I don’t care too much about my score these days, but rather like to have fun when golfing at most of the Bangkok golf courses. On the other hand even if I’m golfing alone or at a new course outside of Bangkok and if my ball striking hasn’t been on, I will choose to hit a safe shot.
It all comes down to knowing your own abilities. Most Thailand golf travelers and high handicappers tend to overestimate their abilities. The general rule is, when you get into trouble get yourself out of it. How many times have you seen your playing partner hit it into the trees, and then emerge three, four or five shots later? Don’t let that be you!
Leave the hero shots for the golf professionals and golfers with big egos. Yes, it feels great to pull off a hard shot, but the scorecard doesn’t know how you made par (or any score), so play on the safe side and don’t be a hero!