Every time you have the privilege of playing golf, you have choices. Driver or 3-wood? Go for it or lay up? And, when you’re done, burger or salad?
But the decisions go well beyond that. A lot of times, there’s no right or wrong – it’s a matter of personal preference. That’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes it our great game.
So here are a bunch of other A or B selections. The next time you’re waiting for that slow-footed group in front of you to putt out, pass the time with a mini-debate:
Flagstick in the hole or flagstick out?
Of all the new rules that went into effect this year, here’s the one I find most perplexing. More and more professionals are leaving the pin in when they putt, and I thought for sure that amateurs would follow suit.
But that’s not what I’m seeing … or hearing.
I still like to take the pin out unless it’s a severely downhill putt and there’s a clear advantage to leaving it in. I find it weird and distracting to have it in the hole.
But I’m hardly the only one. Just about everyone I’ve played with feels the same way or just doesn’t care, and when I look around the course I don’t see many people putting with the flagstick in.
Line or no line drawn on ball?
Here’s another example of something that’s supposed to help you – but not everyone is comfortable with it. Again, I’m not. Like having the pin in, I find it distracting to look at that line when I’m putting.
But I know a lot of people, especially the pros, spend hours using various gadgets to draw those lines, so maybe I’m just failing to see the benefit.
I saw something new recently while watching the PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. Nate Lashley, who won the tournament, doesn’t just have the straight line on his ball, he has what looks like a frown underneath it – only it has the appearance of a straight line when he looks down at it. Who knows? Maybe that’s the Next Big Thing.
Sand shot or chip?
The pros always tell you they’d rather hit out of the bunker in most cases around the green. I didn’t always feel that way, but I’ve come around. It’s actually an easier shot if you just execute the basic fundamentals.
Not every driving range has a practice bunker, and if there is one I don’t usually see a lot of people utilizing it. Big mistake. We should be spending a lot more time on that shot than we do trying to hit the driver as far as we can.
Short but tricky par-4 or short but tricky par-5?
Pros love par-5s. In an average round, they expect to play the par-5s in at least 2-under. And I agree – it’s the obvious place to score, especially if one or two of the long holes aren’t that long.
But I think most of us are fascinated by drivable par-4s. It just feels so good to get your tee shot on the green and be putting for eagle right away.
Of course, it doesn’t feel good at all when you take a chance off the tee and walk away from one of those holes with a double bogey. That’s one of those times when a double feels like a quadruple.
Sunrise golf or sunset golf?
We were talking about it just the other morning – as nice as it is to get out there early and zip around the course, the dew can do you wrong. The ball doesn’t go as far, especially if it’s foggy or extra wet, it can take longer to warm up and having water or mud on your ball is annoying.
The major challenge with sunset golf is that the greens often are chewed up, but there’s something special about ending the day with our favorite activity. I’ll take sunset.
OK, last one: Watching the Masters or The Open Championship?
If you like to watch golf on television, this probably is a tough choice. The Masters and Augusta National are so iconic, it’s always fascinating to watch the pros navigate the scene.
But there’s something about golf in Great Britain and Scotland – and, this month, Northern Ireland – that makes it must-see TV for me. The wind. The weird holes. The crowds.
Oh, and one other thing: I love the fact that it’s over by 10 or 11 a.m. West Coast time, giving us the rest of the day to get out there and play. That’s the easiest choice of all.