Of all the shots we have watched during the Ryder Cup, there’s one that always will stand out for many of us:
Jordan Spieth almost jumped in the lake.
Just as notably, he put the ball on the green from an absolutely impossible stance and lie.
In case you didn’t see it, check out this story with the video and what he said about it.
It’s the kind of shot that is comically common at Whistling Straits. It has been humorous to see the pros in all sorts of precarious predicaments alongside Lake Michigan.
But the challenge Spieth faced was downright dangerous. The ball was right against the wall of grass next to the 17th green, and he had to prop his left foot against the wall just to swing the club.
The momentum of swinging the club took him severely backward, so much so that he would have fallen and possibly injured himself if he hadn’t run nimbly down the hill toward the water, desperately looking for a flat spot where he could stop. A couple more steps and he would have been in the lake.
Even more remarkably, he hit the ball straight up, far into the air, and it landed softly on the green, close to the pin. Justin Thomas missed the putt in the alternate-shot competition, guaranteeing a loss to Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia in the match, but they all were stunned by what they saw.
We see shots like that out there sometimes. If we’re lucky and maybe if we practice them, we execute them ourselves. It’s just one more thing I love about our great game – the golf course is like a laboratory, and some experiments ought to be in a scientific journal.
It also got me thinking about some of the most creative shots I have seen from impossible stances and lies.
The one that sticks out from my caddying days as a teenager was the time a guy’s ball was right in front of a small bush about 2 feet high. If he had followed through, he probably would have snapped the club in two.
So he did something I have never seen since: He took a full swing, made solid contact and then dropped the club. That’s right – he flat-out let go of it and let it fall harmlessly to the ground.
It’s one thing to chop down on it and avoid following through, but to drop it and still execute the shot? That’s skill. He put it on the green.
I’ve never done anything like that, and I certainly haven’t faced a shot as difficult as Spieth’s. But I have been in the trees my share of times and have hit some good shots through, under and over the lumber.
I’ve been there so much, in fact, that I might be more comfortable hitting a punch through the trees than I am trying to hit the green from outside 150 yards. I know I can hit that low shot because I’ve practiced it so many times. Virtually every range session ends with low punches – hooks and cuts – to remind myself how to hit that shot.
People watching me might wonder why I’m trying to hit a 3-iron 5 feet off the ground, but there’s a method behind the madness. It’s probably going to be needed in every other round, minimum.
But my most bizarre moment in our great game occurred years ago while playing a course near San Jose. As I walked to the tee, I noticed a massive snake right between the markers.
I mean, this was one of the biggest snakes I’ve ever seen anywhere, even in a zoo. It had to be at least 6 feet long, and it was thick. Truly a big fella.
I don’t know what we would have done if it had been a tournament, but I was playing some sunset golf by myself and did the only logical thing: I walked about 20 yards ahead to tee it up.
You’re supposed to look at the target ahead of you when you’re playing a shot, but I also had my eye behind me. I made sure that thing wasn’t moving toward me. And then I hit the drive and got out of there.
That’s about the only thing Jordan Spieth didn’t have to deal with on that crazy shot – a big snake. I hope there aren’t any snakes in all those impossible places at Whistling Straits. Otherwise, you might see one of those pros running for a different reason.