When playing in casual groups, I’ve found that it’s a matter of good manners to complement your partners’ well played shots: “Nice drive” for particularly long pokes; “Good shot” for well struck irons; “Nice par” whenever appropriate; “Good save”; “Good putt”; And so on.
On a 525 yard par five recently, I uncorked the longest drive I’ve hit in years—a 300-plus yarder. The shot was soaring and long and straight down the middle. The ball bounced a couple of times and rolled for what seemed like ages.
My playing partner, Mike, said “Nice drive.”
For my second, I briefly considered a three wood to get to the green in two, but decided to lay to the 100 mark. Again, I stuck it well and Mike muttered “Nice shot.”
The shot played too well, though, and left me with 60 yards to the green. The flag was set just a couple of yards from the front. That’s a tricky shot: a three-quarter wedge with the potential to either come up short or – catching it thin – fly over the green. Three things could happen, and two of them were bad. To play it safe, I took out a seven iron and played a bump-and-run to a foot from the hole.
“I never would have thought of that,” Mike said. “Now THAT was a golf shot.”
I thought about that line over the next few holes. There is, I think, a discernible difference between a good shot, and a Golf Shot. An average amateur like myself might hit many good shots over the course of a round, but only one or two “golf shots.”
The drive was not a Golf Shot. It was just a long blast down the fairway; no thought there, nor planning. Neither was the second a Golf Shot. It was well struck, but I had intended to get to the 100 yard mark, where I could hit a full gap wedge into the green. Instead, I hit it too hard and left myself with a tricky third.
The bump-and-run was not pretty. Bounding and bouncing up to the green, it had none of the graceful arc of a lob off a sixty degree wedge. But it was a Golf Shot. It got the ball to the hole efficiently, and minimized the risk of error. I had considered all of my options, and successfully executed. It was exactly the play called for at that moment.
So on that shot, Mike had given me the best complement of all: I had made a golf shot.