How To Make The Best Choice When Faced With A Water Hazard


Many of you struggle with water hazards because of the intimidation factor and the ramifications involved if they hit the ball into the water hazard. Depending on your skill level, you might want to play it safe and try to avoid the hazard as much as possible, or play a normal shot and pretend the hazard is not there. To make golf courses playable for everyone, each hole on the golf course will generally have a way to avoid the water hazard, if there is one, or play it safe. There are always exceptions to the rule when you are forced to carry a water hazard to reach the hole, but these holes are generally located on tougher golf courses where the average golfer might not feel comfortable playing. Below are a few things to consider to prepare yourself for playing a course with water hazards.

Practice The Situation On The Range

Even though the water hazard is not on the range, you can visualize it being there and practice hitting shots on to get more comfortable.

For example, if you regularly play on a golf course that has a hole where you’re forced to carry the ball 130 yards to reach the green, practice hitting the club in your bag that will hit it 130 yards.

Most golfers hit a few balls with each club in their bag while practicing on the range, but rarely hit each club while playing a round. Others will hit an entire bucket of balls with just their driver. Even though it might sound a little out of the ordinary, hitting a full bucket of balls with the club that you would hit 130 yards would be a smart idea. The next time you are faced a shot where you will need to carry the ball 130 yards over a water hazard, you ‘ll feel more comfortable and you won’t think about the water hazard as much.

Practice Different Lay Up Shots

Since most golfers only practice full shots on the range they become stressed when they are faced with a shot that requires a half or three quarter swing. The only way to get better at this is through practice.

One method to use on the range is to imagine a clock while hitting golf balls. If your normal full swing has your hands at the top of the golf swing in the 12 o’clock position, try to imagine stopping your hands at the 9 o’clock position and finishing at the 3 o’clock position during the swing. Once you get comfortable doing this, you can then alter your hand positions depending on how far you are trying to hit the golf ball.

This drill is very helpful if you’d like to lay up short of a water hazard and the shot required is less than a full-swing.

Taking A Different Route

Depending on where the water hazard is located, you might want to keep the driver in your bag and play the hole differently. Since golf is considered a game of misses, the best option might be to tee off with a hybrid, if hitting the driver will bring the water hazard into play.

Also, if there is a water hazard in front of the green, you might choose to play a little farther left or right of the green and have to rely on getting up and down to save par.

The end result might be a bogey on the hole, but at least playing it safe will take a double or triple-bogey out of the equation.

Quick Recap

1. Practice The Situation On The Range

The more comfortable you are hitting a shot without any consequences, the more comfortable you will be when faced with a hazard. Instead of hitting each of the clubs in your bag, hit a bucket of balls with the club you know will use to hit over a potential water hazard.

2. Practice Different Lay Up Shots

Another good idea to prepare for a water hazard is to practice hitting layup shots on the driving range. A drill that works well is to imagine a clock and stop your hands at 9 o’clock and finish at 3 o’clock to hit a shorter shot than a full swing.

3. Taking A Different Route

Sometimes playing the hole a little less traditionally is ideal. This might mean not teeing off with a driver, or hitting to the left or right of the green to avoid the water hazard.

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Emmett Brantly

Emmett Brantly has been a Class “A” member of the PGA of America since 2003. He graduated from Campbell University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Golf Management. He has worked in Public, Semi-Private, Private, and Resort golf facilities in Raleigh and Pinehurst North Carolina. He has also worked in various retail settings, as well as holding positions of PGA Teaching Professional at various academies including the Pinehurst Golf Academy. Emmett has a strong passion for growing the game of golf by displaying his extensive knowledge in club-fitting, teaching, fitness, and product knowledge.