What is the most important shot in golf? One side of the argument is for the tee shot, and the other side is for the putt.
By Pat Dolan
- 4 min read.
Teeing off at Picacho Hills Golf Course in Las Cruces, NM.
Photo by Jason Pofahl / Unsplash
The Most Important Golf Shot
For years in many locker rooms and clubhouses, one of the main topics of discussion has been, "What is the most important shot in golf?" One side of the argument is for the tee shot, and the other side is for the putt.
One of the strongest proponents for the tee shot was Ben Hogan. In the early 1960's, while a teaching pro at The Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, I discussed this with Ben, and he felt strongly that a players tee shot was THE most important shot.
It was Ben's fervent belief, that from a mental standpoint, one's whole round depended on the initial tee shot. He claimed to have rarely witnessed or been part of a great round that started with an errant tee shot. He believed that when you begin with an excellent tee shot, your mental attitude would carry forward on all successive shots.
On the other side, many argue that the putt is the most important. One such advocate was the legendary teaching pro Harvey Penick, who strongly believed that the short game, around the green, was the essence of scoring well. He contended that a two foot putt counted just as much as a tee shot.
This argument did not hold water with Ben. Adamantly he stated, "If you are trying to make a two foot putt for a seven, due to an errant tee shot, who in the hell cares? After all, a missed two foot putt will generally only cost you one shot, whereas a missed tee shot can easily cost you two or more shots."
After listening to Ben's logic, I calmly explained, that in my humble opinion, I thought both sides were wrong. This definitely got Ben's attention. I hurriedly added, that while both sides had made good arguments, I considered Willie Ogg's, the original teaching professional selected and respected by the membership of the PGA to conduct business school teaching seminars, to have been the best. You see he told us that the most important shot in golf is always "the next one."
Hogan laughed out loud and completely agreed. (And some of you thought he was always "the wee ice-man.") So the next time you overhear the discussion about the most important shot in golf, just sit back and laugh to yourself because you already know the Real Truth.
Sincerely, a friend to any golfer. Pat Dolan Golf Pro.
About the Author
Pat Dolan, Golf Professional, specialized in teaching for over 42 years.
The late Pat Dolan taught golf at such prestigious golf courses as "The Colonial Country Club" in Fort Worth, Texas, "The Country Club" in Salt Lake City, Utah and "The Palm Springs Country Club" in the world famous golfing resort of Palm Springs, California. He was the Head Professional at the "The Russell Municipal Golf Course" in Russell, Kansas, "The Jal Country Club" in Jal, New Mexico and "The Riveria Golf Course" in Palm Springs, California. He graduated from the second PGA school in January 1958. It was held at the PGA National Headquarters in Dunedin, Florida. He served as chairman of the education committee for the New Mexico Chapter of the Southwest Section of the PGA for 2 years 1965 and 1966.
Golfers Lee Trevino, Sandra Palmer, Carlynne Whitworth and General James Wilson sought his advice before they became famous.
In his playing career he won a number of professional tournaments and set 7 course records.
He wrote "How to Turn Bogeys Into Birdies" (c)1988" and "The Worlds Greatest Golf Teacher" (c)1994. Pat also authored two newspaper golf columns and a golf advice letter Golfers Improving Easily and Affordably, guaranteed to instantly improve any golfers game.
His business career included serving as consultant to many golf course owners and The Tony Llama Boot Co. The Braille Institute and the John Riley Golf Co. also as loan officer of the Clarendon Trust Co. in Arlington, Virginia and sales manager for various companies. He is the designer of the Sure Out sand wedge in the Ben Hogan line of clubs.
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