I was watching Morning Drive on the Golf Channel a few days ago. They were discussing the value, or lack of value, in scoreboard watching. It seems that William McGirt told Tiger Woods that he (McGirt) never looked at a scoreboard to see where he stood during the back nine, and Tiger said something to the effect of “You’re an idiot.” McGirt has since changed his ways and came in at a tie for second last week in Mississippi.
We don’t have scoreboards to watch in the tournaments I play in, but it’s always seemed to me that the value of knowing where you stand relative to the field depends on whether you can do anything with that information. Most of us can barely control where the ball is going on any given shot, so knowing that we should go for it or play safe is a crapshoot anyway. McGirt and Tiger have a much better chance of making use of the information.
I’ve won more tournaments by waiting for my opponents to make a mistake than by trying to do something special in an effort to win. If I need to make a long putt and I concentrate on “Be sure to get it there,” I’m more likely to miss long than make. My long putting skill, such as it is, lies in nestling up near the hole for a tap in. Sometimes they go in. If I try to make sure the putt gets there I’ll probably hit it through the break and have a tough 3 or 4 footer coming back, if I’m lucky.
I’d like to say that I’m sticking to my game plan, but that implies more choice and control than I realistically have. It’s more accurate to say that I’m sticking to what I think I might be able to execute properly, even if it looks like a cowardly plan from the outside. I’m laying up with a pitching wedge on that par 5 because I just might worm-burn my fairway metal into the hazard. The lay up probably gives me a better chance at birdie than going for it in 2. I’m no William McGirt, much less a Tiger Woods.
On the other hand, I remember that towering fairway metal shot I once hit into the green on the 13th hole, and ….
As Roberto DeVicenzo famously said, “What a stupid I am!”