The best shots to play in golf – those shots that keep us coming back for more

But perhaps we tend to underestimate the anticipation of a great golf shot.

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The game of golf keeps us coming back for more courtesy of those shots we occasionally play that has some semblance of the game the professionals play. That 20-foot curling putt that rolls in, the drive that threads the bunkers or that holed chip-shot – they each stoke the golfing fire and solidifies why we love the game.

But perhaps we tend to underestimate the anticipation of a great shot. Those moments before we play a golf shot are some of the ones most valued on a golf course but often forgotten in the thrill or anger that follows the ball being hit.

We’ve covered some of the game’s most frightening shots here before, but in the interest of staying positive and trying to balance the ledger, we list some of our favourite golf shots to play, simply because of the thrill of the moment just before you hit the golf ball.

1. That shot over the water
Many golf architects roll their eyes at the artificial lake or pond that has been added to a golf course, but the thrill of negotiating a water hazard (artificial or not) is one few of us can deny.

The all-or-nothing aspect of cutting off the corner of the lake or traversing a creek to a tightly-tucked flagstick is one of the reasons we play the game. And in those moments before we hit the ball, the world is great and your golf ball is still dry.

2. The 8-foot putt to claim victory
Claiming victory in the club competition, against a mate or in a major championship are all special moments, but to do so by holing a putt somewhere in the 6 – 10 foot range is probably the one we most look forward to.

Anything closer to the hole is somewhat more expected and missing the putt would be a surprise that would live long in the dark memories of missed putts.

Sinking a long putt to win would certainly raise the roof but it’s those tantalisingly gettable 8-footers and the preceding moments spent lining up the putt that are the ones we live to make.

3. The short iron to a green in regulation
It’s hard to imagine life on the golf course gets any better than the moments before hitting a short iron into a green in regulation, and it’s the most exciting, anticipated shot for most golfers.

It comes preceded by a good tee shot to get you into the position in the first place – so your confidence is high. And now you have a short iron in your hand and your golf ball is on a good lie. It could arguably be thought of as the easiest shot in golf. It feels doable and it’s a shot you’ve hit well before. Get this right and you’re within reach of a birdie.

4. The downhill par-3 tee shot
You can see the flag, the geography of the land is on your side and the fact you can club down feels like the golfing gods are urging you to succeed. It’s as though all you need to do is keep your head down, get the ball in the air and gravity will do the rest. Simple, right?

5. That big, long shaping shot
This shot isn’t one that everyone can pull off but it’s the thought that counts. And it’s the thought that is ultimately the thrill – 4-iron, fade it around the trees to bring it bouncing into the green between the bunkers. If you can ignore the thought that it’s a low percentage shot and potentially a very bad idea, you’re good to go and it feels great.

6. The opening tee shot
The first tee shot of the day can be a daunting one, especially if there are people watching, if it’s your first swing in months or you’ve come straight from the car park.

But in those moments before taking your first shot for the day you can smile and be glad to be out playing golf. You’ve yet to make a bad swing, you’ve yet to miss a putt and you’ve got four hours playing the greatest game on earth ahead of you.

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Inside Golf where Michael Green writes a monthly column.

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