For many of us who see golf as fun but also as a constant struggle, one of the biggest demons waiting out there on the course is water.

Water gives life. Scientists constantly remind us that life can’t exist without it. 

As someone who wholeheartedly supports science and scientists, I beg to differ.

I could exist on any golf course without water.

Many recreational golfers have a phobia about hitting over water. For those who fit in that category, I feel your pain. The only way I could be certain of not hitting a ball into a water hazard would be the very unlikely case of trying to drown one. Not sure why I’d do that on purpose, but I digress…

The occasional golf teacher and even less occasional friend have tried to help me through this trauma over the years. Their advice typically is all wet, but I’ll pass their words along in case they might help others.

  • “Just pretend the water isn’t there.”

       I tried this. But, if the water isn’t there, why is my ball wet?

  • “When you swing, look way over the water, maybe at the tops of the trees behind the green.”

       Tried this, too. As I elevated my gaze to the tall pines behind the third green, concentrating on keeping the water out of my mental framing, I missed the ball.

  • “Take an extra club. If you’re nervous trying to cross the water, you’re likely going in it. But if you club up by one, that will give you a better chance.”

       Tried it. Hit the club perfectly, of course, which sent the ball sailing past the green. And into a depression that, because of recent rain, was filled with water.

  • “Tee the ball higher. You’ll get it in the air quicker.”

       Line drive. Straight into the water.

  • “Pretend there’s a Bassmasters fishing tournament going on and the lake is full of boats and dedicated competitors. You wouldn’t want to hit them, would you?”

       Don’t give me a challenge like this.

  • “Every time you come to a par 3 that’s over water, you reach deep in your bag and pull out a very used, dirty ball because you’re assuming you’re going to find the pond. This is self-defeating. Unpack a brand new Pro V1 and hit it like you know how much it costs.”

       Lesson learned: The Pro V1 makes a much more impressive splash than run-of-the-mill balls. And it costs so much I won’t be able to buy a snack at the turn.

  • “You’re panicking and holding the club too tight. Loosen up on the grip.”

       No. I’ve lost too many balls in ponds. My 9 iron is staying dry.

  • “Pretend the pond is frozen over with ice. That way even if you hit it the ball will slide across to the other side.”

Now we’re playing hockey?

Clearly, this is a dilemma, but I do have a workable answer. During the COVID crisis, our group has considered bunkers ground-under-repair because there have been no rakes. You get a free drop out of bunkers. Until the virus completely disappears and every person in the lower 48 has been vaccinated, I’m going to consider ponds water-under-repair.

Free drops for everybody.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.