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The Most Important Golf Shot

"The Most Important Golf Shot" (c)1998 Pat Dolan Golf Pro

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.

a friend to any golfer,
Pat Dolan Golf Pro
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