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Don’t let the dreaded double-bogey ruin your round

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Even pro golfers make double-bogeys.

In fact, I can say with great certainty that everyone reading this is among that wide fraternity, which includes pretty much all golfers everywhere, of double-bogeyers.

Why then should we be so upset about something that happens to everyone and happens with some degree of regularity?

Because it hurts, that’s why. It hurts our pride and our egos and even more importantly, it hurts our scorecard. There’s never a good time to make a double-bogey, but there are times that are worse than others.

A first-hole double, I think, is really a bad start to the day. I’ve recovered from them before to shoot good rounds, but maybe just as often — or maybe more often — I’ve let that initial failure and frustration become the theme for the day.

“Where’d you make your last double?” I asked Adam as his clubs were being cleaned after his round at Graethope GC.

“No. 5,” he answered and I figured that meant he played well.

“What happened?”

“Had about 160 in after a decent drive but I pushed it into the sand. Splashed out but the ball got caught in the heavy patch in front of the green, chipped five feet past the flag and missed the putt coming back.”

“Let’s see, how did I make that double on 12?” Carl said to himself when I asked. “Hit it in the water, took a drop, hit it on, three-putted.”

“A par-4?” I asked.

“No, three-par.”

“Then that was a 6, a triple,” I said.

“Ah,” was his only response.

I asked a 20-something golfer who was making the turn at Coyote Trails if he’d had any doubles on the front.

“Just one,” he said. “Fourth hole. My drive was just barely in the rough but it was in deep. Tried to muscle it up near the green but the grass was too thick and I only hit it 40 yards. Hit a 9-iron from there but missed the green, hole-high right, sitting down. Got it out to 12 feet and missed the putt.”

“Sounds like if your tee shot stayed in the fairway you probably wouldn’t have made double,” I consoled him.

“Yeah, it’s the heaviest rough I’ve seen on the front nine, and I was just lucky enough to find it.”

Finding double isn’t that hard if you look on the scorecards of most golfers. And if you’re playing in a tournament that isn’t at the top-handicap levels, you should expect that almost everyone in the field will make at least one. In fact, even Jordan Spieth made a double while winning the Masters this year.

“You can’t let it ruin your round,” Harry told me in the bar at Castlestone. “At least not the first one. But if you have more than one double, your score is in trouble.”

For some players, a double-bogey is a motivator.

“When I have a double early in the round I know I can recover,” Big Dave explained while eating a hot dog at the halfway house. “But the late double, that’s the round-wrecker.”

I asked him if there was such a thing as a good double-bogey and he gave me a real quizzical look like, what are you thinking? Or, it’s a good thing you don’t make your living asking people questions.

“Nah, well, sure,” he considered for a moment. “It’s better than a triple, right? I guess the only really good double would be if you hit your tee shot out-of-bounds. Then you’re at least making par off your second ball.”

What’s the worst double?

“On 18, for sure,” Carmen told me. “Man, if you have a decent round going, finishing with a double just ruins it. And then that might be the last hole you play for a week and you have that to remember.”

Carmen’s friend Tim had a different idea. “When you give yourself a chance for an up-and-down par and then three-putt. That’s the worst double.”

“Especially if it’s on 18,” I said.

“Or if you hit a great drive and then mess up and make a double with a wedge in your hand,” Carmen warmed to the topic. “Or when you take two shots to get out of the sand and still don’t get on the green. Then you have to get up and down just to save your double.”

If it happens early in the round, Big Dave said, that kind of a scrambling double can give a player some positive momentum to go with the two extra strokes.

“Averting a real disaster, a triple or worse, by making a good putt, sure, that fires me up,” he said. “Then you have to focus on the next couple of holes and make smart pars or if you can, a birdie.”

No matter how well you finish though, that double will always be a blemish on your scorecard.

“Not always,” Karen told me as she and three friends got ready to hit the newly painted pink tees at a Palm Springs course. “We don’t hit the ball a long ways, or always straight; some long holes, a double is like a par.” It made me remember when I first started keeping score and doubles to a beginner were neither rare nor unexpected.

“It’s part of the price of doing business,” Adrian told me at Granite Springs. “I’m a long hitter and they don’t always go straight. But if I can get a couple of putts for eagle in a round, then I make up for the double,” and I accepted that he was talking about a game I wasn’t personally familiar with.

I am familiar enough with doubles though. They can happen on par-3s, par-4s and par-5s. Sometimes they start instantly from a troubled drive, sometimes they creep up on you as you battle to save a bogey, and sometimes they surprise you, the unexpected three-putt.

A double is the occasional failure that unites us as golfers. As bad as it is though, it still beats a triple.

How did you make your last double? Let us know in the comments section below. And check out the inspirational story of one golfer trying to shoot the round of his life at 7-ironpress.com. The book is called A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth and you can get free shipping on the paperback with the code GOLFWRX, or $4 off the e-book when you enter the code GOLFWRX1 at check-out. It’s a great Father’s Day gift.

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Tom Hill is a 9.7 handicap, author and former radio reporter. Hill is the author of the recently released fiction novel, A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth, a humorous golf saga of one player’s unexpected attempt to shoot a score he never before thought possible. Kirkus Reviews raved about A Perfect Lie, (It) “has the immediacy of a memoir…it’s no gimme but Hill nails it square.” (kirkusreviews.com). A Perfect Lie is available as an ebook or paperback through 7-ironpress.com and the first three chapters are available online to sample. Hill is a dedicated golfer who has played more than 2,000 rounds in the past 30 years and had a one-time personal best handicap of 5.5. As a freelance radio reporter, Hill covered more than 60 PGA and LPGA tournaments working for CBS Radio, ABC Radio, AP Audio, The Mutual Broadcasting System and individual radio stations around the country. “Few knew my name and no one saw my face,” he says, “but millions heard my voice.” Hill is the father of three sons and lives with his wife, Arava Talve, in southern California where he chases after a little white ball as often as he can.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. erick

    May 30, 2015 at 12:44 am

    Was on the brink of shooting 67 for the round coming onto hole 17 223 yard par 3 over water (this hole always gets backed up… so we had to wait a good while before teeing offas you can imagine.. rhythm is now broken and thinking about things i shouldnt be.) grabbed my 4 iron to land about 7 paces on and release to the green… shank the first all day… right into the water hazard. took my drop 125 out hit it fat (chunk n run unintentionally) left 30 feet for bogey. missed the bogey put and in for double… sheesh.. THANKS PUBLIC COURSE BACKUP!

  2. Jamie

    May 28, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Back the double up with at least a Par and it doesn’t hurt as much. Great feeling to play a round with no doubles though.

  3. Happyday_J

    May 28, 2015 at 2:07 am

    I think there is such thing as a good double. When you double a difficult par 4 after a lost ball on your tee-shot (we dont have the luxury the pros have with marshals up ahead spotting balls). In actuality, a double after a lost ball is a par with one bad swing. Are you happy about the double, not really, but you can take something from playing the hole well, save for one bad swing the turned out unlucky. EVERYONE makes bad swings, you were just unfortunate to not be able to find it.

  4. Bobtrumpet

    May 27, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    A double on a par 5 is the worst for me. I just can’t stand looking at a “7” on the card.

  5. Billy Dirtbike

    May 27, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Pointless article

  6. aaron

    May 27, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    was 1 over going into the 15th hole. 15 at riverdale dunes is basically the 18th at tpc sawgrass (water up the holes left side all the way from tee to green. railties let the water get close). Pushed the drive right, found an awkward downhill/left leaning lie in the rough. got the ball to 20yards short of the green from there. had to go over a mound to the green but my flop shot just got too far under the ball and I hung up in the rough short of the green. chip came up 4 feet short, pulled the easy putt….managed to par in from there, so at least I didn’t let it totally ruin the round!

    • Double Mocha Man

      May 27, 2015 at 7:51 pm

      Sounds familiar. Couple weeks ago I was 2 under (rare territory) going into the 15th hole at my favorite course. Thinking I had a shot at a 69 (It’s been years) with one birdie in the last 4 holes. Short par 4. Managed a triple without even losing a ball! Parred in for a disappointing 73. Almost any other day I’d be smiling with that score.

    • Brian

      May 28, 2015 at 1:07 am

      Funny, I made par on 15 last weekend and just felt like I’d gotten away with murder. That’s a tough hole, ESPECIALLY if you’re playing from the back tees.

  7. other paul

    May 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    My last round I played 9 holes. Two bogeys, two birdies, and one double bogey that hit the water in the middle of the fairway. Damn blind tee shot. Could have made par for the first time ever on 9 if it wasn’t for that.

  8. brian d

    May 27, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    a pro double is like a triple for me haha

  9. Leslie Chow

    May 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Golf is a collection of 18 individual holes. I try and put together a scorecard much in the same way and forget labels while I’m playing like birdie, bogey, pars, and eagles. Just saying the different names associated with a score has a different feeling attached and I don’t want to take those feelings to the next hole even if it’s a positive feeling from a birdie because those can be just as dangerous as negative feelings. Typically for me a score like a double in a tournament will cause me to focus more on course management and I’ll usually play more conservative but birdies can cause me to feel better about my game than it really is and may be the cause of an bad decision off the tee leading to a double. Either way golf, even when playing a score should be approached like match play, write down a number and move on to the next hole and start the process over.

  10. Cliff

    May 27, 2015 at 11:46 am

    i’m OK with a double as long as I have a birdie to cover it!

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