2013 Travelers Championship

I spent a nice north­woods Sun­day after­noon indoors catch­ing up on some com­put­er work. The bright side is that it gave me a chance to watch the final round of the Trav­el­ers Cham­pi­onship. It was an excit­ing back nine with Ken Duke, Gra­ham DeLaet, and Chris Stroud all hav­ing a shot at their first PGA Tour vic­to­ry. Ulti­mate­ly it was Ken Duke stick­ing his approach shot to with­in three feet of the pin on the sec­ond play­off hole to set­up his vic­to­ry over Chris Stroud.

It was great to see the jour­ney­man Ken Duke get his first win, but the tour­na­ment was Bub­ba Watson’s to lose as he got to the 178 yard par 3 16th hole. At the time, he held a one shot lead over Ken Duke. Bub­ba pro­ceed­ed to hit a 9 iron short of the green with his ball bounc­ing off the hill fronting the green and into the water. A tense exchange with his cad­die Ted Scott regard­ing club selec­tion soon fol­lowed for the lis­ten­ing plea­sure of the TV audi­ence. He then hit his third shot over the green from the drop zone which prompt­ed more words with his cad­die. A poor chip and a two putt leads to a triple bogey essen­tial­ly end­ing his hopes of win­ning the tour­na­ment.

There are a few things we can learn from Bubba’s melt­down on the 16th hole.

  • One bad shot does not cause a blow-up hole. Blow-up holes are caused by mul­ti­ple bad shots com­pound­ed on top of each oth­er. Bub­ba could have rebound­ed with a nice third shot from the drop zone or even a nice fourth shot from behind the green. Either would have avoid­ed a triple bogey.


  • Con­cen­trate on the cur­rent shot. This is eas­i­er said than done but pre­vi­ous shots are in the past and should remain there. If Bub­ba could have stuck his third shot from the drop zone close to the pin, every­one would be talk­ing about his great recov­ery on 16 that led him to vic­to­ry.


  • Remain calm. This is some­thing many ama­teur golfers strug­gle with. Our nat­ur­al ten­den­cy is to become frus­trat­ed. I believe Bub­ba would admit that it would have been best to talk it out with his cad­die after the round.


We can look at Ken Duke on the 18th hole for an exam­ple on how to respond after a bad shot. He came to the 18th with a one shot lead but hit a ter­ri­ble dri­ve way right into the rough. You could tell his nerves real­ly got the best of him. He did a great job of com­pos­ing him­self and instead of going for the green, took the shot he had, and hit a nice approach just off the left side of the green. From there, he was able to get up and down for par.

Blow-up holes are round killers for high hand­i­cap golfers and occa­sion­al­ly even for pros. Remain­ing calm and play­ing one shot at a time are the keys to recov­er­ing from a bad shot and avoid­ing blow-up holes.

Leave a Reply