Mastering the trouble shot: Try the L-A-U-G-H method for sure-fire help

By Reid Champagne, Contributor

You know the scene. Your foursome has teed off and the other three begin striding straight down the fairway to where their balls sit glistening like diamonds in the short grass.

You wave good-bye and head off to the right, into the great unknown feeling like a pith helmet and machete might be better equipment to be carrying for wherever it is your ball has wound up.

If you're a high handicapper like myself, you don't need to practice those trouble shots - you get more than enough practice during your round. But in order to master that shot and to be able to call on it as often as you'll have to, try using something I like to call the L-A-U-G-H method: Launch, Ask, Underbrush, Get, Hope.

I'll explain each step of L-A-U-G-H and I'm sure you'll find as I have, it is a completely reliable and almost foolproof addition to your golfing arsenal.

Launch: It all begins on the tee. First, forget all that hogwash about aligning yourself to the proper target. I rarely hit any I target I should be aiming for. Usually, I hit the right target by taking dead aim at the deep woods, letting my natural swing flaws occasionally carry me back to the short grass. Just sidle up to that Titleist x-out, giver her a waggle, and Launch that sucker!

And invariably, you will immediately be forced to Ask where it went. Hopefully, there's an eagle eye in your group who saw your drive either burn a few worms on its way toward the rough, or go ballooning high and deep to the right, catch a limb or a chimney, and disappear somewhere near a locatable landmark, such as a tree stump or a lawn ornament.

Otherwise, you and your group will be forced to scour blindly through the Underbrush looking for your ball, until the foursome behind you either signals for you to drop one, or you're forced to duck and cover as they somewhat condescendingly decide to drive into you.

Well, after they've hit and you finally happen upon your ball, you need to assess what kind of opening you have back into play. I have found that something with infrared capability can be quite helpful when those openings aren't necessarily visible to the naked eye.

At that point, then, you must haul a-- back to your cart and Get the right wedge all before the next foursome starts climbing up your back. Then haul a-- again back to your ball. Now if you were smart (and this is an acquired skill) you would have left a hat or a towel or some breadcrumbs showing you the way back to your ball. If not, you may as well let that other foursome play through too. No sense letting a little trouble shot lead to any physical altercations.

Finally, there is but one step left to my L-A-U-G-H method, and that is to Hope. Hope that you can get the clubface on the ball, hope it clears the obstruction(s) that would daunt even the most determined prison escapee, and hope you haven't hit it so pure and true that the ball sails over the landing area estimated for the expected mishit, and winds up in the wheatina on the other side of the fairway.

Look, hitting into trouble is a big part of golf; I know it's practically the whole part for me. But I'm a true believer in the L-A-U-G-H method, and I believe that if you, too, learn to L-A-U-G-H, you will find you're golfing experience to be more enjoyable, and one where you haven't spent the whole day getting to know the course ranger on a personal, first name basis.

Good Golfing!

Reid Champagne, Contributor

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