Blind Shots in Golf: What They Are, How to Play Them

A "blind shot" in golf is one the golfer plays without being able to see the intended target. For example, if you are standing in the fairway but cannot see the putting green from your location, you are playing a blind shot into the green.

Golfers are split on whether blind shots are fun or not, on whether blind shots add to the challenge or are just unfair. Golf course designers are pretty united in their attitudes, however: From the architect's perspective, a blind shot is something worth considering but definitely also something to avoid overusing. But there are some architects (and definitely many golfers) who do not like them at all. (See Alister Mackenzie's 13 principles of golf course design.)

So blind shots are not common on golf courses, but they aren't rare, either. Most golfers will encounter one from time to time.

The word "blind," as an adjective meaning hidden from view, has been part of golf since at least the second half of the 1800s. A bunker set down low in such a way that the golfer cannot see it before playing a stroke in its direction is, as an example, a "blind bunker."

If you are standing on the teeing area and cannot see your target, your landing area, down the fairway, then you are playing a blind drive, or a blind shot from the tee.

And what would cause you to be unable to see the ideal landing area? On a tee shot, perhaps you are playing to an uphill fairway that reaches a crest before going back downhill, and your target is on the other side of that crest. Perhaps there are trees, bushes, mounding or hills between you and the area you are hoping to hit.

The most common blind shots in golf are the ones described above from the tee, and shots into greens that are fully or partially hidden by hills our mounding, so that you cannot see the surface of the green from where you are hitting.

How do you play a blind shot? First, consult available sources of information: Does the scorecard have hole schematics? What about the signage at the teeing area? Do you have a yardage book to consult, or even a caddie who can instruct? Golfers today have access to something that makes blind shots much easier than in the old days — golf GPS devices (affiliate link) that can show what the hole looks like and give you the yardage to the flagstick.

And in most cases you can probably walk ahead or to one side or the other to get a view of your target. You want to pick out your line of play, and then look for something on that line of play to use as a target once you get back to your ball. That might be something in the distance (tree, structure, power tower, for example) behind your blind target, or something on the ground in-between you and the point where you lose sight of the target (bare spot in the grass, tuft of grass sticking up, weed, etc.). Once back to your ball, you can use that object to correctly line yourself up for the shot to the blind target.

Once you've chosen your line and yardage, commit to the shot and go. It can feel strange to a recreational golfer to be hitting towards something you can't see, which is why picking out some other target to align oneself with is so important.

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