Playing a shot over water can be one of the most anxious times on the golf course for any golfer, regardless of experience and ability.
This is especially true when the water is on a par-3 hole and there is no other choice but to play the shot, from the tee, over the water to reach the green. Whether the water is a stream, river, pond, lake or the ocean, the tendency is to aim across the narrowest section of the water as a safety-first mechanism, but this is not always the best option.
Yes, the ball will have less water to carry but unless the flag is positioned over that side of the green, you could end up a long way from the hole. There could also be other dangers waiting for you including rough and bunkers.
To play a successful shot over water to a par-3 green, you must commit to the shot and play it with the conviction it will go straight and true.
If you aim to play the shot over the water, to the middle of the green and it travels straight, you will be in the centre of the green and have a putt for birdie. If the ball happens to move to the left or right, you could still end up on the green or off to one side but your ball will be dry.
To land close to the hole, the shot may need a fade or draw but do not be tempted to try either if you do not usually play the shot well. A par-3 over water is not the time to start trying something new and you should never aim in the direction a straight ball flight will see you land in trouble. Stick to the shot you know.
A common mistake many beginners make when playing a shot over water on a par-3 is to hit the ball as hard as possible to ensure it safely carries the water. This is a mistake and could lead to the ball travelling a shorter distance or off target. Committing to the shot does not mean hitting the ball as hard as possible.
Instead, take an extra club and think about taking an easy, relaxed swing. By hitting the ball at 80% of your maximum swing power and knowing the distance to the pin, you can take an extra club and swing easy, making sure of a great contact and good shot over the water.