Ko's 3-Wood Reminds Us What Shotmaking Can Be Like When The Professional Game Has Symmetry

If you haven't seen the shot, do check out Lydia Ko's 3-wood from Lake Merced and the 2018 MEDIHEAL Championship.

In her Golfweek account, Beth Ann Nichols called it "one of the most clutch 3-woods in LPGA history, negotiating a tree down the left side of the closing par 5 and nestling it in close for eagle. For a moment, an albatross was in the picture."

I want to highlight the shot for a host of reasons beyond the simple pleasure of watching someone with supernatural talents deliver so decisively under pressure. 

Some are wondering why the LPGA held more appeal in recent weeks and shots like Ko's bear greater study in the context of the distance and skill debate.


--The 18th hole for this particular event will never be confused with Augusta National's 13th, yet there was enough strategic interest to create intrigue: drive down the right side and get a better view of the green, drive left and perhaps shorten the approach, but also lose the better angle.

--In the playoff, Minjee Lee outdrove Ko by 30 yards, but as Golf Channel's Karen Stupples noted almost immediately, Ko would have the better angle due to an overhanging cypress tree and the shape of the alleyway approach. Check out this screen grab of Ko's angle, with Lee's ball down the left, just above Ko's waistline:

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--Since LPGA driving distances are of sane proportions for a majority of the golf courses on earth, even very simple architectural elements provided options, risks and nuanced reward in positioning. The execution by Ko was ultimately masterful, but she was given a canvas thanks to the firm ground conditions, immaculate turf and LMCC design to execute something special.

--Watching the way Ko's ball hit the ground and release toward the hole only added to the drama and beauty of the shot. If this were a 6-iron, as we see all too often hit into a par-5 by today's male players, the shot loses appeal. It's not something we talk about nor is it a shot that leaves us in awe of the players. Or, in modern parlance, we don't feel like we're living under par.

--The game is far more interesting to watch and play when angles have meaning and the ground can be used. Even a novice golf watcher can get a thrill from a shot like Ko's and appreciate that they saw something few humans could accomplish. 

--When the game is compelling because of the aforementioned elements, more people will tune in on those merits over, say, watching forty-year-olds playing air guitar to music that hasn't been relevant in decades, if ever.