Pick a route you can execute. Don't go for broke if the dramatic shot doesn't fit your game. If you can't hit a draw from a normal fairway lie, you'll probably have a hard time hooking it around a tree. Look for a better route out.
Locate your optimum target. Try to determine where your ball will end up if you hit the shot you want to hit. Will that shot get you out of trouble without a severe risk of winding up in more trouble?Will your target area leave you in good position for your next shot?
Rehearse the shot. And make that rehearsal real. Don't just go through the motions with a half-baked "practice" swing. Make a true, serious dress-rehearsal swing from a lie exactly like the one you're facing.
Practicing trouble shots can and should be fun—as much fun as you can have with your spikes on. Just imagine the confused, amused and ultimately amazed looks you'll get from other golfers as you leave the hitting stalls, venture to the hinterlands of the range and make sparks fly from a cart path, or whack a series of perfect one-handed backward shots from beside a boulder the size of a town in Colorado.
PRIVATE LESSONS: JOHN ELLIOTT JR.
Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, Lemont, IL; 630-257-5872; (May through September)
Country Club of Ocala, Ocala, FL; 352-237-6644; (October through April)
Individual lesson: $180 per hour
When the average golfer finds his ball on a cart path, he starts looking for a place to take a drop. But once you've picked up your ball, you can't replace it, and in many cases the areas where you might drop the ball will leave you a terrible lie—either in heavy grass or on hardpan near the path.