Lessons can be learned from the 18th hole of The Match Challenge

Jun 29, 2021, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:03 pm
Drop the Mike...

Last week’s scintillating finish to The Fan Match Challenge came down to the 18th hole at Green Valley Ranch. Leave it to the inimitable DMac to somehow make the 607-yard homeward hole a metaphor for Broncos general manager George Paton’s decision not to draft Justin Fields.

Let me reset the moment. Me and my playing partner, Mark Schlereth, were tied with Brandon Stokley and Zach Bye going to the final hole. I hit my drive a solid 250 yards into the middle of the fairway. Stoke ripped his drive 270 yards into a bunker on the right side. Stink hit a seven iron about 180 yards down the fairway, leaving us about 160 yards in.

Stoke could’ve easily hit a 150- to 170-yard iron out of the bunker, down the fairway, leaving him and Zach a more than manageable shot into the green. Instead, Stokley attempted what one Green Valley Ranch expert said was “the toughest second shot in Colorado.”

Our man Stoke tried to hit a fairway wood out of bunker that had a lip in the way. He was going to have to hit a shot that would come out low, somehow clear the lip, travel 250 yards in the air, over marsh land, go straight to avoid the OB to the right and lots of marsh land on the left, land it on grass and still be some 50 yards short of the green. To say this shot was difficult is an understatement. I know, I was there.

Stoke went for it and hammered the ball into the lip. The ball ricocheted high up in the air and plopped deep into the marsh. The ball traveled all of 30 feet.

That effectively ended The Match. Afterward, Stokley defended his decision by saying he was “going for it, going for the win.”

Of course, that led DMac to say Stokley’s decision represented the approach Paton should’ve taken in drafting Fields while Stink and I laid up and played it safe – again, representing the approach Paton did take when he selected Patrick Surtain at No. 9 overall.

Naturally, I disagree with my man DMac. First of all, Mark and I did not play it safe. We played it smart. And in the process of playing it smart, we still had to execute three difficult shots.

A 250-yard drive down the middle, followed by a 170-yard iron down the middle, followed by a 160-yard approach shot that lands on the green is not easy, as any weekend golfer can attest. The same can be said when it comes to drafting a quarterback.

Finding the right guy is difficult but it can be done and it doesn’t automatically mean drafting a QB high in the first round. In fact, the last 20 years of drafting QBs in the first round shows how risky it can be.

The average QB taken during that time had an average win/loss record of 38-37 with an average of one playoff win. We just came off a span between 2009-16 where 23 QBs went in the first round and none are currently with the team that drafted them.

Taking a QB high up in the first round just because you’re supposed to isn’t smart. Choosing to pass on one after you’ve done months of evaluation and you were hired to be a GM because you’re supposed to be an above average evaluator like Paton is the golfing equivalent of trying to execute three challenging shots down the left side of the fairway instead of a Hail Mary bomb down the right.

To the idea that Stoke deserves credit for “going for it, going for the win,” I honestly hate that. Just because you were trying to win doesn’t always justify taking a gamble that has very little chance of working out. It’s like any boneheaded decision can be automatically excused because, well, they went for it. That’s ridiculous.

Stoke could attempt that shot 10 times. I would bet he executes that shot perfectly maybe twice. You’re telling me a 20 percent success rate justifies his decision? NFL teams can keep over-drafting these “can’t-miss” QBs but when they come with about a 70/30 bust/success rate, does it make good sense?

Ask yourself this: Do the best doctors become the best doctors when they keep taking chances in the operating room that have a 20 percent chance of success? Do the best businessmen become the best businessmen when they keep taking chances on development deals that have a 20 percent chance of success?

DMac is a radio host who gets to fire opinions off his hip. If they work, great. If they don’t, onto the next harebrained QB theory. Every day a different one. Helps keep people from really examining the overall track record, which isn’t very good.

Our golf finish evoked comparisons to the movie “Tin Cup.” You remember the scene. Roy McAvoy feels he can make a long shot over the water. He “goes for it” while his rival, David Simms, lays up. Roy puts shot after shot in the water, stubbornly believing he can make that shot. And he does! On his 11th try!

Sure, he went for it. He played for the win. And he lost. All because he did something stupid. Meanwhile, Simms played it smart and won.

The moral of the story? Going for it just for going for it sakes doesn’t mean anything. Playing to win and being smart about it is what matters. Something to remember in this never-ending QB debate.

Drop the Mike

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Lessons can be learned from the 18th hole of The Match Challenge