I have always been an over aggressive player, bordering on dumb on more than a few occasions.
During the second round of the Long Beach Open, I didn’t try to drive the green on a hole (325 down wind with water short) when I could have easily done it and there was no reason to “protect” my score.
I don’t subscribe exactly to the risk/reward factor to the letter. There are always many factors involved. Is there any chance of success? Does the success give you an advantage and how much of one?
In the case of this par 4, there was a 100% chance the ball was going over the green because of the wind, and over the green was worse than 80 yards short.
On some holes, there is no reason to drive the ball 30 yards short of a 380 yard par 4, if the shot from 100 yards is easier because of the pin position.
There are also momentum and opponent factors. Maybe you are struggling in a round and pulling off a 1 in 5 shot may jump start you to save the round when you really can’t ruin it much worse.
The point is, risk/reward is not the only factor. You need to take in the entire situation and see what a success can do for you that might over ride the straight risk/reward percentages.
…and a huge factor that is almost never taken into account and through my struggles, became a huge part of the decision. If you are having a rough day, you are just as liable to screw up the safe shot and that will make you want to break all your clubs, quit golf and curl up the the fetal position in a bunker on 18. When you try the hero shot, you either pull it off, or at least your tried. When you screw up the safe shot, you are a chop and a coward.
I once hit a pitch a more difficult way on purpose in order to unnerve an opponent. I will tell that story tomorrow, along with good answers to any comments to this post.