Should I Go For It?
How do you decide to "chance" the long shot over water if you really think you can make it, or to always take the safe way around it? The answer lies in how honest you are with yourself and your mechanical abilities.
If you are good enough to make it over the water 70% of the time and you gain a stroke, you are up by 7 strokes. However, the 30% of the times you hit the water and it costs you 2 strokes, you are down 6 strokes. The net result is a 1 stroke advantage by going for it.
The mental aspect of this strategy is very important. If you do have the mechanical ability to make it and you doubt yourself, you upset your brain's chemistry causing your performance to diminish and increase the chance that you will end up in the water. So if you decide to go for it, do it with complete confidence and be willing to live with the probabilities of your mechanical ability.
P.S.: Do you feel nervous on the first tee? Do you feel under pressure sometimes when putting to win? Are shots over water a problem for you? Then this problem can be a mental one. Here is a program that I can recommend to help you overcome it: The mental side of golf