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Dave Pelz with research on why average golfers need better short games

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How important is short game to a golfer’s score? According to Dave Pelz, it’s critical. A new video from the short game guru, which is part of Cleveland Golf’s #own125 campaign, reveals that PGA Tour players get up and down when they miss a green roughly 60 percent of the time.

The video also reveals statistics for scratch, 10-handicap and 20-handicap golfers, which (not surprisingly) are much, much lower.

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41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. jjoro

    Nov 26, 2015 at 10:28 am

    What a revelation from a self made, self centered genius. I bet he is the ONLY “guru” to figure that out. WOW, we need a better short game. Kinda like he messed up Phils Putting with his genius observations. He probably thinks the answer is to make more Putts,,, DUH.

    • DonW

      Feb 16, 2016 at 11:57 pm

      Pelz may have an interest in selling his short game training classes and publications, but HE IS CORRECT, the short game is the most important area for score improvement. You can’t recover from a missed putt and putts are easier if your short game is more accurate.

  2. Mat

    Nov 12, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    Pelz also says… tour pros 1-putt half the time from 8ft or less.

    The conclusion I draw from this is simple…

    If you hit a GIR, your odds of two-putting from anywhere are in the high 60s or better.

    The odds of you hitting a green within 8 feet of the pin from anywhere not on the green is likely lower than 25%, and it goes down fast.

    Therefore, if you want to par a hole, you want GIR. Most GIR shots are attack shots from 75-175 yards. Practicing those areas, and focusing on your equipment in that area, making sure you don’t have huge gaps is really key.

    Pelz is absolutely right when he suggests knowing your partial swing numbers. If you have a 46 yard shot, you should be able to get within a couple yards of it, thus giving you a scramble opportunity. However, he isn’t taking into account the real statistics of accuracy. Longer drives make easier second shots. Second shots will determine your likelihood of par-vs-bogie more than any other factor.

    As a 10, if you GIR, you are 70% to par, and 98% to bogey. If you miss GIR, you are 15% chance to par, 60% chance to bogey.

    As a 0, if you get your scrambling up to 30%, you’ve shaved 0.15/sph. If you get to iron play of that caliber, you’ve gone from 30->60% GIR, you reduce 0.45/sph. I’ll spend my time where it’s 3x more effective, thanks.

  3. Hudson

    Nov 12, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    This article looks totally wrong in my case :
    On my last three rounds (I am a 10/12 HCP), I lost a total of 33 strokes (on 47 holes)
    based on the STROKES GAINED (LOST) approach.

    Here is the breakdown:

    Tee Par 4/5: -13.2 (39.6%)
    Recovery: -0.1 (0.2%)
    Second shot on par 5: -2.2 (6.5%)
    Lay up P3: -1.2 (3.5%)
    Lay up P4: -1.3 (3.8%)
    Lay up P5: 0.0 (0.1%)
    Attack 0-50 m: -2.7 (8.1%)
    Attack 51-100 m: -2.2 (6.7%)
    Attack 101-150 m: -4.3 (12.8%)
    Attack 151-200 m: -4.4 (13.3%)
    Putting: -1.8 (5.3%)

    So it means that I am LOSING the most strokes on three parts of the game:
    1) Driving (39.6% of the total lost strokes)
    2) Attack 151-200 meters: -4.4 (13.3% of the total lost strokes)
    3) Attack 151-200 m: -4.4 (13.3% of the total lost strokes)

    Short game would only be fourth for me and putting is my best part as I only lost -1.8 strokes on 47 holes…

    This confirms what I have seen and calculated for 2 years now based on the strokes gained method…
    See here below if interested:
    http://golf-made-in-us.blogspot.com/

  4. ders

    Nov 12, 2015 at 3:01 am

    I reject the “practice your short game” conventional wisdom (as a player who sucks I get all kinds of unsolicited advice on my game). I’m happy when I shoot low 90’s but my average putts per round is just under 34. I take an average of 8 penalty strokes a game. What part of my game should I work on? Its clearly not the short game. If I get my drives under control, I drop my scores by at least 8 strokes. I COULD NEVER PRACTICE ENOUGH TO TAKE 8 STROKES OFF MY PUTTING (my putts per round would be lower than Jordan Speith if I did that). And putting is boring, its not the reason anyone plays golf. Nothing amps you up more than a great drive and nothing bums you out more than slicing your tee shot into the lake. If I hit fairways, I’m having fun regardless if I’m 3 putting every hole.

  5. Reeves

    Nov 9, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Ok, Dave Plez has some wonderful ideas and he has a great short game school….but you are looking at elite amateur training…How many weekend duffers or retired people who play once or twice a week are really going to pay what his short game schools (or days) cost and even if they did or could how many would put in the practice time, very few. What the ever day player needs is very short and usable fixes that can keep the ball in play..that is where the need is not short game schools and fixes that take hours of practice. Here is an example of what the average Joe and Jill need out on the course…Putt every short shot you can, leave the wedge in the bag all you can around the green….just saved everyone a few shots and got you off the green so the 5 some behind you has the extra time they are going to need to read their putts from every angle….the ones with all the Plez school training…

  6. golfraven

    Nov 5, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Last time I played a round with my brother I was all other with the tee shot, imprecise with the green approach but then made great saves and one putter first three holes (par, birdie, par) and then I received an emergency call and had to go home. I could have easily played 3 over but went away with a smile. That is why you need good short game if you are a weekend player.

  7. ca1879

    Nov 5, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Best short game in the world won’t help if you’re getting up and down for bogey or worse. You have to get it there first.

    • Cliff

      Nov 6, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      The best short game will help if you can’t get the ball to the green. Why is that so hard to understand for people. I can hit 2 crappy shots and be by the green, chip it close and make par. I can also hit 2 good shots and miss the green, chip to 20′, and make bogey. Those 2 good shots don’t put the ball in the hole!

      • Double Mocha Man

        Nov 10, 2015 at 10:39 pm

        But those two good shots might put you close enough for a birdie putt.

  8. Large chris

    Nov 5, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I certainly believe the more sophisticated recent statistical analysis work, that shows driving and GIR to be far more important than it used to thought….

    BUT the much more useful approach for the average golfer is to focus on becoming ADEQUATE in every area. I play with average golfers every weekend, and most have one or two glaring weaknesses, eg off the planet wild driving, total inability to get out of a bunker (think Boomer in the pebble beach pro am), unable to put a roll on a 3 foot putt, 20% of irons topped or shanked….

    Focus on becoming ADEQUATE in every area first, before worrying about which bits to spend most time practicing on.

    • Cliff

      Nov 5, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      I’ve made plenty of pars rolling the ball off the tee. I’ve never made a par 3 putting, unless it was a par 5.

      • Large chris

        Nov 5, 2015 at 6:54 pm

        Then just imagine how many birdies you could make by not topping it…

  9. ptat

    Nov 4, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    It helps Dave sell more wedges for Cleveland is why

  10. Craig

    Nov 4, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I play off 16 averaging 44 putts and i’ve been focussing on my putting (without much success obviously!!!), but playing with a 2 h’capper recently really highlighted to me that it may be my chipping which is as much to blame. In particular from under 10-15 yards off a green he was typically up and down in 2, where i was 3 or 4. So this makes sense to me…

    • Mat

      Nov 12, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      I’ve been there, man. Only one thing helped me… and I went from averaging 40 to about 34 putts now. Unless you are inside 8 ft, assume that you will miss your first putt. Odds are that almost always you will. That’s ok, that’s normal. Just putt in such a way that you will make your second putt. Forget about the hole and draining the long ones… it’s all a bit of luck at our level anyhow. However, if you put yourself in a position to make the second one, your total strokes will fall faster than any other way statistically. GL

  11. AJ

    Nov 3, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Why would anyone advocate the importance of 1 aspect over another, it is all important to your score right?? poor shot game, long game, putting etc. are all detrimental to you score, enjoyment, and a waste of everyone’s time. what is worse.. watching a 20 hdcp zigzag down the fairway or chunk and skull it around the green after? there is no secret to better golf, it is all about practicing every aspect. poor golf is only due to a lack of preparation.

    • Cliff

      Nov 4, 2015 at 10:29 am

      I’ve never shot a good round with bad putting.

      • other paul

        Nov 4, 2015 at 9:10 pm

        I shot 90 when I hit 16 greens in reg one round. Drove great, approached well, wedges fine, putted like crap. 3 putted the whole way.

      • TheCityGame

        Nov 5, 2015 at 9:14 am

        I have. A LOT. I shot 78 with 39 putts one day.

        But, I’ve never shot a good round with poor ball striking.

        Basically what Pelz is saying here goes against all modern knowledge of scoring. It’s borderline non-sense. He mentions shot link data in the opening line, but apparently has no understanding of it.

        Read Broadie.

        • Cliff

          Nov 5, 2015 at 10:53 am

          If you consider 78 a good round….

          • Joe

            Nov 5, 2015 at 11:39 am

            78 is a good round for the average golfer. Those that agree with Pelz are above average golfers.

            If the true average golfer could save just two strokes off the tee (one less ball OB / Lost) just once per round, they would do better than improving their scrambling percentage from 5% to 15% (which is 1.8 strokes if you assume you miss every green).

  12. Kerryn Jamieson

    Nov 3, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    What I think is being missed here is that the title of the article reads “average” golfers. While driver distance may be an indicator for handicap you have failed to realise that most of these “average” golfers are physically incapable of producing the techniques required to hit that long drive. However they are more likely to be able to produce the physical techniques required to have just as good a short game as a pro. Changing the full swing motor pattern in a 50 year old to get them to swing at 100mph is near on impossible but getting them to hole 90% of 3 and 4 footers and chipping the ball to that 3 and 4 foot range is a much more achievable task and therefore I do believe that improving their to improve their scoring results improving the short game is a goal that is realistically achievable.

    • AJ

      Nov 4, 2015 at 8:52 am

      That is why we have forward tees, use em! They’re Not just for ladies and kids……

    • other paul

      Nov 6, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      I’m 33 and changed my motor pattern for my golf swing in about 6 months. Went from straight and 97MPH swing up to 117 MPH swing and less straight, but I am sorting it out now (fat grips helped). Read Kelvin Miyahiras articles and use a camera. Focus on body positions and then worry about the club after.

      • Another Paul

        Nov 11, 2015 at 12:01 pm

        Can I ask, 97 to 117, are these verified on a trackman type of device? And were they maximums or averages, and are these numbers for a driver swing? Also did you just use the info on Kelvin’s website or did you actually see him for a lesson/s? finally can I ask what was your handicap reduction in that 6 months? His site looks interesting 🙂 Many thanks 🙂

  13. snowman

    Nov 3, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Pelz still clings to his 1980’s mantras. He’s not all wrong; no doubt Short game is Important, but there has been lots of study done on this and the major difference in Scratch/Pro and Higher Handicap is quality of Ball striking. There are exceptions — e.g. guys that are mediocre ball strikers and short game or putting magicians, but on average the lower handicap, the better the ball striker. As an illustration to prove the point, someone asked ‘do you have a better chance to beat a pro in a chipping contest or a ball striking contest?’. Unless you have the yips, you are almost certainly closer to a pro short-game than pro ball striker. If you want to really lower your handicap, become a long, reasonably accurate sdriver, and a GIR machine. Once you get to a 5 or better, then you can really prioritize that short game. Side note: I read somewhere that Driving Distance the key determinate in your handicap potential. Oops, Please disregard the above comment. I forgot everyone on WRX is 2 hdcp or better and already carries their driver over 290.

    • alexdub

      Nov 4, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      Totally agree with this statement. Ball striking has a tee-to-green effect; that is, improving ball striking has the potential to improve every part of your game. Conversely, practicing 100 yd. wedge shots does not translate into a better driving game (or long iron game, for that matter).

    • Mike

      Nov 14, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      I’M A SENIOR 67 years old and I play 6-8 times a month. Been a 3-5 handicap or better since I was 9 years old. In my life I have had 5 lessons and been to Pelz’s short game school twice. I really wish people would learn 1) put the driver in the bag and use whatever you can hit the fairway with. 2) Work on your putting 3) don’t try to knock the cover off the ball. try to make solid contact. Listen to Pelz. 100 yards in is where the scoring happens. Just My $.02!

  14. Steven

    Nov 3, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    This is not what a strokes gained analysis would show.

  15. cdvilla

    Nov 3, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    I’m living by this well-reasoned argument posted on this very site! Drive it well enough then hit it on the green more often. I’ve built my practice around this approach and it’s working for me.

    http://www.golfwrx.com/285949/the-truth-behind-greens-in-regulation-and-scoring/

    • RHJazz

      Nov 3, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      The logic in the linked article is very sound. Of course we could score better if our short game was better in general, but I agree with cdvilla and the other article – it’s far more reasonable to think you can significantly improve your score by hitting more greens in regulation.

      • Ian

        Nov 4, 2015 at 8:08 am

        +1. My #1 goal is GIR and that generally starts with a good drive.

    • kevin

      Nov 6, 2015 at 6:22 am

      I’d like to add to this… In my last round, I hit 3 GIR! Three. T-H-R-E-E!! For an 8 handicapper hitting 3 GIR???

      Well, I shot 12 over – was scrambling on 15 holes and managed to up-and-down (or chip in) 5 times for a dismal one-third in scrambling! There’s a graph indicating the capability of scrambling based on your handicap – I should be off a handicap of 5 or lower based on my scrambling. The odds are just not in your favour if you are missing greens in regulation.

      All this time, I thought my short game was rubbish – meantime, I can rest easy knowing that the hour a day short game practice I do in my backyard is paying off.

      SO, I NEED TO HIT MORE GIRs!!!!!

      My chipping and putting is decent – only 1 three putt, 4 one putts and 2 chip ins (one for bird and one for bogey). I can’t remember when I last had more than 2 putts per hole.

      I lost 4 shots off the tee with my driver (2 drives under trees forcing me to punch out, one into a fairway bunker with no chance for a GIR and lost two shots on a miss hit tee shot). That totals 5 lost shots…
      Further in my analysis, I found I lost two shots on a 7 iron approach shot – tried attacking a sucker pin! Another lost shot (again with 7 iron) in green side bunker short siding myself for a difficult up-and-down. Lost a shot on tee shot of a par 3 landing in green side bunker – it was a very difficult bunker shot of 20 yards up hill (I got the ball to within 15 feet but missed the putt, should have done better with the tee shot).

      Only lost one shot to chipping…

      I’m probably not considered an average golfer but really, if you keep focusing on the short game, the rest of your game will fail you and you’ll be left trying to save bogey with your amazing short game…

  16. David

    Nov 3, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    “Average” players could score better if they improved their short game = fact

    • TheCityGame

      Nov 5, 2015 at 9:18 am

      “All” players could score better if they improved their short game = fact

      “All” players could score better if they improved their long game = fact

      “All” players could score better if they improved their putting = fact

  17. Alec Emerson

    Nov 3, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    This is woefully innacurate. The importance of the 4 parts of the game is 1. iron play, 2. driving, 3. putting, and 4. shortgame. Firstly, while it is true that after a poor drive, you have more time to recover than after a poor short game shot, players misses with longer clubs tend to be further from target, thus increasing probable score on the hole. A bad drive could result in a 2 stroke penalty (stroke and distance), while even the very worst short game shot is only an effective 1 shot penalty (chunk your chip and move it 5 feet). Again staying with the worst shot example, the very worst short game shot vs the best is almost never more than 2 shots (up and down vs down in 4), while the best drive (down the middle in 1) vs the very worst drive (ob, then skank into the rough) yields a greater difference in average scoring than 2 (usually about 2.5)

  18. Jon

    Nov 3, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Just like putting stats between pros and amateurs, don’t you think better golfers are typically in a better position to get up-and-down than less skilled golfers, which in turn makes these conclusions less valid? Nice video editing though.

    • Mike

      Nov 3, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      have you ever watched pros on the putting green before a tournament? they have a putting coach and hit a million putts. they are not only more skilled but practice like crazy.

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How Far Away from the Ball Should You Be at Address?

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How far away from the ball should you be at address? This video is in response to a question from Tom McCord on Facebook.

In this video, I look at the setup position. I offer a simple way to check your distance from the ball at address with your driver, irons and wedges.

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Tour Pros Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up

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You want to be better at golf, more consistent and longer off the tee. I am sure a lot of you would love to stop hurting. You would like these things with minimal work, if possible. You also want them yesterday. That about sum it up?

In the next 5 minutes, you’ll learn about the one thing that solves these problems for good. Before we dive in, though, I want to tee up three stats for you from my research.

  1. PGA Tour players can jump between 18-22 inches off the ground while LPGA Tour players can jump between 16-20 inches off the ground. Long drive competitors can often leap 30+ inches off the ground!
  2. Elite-level golfers who drive the ball 300+ yards can shot put a 6-pound ball more than 30 feet with less than a 5-percent difference in right-handed to left-handed throws.
  3. Elite golfers in the world can hurl a medicine ball with a seated chest pass just as far in feet as they can jump in inches (ie. a 20-inch vertical leap and a 20-foot seated chest pass).

What do these numbers have to do with you and your game? More importantly, what do these stats have to do with solving your problems? Let’s start by telling you what the solution is.   

Objective Assessment and Intelligent Exercise Prescription

Say that three times fast. It’s a mouth full… But seriously, read it two more times and think about what that means.

It means that before you act on anything to improve your health or your game, you need to objectively assess what the problem is and get to the root cause. You should use quality objective data to arrive at intelligent health and golf improvement decisions based on the long-term likelihood that they will be successful. We can’t just select exercises, swing changes or training aids based on what is hot in the market today or what the latest celebrity was paid big bucks to sell to us.

There is a reason why the infomercials you see today on Golf Channel will be different in 2 months. The same gimmicks run out of steam when enough people realize that is what they are… gimmicks. When looking to achieve your goals of playing better golf and/or having less pain, don’t just grab for the quick fix as so many golfers today do. 

We are in the information age. Information from quality data is power. Using this data intelligently, you can fix problems in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. Hopefully, I am giving you the power to make a meaningful and lasting change in your game. I’m sorry to say that most amateurs will not be hitting 300+ yard drives despite what the latest marketing ploy will have you believe. But, if you know what tests you can do to measure the areas that affect your distance off the tee, you can at least gain insight into where your biggest return on your time investment will be. 

This is where working with a golf fitness expert can be so valuable to you. Not only can they help you interpret your results from the tests, but they will also be able to prescribe you the most effective means to move closer to 300 yards from where you are right now.  

If you have a problem with your car not accelerating as fast as you would like or not being able to reach top end speed on the highway, I hope you take it to the mechanic and don’t just look up quick fixes on YouTube to see what you can do on your own. The reason you pay the mechanic to fix your car is because that is what they do all day. They will get it done as quickly as possible. More importantly, they’ll get correctly so that the problem doesn’t pop up again in 2 weeks.

A golf fitness expert is no different. Use them for their expertise and knowledge. Once you have a diagnosis of what is holding you back and a plan to correct it, you are on your way and won’t have to waste any more time or money trying silly quick fixes that never stick.

The three statistics mentioned earlier represent numbers measured across the globe by industry leaders and at our facility 3-4 times per year on hundreds of golfers each time. Our facility has thousands of data points. With this much data comes the ability to draw conclusions from objective assessments. These conclusions drive the intelligent implementation of successful solutions directed at the root causes of problems for thousands of golfers around the globe.

The first three statistics have an R-value of over 0.85 in correlation to clubhead speed. Translation: if you perform well in the first three tests with high numbers, you are very likely to have a high club speed. Further, if you improve in any of those three tests relative to where you started, you are almost assured to have a higher club speed than when you began (assuming swing technique and equipment is relatively unchanged).  

Keep in mind that in statistics, correlation is not the same as cause and effect. But when the R-value is that close to 1 and anecdotally you have seen the results and changes we have, you put some weight behind these three tests. So:

  • See how high you can jump
  • See how far you can shot put a 6-pound medicine ball
  • See how far you can chest pass a 6-pound medicine ball from a seated position

Doing so will give you an idea of how much power you have in your lower body, total rotary system and upper body respectively. Train whichever one is the worst, or train them all if you want. Rest assured that if you improve one of them, you will more than likely increase your swing speed.  

By doing these assessments and addressing the one or two weak areas, you will improve with the least work possible. Sounds about what you were looking for, right? If you are able to identify where you need to improve BEFORE you buy whatever is claiming to fix your problems, you will save lots of money and time. You will actually start to improve with the least amount of work possible and in the least amount of time possible.  

What’s next? After completing the assessment tests, start working to improve them.

  • Coming Soon: Lower Body Power for Golf
  • Coming Soon: Upper Body Power for Golf
  • Coming Soon: Rotary Power for Golf
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The 2 Best Ways to Control the Club Face

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In this video, I explain how to control the club face correctly in the golf swing. I offer two great explanations of common issues with club face control.

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