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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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Lesson of the Day: Understand cause and effect to make permanent swing changes

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In our “Lesson of the Day” video series with V1 Sports, we match a different GolfWRX member with a different V1 Sports instructor. It’s extremely important to both V1 Sports and GolfWRX to help golfers improve their games and shoot lower scores, and there’s no better way to do that than getting lessons. While we not only want to provide free lessons to select GolfWRX members, we want to encourage and inspire golfers to seek professional instruction. For instructions on how to submit your own video for a chance at getting a free lesson from a V1 Sports instructor as part of our Lesson of the Day series, CLICK HERE.

This week, V1 Pro Dan Marvosh looks at WRX Member Matt Chappellie’s swing.

About the pro

Dan Marvosh is a PGA Professional as well as TPI Certified instructor based at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, CA. In addition to providing a TPI physical screen to understand your body’s movement patterns he also uses the advancement of technology to accurately measure all of the key components that go into making you a better player. These tools include V1 Pro software for analyzing your golf swing, Flightscope launch monitors as well as a brand new wrist sensor called Hackmotion. In addition to in person coaching and programming, Dan offers his students the ability to learn from anywhere in the world via his golf academy.

Lesson context

My first impression of Matt was that he has an athletic setup and likely plays regularly, but like many of you, definitely will benefit from understanding the core cause and effect of why his inconsistencies in ball striking occur. Matt has a very weak grip, evidenced by the “v” of the trail hand pointing in front of his sternum. Players with weak grips generally get the club face fairly open in the back swing and thus have to react accordingly on the down swing to match up the open club face. While most high-handicap players usually react to an open face by swinging left or “over-the-top” to square that open face, Matt has a better players match up where he combines his weak grip with pressure towards his toes at address which cause him to stand up (to maintain balance) in the back swing.

As Matt makes his transition, you’ll notice he continues to early extend (note the loss of tush line) which for him does get his swing direction to the right, however in doing so he will have a significant loss of forward shaft lean and most importantly, face control. In short, standing up in the downswing reduces your ability to create ground force which encourages torso and hip rotation. If you watch Matt’s video, you will be able to understand the connection more clearly. Notice that when the shaft is parallel to the ground in the downswing (Golf Machine aficionados call this p6) the club face is still fairly open (hence why just working on rotation will not work), however just past impact the face has rolled significantly closed, further showing the effect on not utilizing the ground properly to stabilize the face.

In conclusion, like many swings it is often easy to notice the symptoms of Matt’s flawed pattern, however understanding the core cause and thus effect allows permanent change to be more possible and for a lot of my players that starts with the club face. Here are the key steps for Matt to take in order to allow permanent change to show up on the course — where it matters most!

Steps to improvement

  1. Create a stronger grip at setup- the checkpoint for Matt is to have the “v” of the trail hand to line up more with his trail forearm. Most of you will also benefit from being able to see two knuckles of the top hand from address given its effect on controlling the tendency of an open club face.
  2. Feel like pressure at address in the feet is more in the mid foot as opposed to towards the toes.
  3. Work an early extension drill (in the video) to create body awareness and new rotational feels with more ideal pressure shifts (Whenever doing a drill, start off slow and work your way up to speed and take advantage of your smart phone to measure your progress – feel and real are often two extremely different things. Finally, dedicate a portion of your practice to practice swings at 90% speed that incorporate portions of the change you are making and try to match those swings on a ball, this is ultimately the swing you want to take to the course because it has athleticism and incorporates your new pattern)
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How-to Series: How to move your hips on the backswing

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Lucas Wald How To Series: How to move your hips on the backswing

This is the first installment in our How To Series — follow this plan to master the movements of the hips on the backswing!


Watch the series introduction here

This new series is all about helping you improve your golf swing quickly. We’re going to break the swing down into its component parts and give you specific practice direction — master these key elements of the swing and you’ll see improvement fast!

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How “long arms” at the top of the backswing can help you hit the ball farther

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One of the hardest things to do as we get older is to make a big shoulder turn with extended arms at the top. It’s the swing of a younger golfer! However, every one of us can add width at the top so we can hit it farther, but few know how to actually do so. In this article, I will use MySwing 3D Motion Analysis to help you understand how beneficial long arms are at the top.

As you examine the swing of this particular player, you will notice that the lead arm is “soft” and the hands are close to this player’s head at the top. This is the classic narrow armswing to the top that most older players employ. And as we all know this position leaves yardage in the bag!

Now let’s look at the data so we can see what is actually happening…

At the top you can see that the shoulders have turned 100 degrees which is more than enough, but the arms look jammed and narrow at the top. Why?

The answer lies within the actions of the rear arm, the lead arm is only REACTING to the over-bending of the rear elbow. As you can see at the top the rear elbow is bent 60 degrees. In a perfect world, when the rear elbow is at 90 degrees (a right angle) or more, the lead arm will be mostly straight — depending on how you’re built.

Something to note…in this position the hands are just past the chest and the shoulders have turned almost 90 degrees. However, when this player finished his backswing, he added 30 more degrees of rear elbow bend and only 11 more degrees of shoulder turn! What this means is that for the last quarter of the backswing, all this player did is allow the hands to basically collapse to the top of the backswing. This move is less than efficient and will cause major issues in your downswing sequencing, as well as, your transitional action.

As stated when your trail elbow stays at 90 degrees or wider in route to the top, you will have a much straighter lead arm.

One last thing to note when comparing these two players is that this player two had a shorter backswing length but a BIGGER shoulder turn with WIDER arms at the top, giving this player a short compact motion that resembles Adam Scott — which seems to work for he and Butch!

Therefore, the thing to remember is that if your lead arm is soft at the top and your arms look crowded at the top, then you must fix the over-bending of the rear elbow on the backswing. And if you have wider arms you will have a more solid “package” to become a ballstriking machine!

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