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Observations From a Golf Course Employee


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#1 RSinSG

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 10:54 PM

Well, kind of an employee anyways. My buddy and I are both retired from and work four hours on Monday mornings at The Ledges. Nice public course that attracts all kinds of players.

Our job is edging the bunkers so we see a lot of approach shots. After doing this for 4 years here is my non-scientific observation: 95+ percent of golfers under club their approach shots. Maybe closer to 99%. It seems the only shots that go long are mis-hits.

It seems like such a simple fix yet literally 9 out of 10 golfers I watch consistently come up short – every time.  If I could give one bit of advice to someone struggling with GIR’s it would be for them to take one extra club. Ask yourself – how many times do you miss long?  Try it and see if it makes a difference.

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#2 2bGood

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 11:20 PM

This is great advice, but also is one of my personal pet peeves as you hear this all the time and in general it might be great advice for most golfers but....

My advice is if you are any good and trying to shoot the best score you can, always asses where the trouble is and decide where you can't miss. This means often that long would be death, so play for your perfect shot to be pin high and a miss hit will leave you safe and short. Other times it means you play for a miss to be pin high as the trouble is short.

The other factor is many golfers really don't have much of chance of shooting a truly good score, and are just out there to hit memorable shots. My advice for this is group is to still play for your best shot as there is nothing worse than hitting your only flush shot of the day and seeing it fly over the green.

Edited by 2bGood, 09 May 2017 - 09:27 AM.


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#3 MasonHAsher

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 11:27 PM

I usually miss short because most trouble is long. I control this aspect and take club that if I mishit it it's short and if I power up on it it goes to the back of the green. So on 150 + I usually play 5 yards short and sometimes I am short which is an easy up and down compared to being long.
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#4 Mcgeeno

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 11:42 PM

This is awesome I was gonna make a post after playing a Sunday round with 3 new players.

They all hit it short every approach. People will judge yardage based on the one time they crushed their 8 iron perfectly.

I noticed good players end up pin high and miss right or left because their contact is good. It just stuck out to me because I usually play with decent players and don't notice it.

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#5 jwash112

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 01:01 AM

View PostRSinSG, on 08 May 2017 - 10:54 PM, said:

Our job is edging the bunkers so we see a lot of approach shots. After doing this for 4 years here is my non-scientific observation: 95+ percent of golfers under club their approach shots. Maybe closer to 99%. It seems the only shots that go long are mis-hits.

It seems like such a simple fix yet literally 9 out of 10 golfers I watch consistently come up short – every time.  If I could give one bit of advice to someone struggling with GIR’s it would be for them to take one extra club. Ask yourself – how many times do you miss long?  Try it and see if it makes a difference.

Seems like the shots that would come up short are the mishits as a small percentage of golfers hit the center of the face.


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#6 Carl Spackler2

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 01:26 AM

View Postoikos1, on 09 May 2017 - 12:29 AM, said:

View PostCarl Spackler2, on 09 May 2017 - 12:05 AM, said:

Observation: Stop forgetting your s*** and expect for somebody else to look for you.
Observation: If you are not on the tee, hitting the ball at your designated tee time. YOU'RE LATE.

Man...there is so many. But these two rub me the wrong way the most. Being late and not being responsible for your s***.

Dang, I suspect you're not a golf course employee.

lol please.
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#7 Ferguson

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 05:17 AM

Ask anyone that is any good and they will tell you their misses are mostly left or right.   Most am's are short because they just plain under-club most approach shots.  They take less club, swing harder and the timing goes to hell, guess what - the ball comes up short.  It's from listening to the wrong people.  The basic and foremost fundamentals to consistency and good scoring: grip, posture, turn, shift and hitting the right club for the shot.

Hit the shot you know you can hit, and take enough club.

Edited by Ferguson, 09 May 2017 - 05:17 AM.


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#8 acemandrake

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 06:01 AM

Know your yardages...

Play to the center of the green...

Use one club longer & swing smoothly (if you can :D )

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#9 bazinky

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 09:34 AM

I'm a single digit, and I still struggle with this constantly. I have an irrational fear of going long, and honestly feel like I could drop my handicap by a couple of strokes if I could get over this.

It's not a simple as using more club, however. When I do club up, I sometimes ease off sub-consciously, and end up coming up even shorter!
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#10 larrybud

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 09:59 AM

I would agree in general with the OP.   Play on a casual beer golf league and you'll soon recognize that the vast majority of players have no concept of course management, so thinking about where trouble is is generally the last thing in their mind, unless they see a big lake on the right.  I can't tell you how many time I see a guy in the trees trying to just hit right THROUGH the tree.  I'm thinking "Where is he expecting this shot to go??"

Sure, on some courses long is dead, but these guys are coming up 10 yard short every time.  Taking an extra club and puring it isn't going to send them over the green.  Most greens are 25-30 yards deep.

When I started paying attention to back of the green yardages, that had me hitting a couple more girs per round, because knowing that number, combined with knowing my distances using GameGolf, allowed me to confidently take a swing with the occasional extra club, knowing that I might hit it over in 1 in 50 shots.


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#11 augustgolf

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 10:03 AM

I was teaching a guy years ago that had a really good natural swing. Told him to play a round trying to hit the back fringe of every green.

He was a pretty legitimate 18. The day he tried to hit the back fringe every green he shot 79, and 3 putted a couple times.

Said he got nervous, putting for birdie most every hole.

Go figure. But, he went back to trying to hit the "proper" club, and went back to shooting 90's again.
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#12 North Butte

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 10:06 AM

95% of iron shots by a weekend hacker are mishit. Most mishit shots come up short.

Never attribute to stupidity what can be explained by a bad swing.
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#13 dbleag

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 10:11 AM

Ben Hogan once told me, "never be long on a shot with a back pin, never be short of a front pin never be right of a right pin and never be left of a left pin."

Watch tournament golf on TV and you'll see no one following his advice.

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#14 umassgolfer

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 10:22 AM

For me...any given shot could be pure, a mis-hit costing me 5 yards, or 20 yards. I play a lot of courses that I am not super familiar with. I can see the trouble in front of the green, but a lot of the time long is (or looks) dead. My GPS watch tells me front/middle/back distance. I try to play about to those numbers.

What I (and a lot of my fellow playing partners) struggle with is factoring wind into the distance. So often I think wind will affect the ball by a club length, for example. Then I mis-hit the ball a little and the wind effect is amplified. Thus, I come up short.

Playing to the back fringe every shot over 120 yards or so is an interesting idea. Maybe I'll try that this weekend if I get out.

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#15 acemandrake

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 12:31 PM

View Postbazinky, on 09 May 2017 - 09:34 AM, said:

I'm a single digit, and I still struggle with this constantly. I have an irrational fear of going long, and honestly feel like I could drop my handicap by a couple of strokes if I could get over this.

It's not a simple as using more club, however. When I do club up, I sometimes ease off sub-consciously, and end up coming up even shorter!

It's not easy to trust a smooth swing when clubbing up but it pays to teach yourself this.  Like a lot of things it takes time, patience & discipline; but the payoff is worth it.  I'm working on this now.  I've been playing for 50 years so my swing is what is & I'm dedicating my practice time to tempo & rhythm.  If nothing else, this keeps it simple for me :)  

A guy I know with a +2 handicap has the smoothest (slow & steady) swing I've ever seen.  I asked him if he had to hit a lot of balls to get his swing & he said:  "Oh yeah".


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#16 MtlJeff

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 12:59 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 09 May 2017 - 10:06 AM, said:

95% of iron shots by a weekend hacker are mishit. Most mishit shots come up short.

Never attribute to stupidity what can be explained by a bad swing.

This is an excellent point
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#17 myspinonit

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 01:30 PM

Good thread.

A point I saw somewhere last season makes  alot of sense to me...always add 5 yards to a red pin distance. The avg guy would be pleased to be at the front of a middle flag green, but seem to always get obsessed to be at the exact yardage for a front pin and ...short.

I also agree with the points that if the big trouble is beyond the green (or if you are unfamiliar with the course and can't see what lies after the back fringe) than  erring on the short side certainly makes sense.  And for the average ability golfer even  intentionally laying up short enough that one is short of front trouble and not in one of the bunkers the OP is edging.

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#18 cardoustie

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 01:46 PM

you CANNOT miss long at my course, and many others.  Sometimes underclubbing (or mishitting) is acceptable ... pending course design and green surrrounds
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#19 North Butte

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 01:49 PM

There is one green at my home course where the green is fronted by a bunker and tilts away toward the back. Given that so many of the other greens have "death" if you go long, it's surprisingly hard to remind yourself that one time every round to go ahead and club up. There some fringe and then plenty of flat, shortish rough over the green. Chipping or even using putter from off the green back there is easy-peasy because you're chipping back uphill. And if you come up short in the front bunker it's hard to keep the bunker shot on the green.

I like holes that make you mentally shift gears once in a while.
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#20 eHawleywood

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 03:48 PM

In my experience the vast majority of greens are raked at least somewhat back-to-front, so the better miss for putting is normally short.  Obviously its not gospel but a miss short more often than not means an uphill putt/chip or an easy chip from the fairway instead of out of the rough to an elevated surface.

I get it, and for a mid-handicapper like myself I usually club up for longer approaches, but I think the more important thing is for these guys to get a GPS system or get some monitor time and really figure out their true average distances with their club instead of thinking of every shot as "oh well if I hit this perfectly it'll go XX yards"

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#21 bradski

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 04:05 PM

How is the Ledges looking right now?  Did they reseed the 16th fairway?

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#22 BrianMcG

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 04:08 PM

Every year during the Member-Guest tournament we would have a contest on one of the par 3s. The player could double their wager if they hit the green.

Like you saw 95% were short. I would even tell every player what club they should hit. Most people needed a 5 iron but they would all play 7-8 irons. It was a good money maker fort the golf shop.

Edited by BrianMcG, 09 May 2017 - 04:09 PM.


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#23 bubbagumpshrimp

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 04:14 PM

Yup. I fall into that category.  On an given round..I can't count on just one hand the number of approach shots that end up short.  Why do I keep doing it?  Why not...lol.

In all seriousness though, I used to have the habit of blasting the ball over the green.  For whatever reason, I've gone the opposite way with it.  As I tell a buddy though..."if you can't get the ball to the hole (or past it)...it's got not chance of going in."  Who knows...some day I might follow my own advice and club up, lol.

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#24 Qqq123xx

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 04:30 PM

No matter what iron I hit I was always long. So I started to swing with just one arm. Problem solved.
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#25 evgolfer

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 04:58 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 09 May 2017 - 10:06 AM, said:

95% of iron shots by a weekend hacker are mishit. Most mishit shots come up short.

Never attribute to stupidity what can be explained by a bad swing.

I was going to say this. I have a poor swing and my mishit (regular hit?) is a thin or topped shot. I do take extra club to make up for this and then I hit one good and it goes over the back of the green.

Honestly, there is no trick, tip or shortcut to make up for poor technique. You just have to get better at golf. That's been my epiphany anyways.


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#26 RSinSG

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 05:09 PM

View Postbradski, on 09 May 2017 - 04:05 PM, said:

How is the Ledges looking right now?  Did they reseed the 16th fairway?

Reseeded and the grass is coming in. I asked the super when he thought it would be open and (like always) he was non committal but thought at the end of summer.

They moved a lot of dirt in the remodel, and maybe it will be a driver hole with the new elevated tee box. It was certainly a challenge - especially if you've never played it before. And speaking of coming up short, that green is death if you go long.
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#27 Sean2

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 05:20 PM

View PostRSinSG, on 08 May 2017 - 10:54 PM, said:

Well, kind of an employee anyways. My buddy and I are both retired from and work four hours on Monday mornings at The Ledges. Nice public course that attracts all kinds of players.

Our job is edging the bunkers so we see a lot of approach shots. After doing this for 4 years here is my non-scientific observation: 95+ percent of golfers under club their approach shots. Maybe closer to 99%. It seems the only shots that go long are mis-hits.

It seems like such a simple fix yet literally 9 out of 10 golfers I watch consistently come up short – every time.  If I could give one bit of advice to someone struggling with GIR’s it would be for them to take one extra club. Ask yourself – how many times do you miss long?  Try it and see if it makes a difference.

I have been saying this for years. For example, one time the golfer nuked a 7-iron 170 yards...and now that is how far he thinks he hits it every time...and not the 150 yards he really averages.
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#28 North Butte

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 05:34 PM

And I always say that the number I've met of these testosterone-addled delusional golfers who think they hit the ball miles farther than they do is maybe a handful in 20+ years.
A sensible man will realize that the eyes may be confused in two ways---by a change from light to darkness or from darkness to light; and he will recognize the same thing happens to the soul.

--Plato

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#29 8thehardway

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 05:43 PM

I played an upscale course in FL where the 18th green was 90 yards long and that day the pin was in the middle. After the round I watched golfers come in for an hour and 80 - 90% were short; mishits aside, that would be a three or four club miscalculation. It was also surprising how many balls finished within five yards of the green. I've come to believe it's like leaving a 10-foot putt short... some hidden, cautious calculation must influence intent.
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#30 Qwiklap

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 09:12 PM

Great observation and great advice.

I tend to find that I will hit the green with the club I choose -- but often do come up short because my miss will be a slightly fat or off center hit.

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