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Observations From a Golf Course Employee


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#31 Splitter

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 09:56 PM

It's less ego and more fear.  Humans fear what they can't see/understand.

A short miss is easily seen and understood.  A long miss, not so much.

Fear is second to hunger when it comes to motivation.

Put a cheeseburger on the pin and I'm deadly.

Edited by Splitter, 09 May 2017 - 09:58 PM.


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#32 huskydawg

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 03:07 AM

I don't have much of an ego when it comes to iron distances, I've been playing for too long to care.  However, I have noticed that on the driving range, quite often you hit to a downhill green (for visibility purposes), and on the course you tend to put more stock into the yardage that you hit toward a downhill green because you can see the ball land, roll out, and see where it will end up.  But when you hit into a flat green or uphill green where you can't see it land, obviously the ball will fly shorter than hitting downhill, and furthermore you don't think as much of it when you can't see it land.  So I've learned to club up when you can't see the landing area and it's worked quite well for me.
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#33 andrue

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 06:16 AM

View Postlarrybud, on 09 May 2017 - 09:59 AM, said:

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.
That's why I dislike the 18th at my club. It's one of the few elevated greens (not that high but enough of a slope to catch out anyone hoping to run up onto it) and there's not much space behind it either. It's about five yards front to back and slopes front to back as well.

Edited by andrue, 10 May 2017 - 06:19 AM.

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#34 larrybud

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 06:22 AM

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.

Ah, but that goes into course management and playing the percentages.  If you hit only 1 in 20 well, then you better be clubbing yourself for the 95% of your swings, and not that 1 in 20 shot.

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#35 North Butte

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 06:26 AM

Playing shots that you hope you mishit and that will end up in trouble if you hit them solid? That is not good for ones mental health or scorecard. No thanks. That way lies madness.

A chicken is just an egg's way of making more eggs.

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#36 Bad9

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 07:49 AM

View Post2bGood, on 08 May 2017 - 11:20 PM, said:

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.



Totally agree. On virtually every hole on my home course there is trouble long and most holes left. Far, far better to err right and especially short. On solidly struck shots that are online I will end up on the green. On less than solidly struck shots I will be a little short and/or right. Trying to hit a bunker shot is way better than trying trying to hit out of trees or bushes.

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#37 cardoustie

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 08:42 AM

I will add one other story

Finished 2nd at a big mid-am qualifier once.  60 guys and 10 or 11 made it in.  I was 73 and 1 guy nipped me

Course is an old Stanley Thompson design with insane greens tilted back to front.  I played for the front fringe on every hole and was happy to try and to putt from 30 or 40 feet short .... just sayin'
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#38 North Butte

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 08:45 AM

View Postcardoustie, on 10 May 2017 - 08:42 AM, said:

I will add one other story

Finished 2nd at a big mid-am qualifier once.  60 guys and 10 or 11 made it in.  I was 73 and 1 guy nipped me

Course is an old Stanley Thompson design with insane greens tilted back to front.  I played for the front fringe on every hole and was happy to try and to putt from 30 or 40 feet short .... just sayin'

I learned the game and played for the first 10 years on a course like that. Well, probably not the *quality*, it was a crummy course with Common Bermuda grass on the greens but the same style of tilted greens.

The course I play now is more varied but it's built into my golf DNA to instinctively err on the side of those uphill chips and putts. I do enjoy having a few holes where (depending on the day's hole location) there are areas to miss that are to one side or even long. Any style of greens, including those old-school back-to-front tilted ones, gets boring if it's every green and you play the course often.

Edited by North Butte, 10 May 2017 - 08:47 AM.

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#39 nix

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 09:04 AM

I have read about this observation before and it's a true statement for sure. After reading this stat about amateur golfers I mentally walked through the holes at my club and there are very few where I would rather be long than short.

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#40 LeftDaddy

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 09:34 AM

Yep, to most of the points in this thread...this advice is reasonably sound, except that most greens slope back to front.  At my course for example, long is death on almost every hole.  I'm trying to think of a hole where long is OK and I can't come up with one.  I am unlikely to make double short of any greens at my home course.  I am very likely to make double if I fly any of the holes.  So I'll take the "most amateurs" advice in stride, and I'll plan on missing short anyway (if I miss).

The other "most amateurs" advice that drives me crazy is that every golf "tip" you ever read is basically geared toward slicers and toward people who aren't flexible in their hips / shoulders, etc.  It took me a while to realize that 95% of the tips I see in any golf magazine are just not helpful for me...I don't suffer from either of those afflictions (in fact, I suffer from the opposite of both).

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#41 andrue

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 10:00 AM

Yeah, it depends what is being meant by 'being long'. If we're talking a yard or two then at most holes at the courses I play you'll be okay..sorta. You might be looking at chipping up to an elevated green though or  hitting out of ankle high rough. If you're short you might only have to bump and run up to the hole from the apron.

But if 'long' means four or five yards then you're talking trees, knee high grass, gorse bushes, the Old Folk's garden, a field full of cows... Basically 'no longer on the playing surface'.

And at my level plus or minus a couple of yards is below the statistical noise. If I want to avoid going off the back by more than a yard or two I need to be aiming to stop in the middle of the green. And that means that, yes, I will sometimes be a few yards short of the green.

But it's still a useful observation. Something to keep at the back of my mind when an approach shot is between clubs. If my swing is good that day then clubbing up could be better than clubbing down.

Edited by andrue, 10 May 2017 - 10:02 AM.

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#42 BeerPerHole

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 10:25 AM

Great observation. I believe it. For me, personally...I'm starting to do what I would call "gratuitously overclubbing" or "overclubbing with gross prejudice" on my approach shots. And, it's working. I may be 150 our but if there's a twist (very slightly raised green, bunker in the front, etc) I'll grab a 5 and smash it - dancing in the center. Pretty interesting...

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#43 nix

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 11:09 AM

But in general I think the advice holds true and that I would be better off to club up when in doubt.

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#44 larrybud

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 02:07 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 10 May 2017 - 06:26 AM, said:

Playing shots that you hope you mishit and that will end up in trouble if you hit them solid? That is not good for ones mental health or scorecard. No thanks. That way lies madness.

If you want to score better, yes, absolutely.  How is it bad for your scorecard if you play the percentages?

Work on your swing on the range to improve those odds, but play with what you got on that day.

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#45 Tcann32

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 03:43 PM

I concur. This was an issue till I got into single digits for me and really got more consistent with ball striking and knowing my yardages better, etc. I also think that people grossly underestimate their yardages. I've heard so many people say they're 150 out just because they are laterally positioned from the 150 marker, and before you realize how far away you can actually be while still being lateral with a certain yardage, you'll always be coming up short.

It's still there chipping though, sometimes, when I'm not feeling 100% on my game. The fear of going way past and having a 10' down hill putt is worse than coming up 10' short, but the confidence is needed to get closer to the hole.

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#46 SeaOfGreen10

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 04:18 PM

View Postlarrybud, on 10 May 2017 - 06:22 AM, said:

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.

Ah, but that goes into course management and playing the percentages.  If you hit only 1 in 20 well, then you better be clubbing yourself for the 95% of your swings, and not that 1 in 20 shot.

The problem is figuring out how to club for a mishit. My average yardage for 8iron, factoring all mishits, can be 145 without ever actually hitting a shot that goes 145 yards....in which case I won't ever hit a green if I club to that.

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#47 augustgolf

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 04:23 PM

View Postcardoustie, on 10 May 2017 - 08:42 AM, said:

I will add one other story

Finished 2nd at a big mid-am qualifier once.  60 guys and 10 or 11 made it in.  I was 73 and 1 guy nipped me

Course is an old Stanley Thompson design with insane greens tilted back to front.  I played for the front fringe on every hole and was happy to try and to putt from 30 or 40 feet short .... just sayin'

I totally agree with you. And my earlier post, about teaching the 18 hdcp to try to hit it to the back fringe...???

His miss was ALWAYS short. The lesson was to learn where your misses are, recognize them, and make a game plan to correct.

Growing up, playing greens that were exceptionally fast for their time, I learned early on to keep the ball below the hole.

But, when you don't hit any greens because you are always short....the lesson was to try to hit it over.

Once this guy got his confidence that he COULD hit it over, he reverted back to his old ways....like we all tend to do in golf.

But, totally agree...fast greens, keep the ball below the hole.

And, another piece of advice i was taught: make sure that you can see the ball when it has stopped moving.  That tip alone has saved me many strokes.
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#48 augustgolf

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 04:25 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 10 May 2017 - 06:26 AM, said:

Playing shots that you hope you mishit and that will end up in trouble if you hit them solid? That is not good for ones mental health or scorecard. No thanks. That way lies madness.

Please re-read my post/advice: Hit it to the back fringe....not over the green.

That usually meant just upping one club....

How many time have you been in trouble in the back fringe???  Maybe you didn't like the long, downhill putt, but good grief....
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#49 naval2006

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 04:29 PM

There's this generalized comment that most greens tilt from back to front so it's better to be short.  The OP's advice, though, is really helpful.  I often play with 15/20 cappers and they usually get short on the 18 greens.  And at my home course there are many holes with safe recovery areas from the back.  Even on extreme front pin locations you see them underclub to find they have no room for a simple and safe chip.  I only see experienced single digit golfers miss past the pin.

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#50 North Butte

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 05:14 PM

Our greens are very firm Bermuda grass. GIven that I don't spin the ball very much, anything longer than a wedge or 9-iron landing in the back fringe will not end up in the back fringe. It will be over the green.

So today I had a shot with a 9-iron. Front of the green 113, hole was 121, back of the green 135. I hit my "120 yard club" with is 9-iron. It landed two yards past the flag but since I caught it a bit thin it hopped forward and ran into the back, upper tier of the green 30 feet past the hole. Tricky 2-putt for par.

That's with hitting my "120 club" from 121. At least three out of four times I hit that shot I will not catch it cleanly and I'll come up 10-15 yards short. The average over all the times I play that shot is somewhere around the very front edge of the green.

Your advice would be, "Well if it's 135 to the back fringe and you come up short of the hole with 9-iron three out of four times then you ought to be hitting at least 8-iron maybe choke down on a 7-iron to get to that back fringe".

That's silly advice. Coming up 10 yards short on average means on average I have a 20, 30, 40 foot putt maybe from the fringe but uphill. Hitting 8-iron means I'm landing pin and having a 10 or 15 foot downhill putt on average and today I would have one-hopped off the back of the green and into the pine straw eight feet below the level of the green.

The moral of the story. Your advice may well apply to some golfer, somewhere, on some golf course. But as general advice it's no good. As I said before, you're basically saying that anyone who routinely comes up short on iron shots and almost never goes long is stupid. As opposed to the reality which is a lot of those people have figured out over thousands of rounds of golf what is the best way to club themselves. They don't need some smart-a** watching and tut-tutting over those poor deluded fools who think just because one time our four their 9-iron goes 120 yards then they ought to hit 9-iron from 120 yards.

Edited by North Butte, 10 May 2017 - 05:34 PM.

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#51 gsea33

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 06:05 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 10 May 2017 - 08:45 AM, said:

View Postcardoustie, on 10 May 2017 - 08:42 AM, said:

I will add one other story

Finished 2nd at a big mid-am qualifier once.  60 guys and 10 or 11 made it in.  I was 73 and 1 guy nipped me

Course is an old Stanley Thompson design with insane greens tilted back to front.  I played for the front fringe on every hole and was happy to try and to putt from 30 or 40 feet short .... just sayin'

I learned the game and played for the first 10 years on a course like that. Well, probably not the *quality*, it was a crummy course with Common Bermuda grass on the greens but the same style of tilted greens.

The course I play now is more varied but it's built into my golf DNA to instinctively err on the side of those uphill chips and putts. I do enjoy having a few holes where (depending on the day's hole location) there are areas to miss that are to one side or even long. Any style of greens, including those old-school back-to-front tilted ones, gets boring if it's every green and you play the course often.

How do u get bored as a 17cap u must see all of the course and all kinds of shots.

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#52 Medic

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 09:44 PM

This thread goes hand-in-hand with the idea that many who play the game have no idea how far they honestly hit the ball. Guy hits driver on par 5 that is 480 in length. He is still 280 but waits until the green is clear. He swore he hits his driver 250 average. And his 3W, which wasn't really hit all that badly, ended up solidly 80 short of the green.

We weren't going anywhere on a busy track but I thought it was humorous when I went ahead and hit my layup shot and he said something about my action being rude.
  • Many players don't know their distances which leads to underclubbing. But it also leads to unrealistic expectations.
  • Many players don't understand the fundamental thought that it is best to take more and swing less.
  • Many players don't know true etiquette.
  • Sadly, these same players are very unlikely to get the ball up and down consistently which means that their scores are preventably higher.
  • More shots means, dare I say it, slower play.
So, in the end measure of things the OP is dead on and unfortunately there is a really negative side-effect of this issue - slow play.

And note that I didn't even mention if the player ends up in a bunker, another hazard, or OB. How many times have you seen a player hit the wrong iron into a green with water up in front only to end up drowning the ball, taking a penalty or two, getting discouraged, and taking a lot of time to finish up the hole? This underclubbing issue really is a huge problem. Glad the OP kept track and presented the definitive case because when you think about it if people would take one additional club in many cases odds are they would end up in better position, take less strokes to get it down, and ultimately the result would be faster play.
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#53 RSinSG

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:28 AM

BTW- when I saiid the shots come up short, I don't mean front fringe. I totally agree that strategically that may be the preferred place to end up. I mean 10-20 yards short of the green.  Then invariably the chip will be short too.
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#54 andrue

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 02:55 AM

View PostNorth Butte, on 10 May 2017 - 05:14 PM, said:

Our greens are very firm Bermuda grass. GIven that I don't spin the ball very much, anything longer than a wedge or 9-iron landing in the back fringe will not end up in the back fringe. It will be over the green.
Same here. On Saturday I hit a lob web from 60 yards. It landed two yards in front of the pin and then - despite being reasonably well hit by my standards - rolled another six yards. Unfortunately the pin was right at the back of the green and it rolled just enough to reach the drop on the other side. It didn't go all that far down but it left me having to chip up a 45 degree slope from grass tall enough to reach half way up the ball. The chip rolled past the hole further than the original landing point so I two putted out.

As it happens I don't have a shorter club than my lob but I would have been much better off if the ball had stopped on the front fringe. That would have been a long uphill putt and probably a one footer to finish. That would be a par almost every day as opposed to a bogey that could well have been a double bogie because of the chip.

View PostRSinSG, on 11 May 2017 - 12:28 AM, said:

BTW- when I saiid the shots come up short, I don't mean front fringe. I totally agree that strategically that may be the preferred place to end up. I mean 10-20 yards short of the green.  Then invariably the chip will be short too.
Hmmm. Interesting. I'm a high handicapper and most of my misses are left or right of the green. If I don't make the green it's usually because I just don't have the range. But then I use a Garmin Approach and I bought it because my distances were wrong. I went on a golfing holiday and on one course we were forced to have caddies. I was amazed that within a few holes my caddy knew my distances better than me. I also noticed how much he improved my scores and yes, I think he was encouraging me to club up all the time. So having understood what you're saying I think you may have a point.

I also use a laser range finder when chipping and when practising my chipping I make sure to learn how far each club is likely to send the ball.

Edited by andrue, 11 May 2017 - 03:05 AM.

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#55 Chris Wedgie

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:42 AM

I think golfers missing short often just shows that they are not very good. They either don't have a consistent swing or they don't know how far they hit the ball. Either issue means they will never be a single figure HC until they get it together.

Knowing your distance and course management is vital to scoring well. Further more, consistent swing with scoring clubs is a must, get out and practice more. I found range practice alternating mid and short irons or long and short irons Really helps. If I miss short on the range with scoring irons I am an emotional mess now hahaha

Edited by Chris Wedgie, 11 May 2017 - 06:56 AM.


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#56 FLAis4golferz

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:54 AM

Before I play a round I assess the trouble before I even go to the course. Most courses the big trouble is long so I usually plan for that. If I'm in between clubs I usually go for the one I have to flush to get there because if I thin the longer club then I'm suddenly on a downhill patchy lie with the green running away from me (typically).

I agree that most probably should just hit one more club but this sport is ego driven especially when you're with buddies or trying to impress a lady. Most golfers also just don't hit the center that often
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#57 larrybud

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 07:03 AM

View PostSeaOfGreen10, on 10 May 2017 - 04:18 PM, said:

View Postlarrybud, on 10 May 2017 - 06:22 AM, said:

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.

Ah, but that goes into course management and playing the percentages.  If you hit only 1 in 20 well, then you better be clubbing yourself for the 95% of your swings, and not that 1 in 20 shot.

The problem is figuring out how to club for a mishit. My average yardage for 8iron, factoring all mishits, can be 145 without ever actually hitting a shot that goes 145 yards....in which case I won't ever hit a green if I club to that.

I would say if you're short 19 out of 20 shots because of mishits, use an extra club, then reassess after a few rounds.

I would also say that you could categorize your shots into distance ranges.  So 100-125, 125-150, 150-175.  That would be the majority of approach shots that we're talking about, and mishits for longer shots have a larger margin of error.  In other words, if you mishit a 100 yard shot, it might go 92 yards, but mishit a 160 yard shot, and it might go 140.

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#58 Loki

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 09:07 PM

Hmmm, I find that most trouble is in front of the green.  Most bunkers are in front, most water is in front.  Designers know that people don't take enough club or mishit most shots so that's where the trouble is.  I would rather be over the green 10 yards than short 5 yards.  If I'm short 5 yards, I am in a bunker, if I am long 10 yards, I don't usually have a problem.  But that's just me.

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#59 No Catchy Nickname

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 10:34 PM

When I first started playing in Japan, there were a few courses where I always came up short, usually right on the front fringe, with my approach. It bugged me because I was getting the yardage right on the par 3s. Then I found out that a lot of courses here have on-course yardage markers (100 yards, 150, 200 etc.) to the front edge of the green, but the tee box yardage is to the centre. Really confusing.
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#60 North Butte

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 05:53 AM

View PostLoki, on 11 May 2017 - 09:07 PM, said:

Hmmm, I find that most trouble is in front of the green.  Most bunkers are in front, most water is in front.  Designers know that people don't take enough club or mishit most shots so that's where the trouble is.  I would rather be over the green 10 yards than short 5 yards.  If I'm short 5 yards, I am in a bunker, if I am long 10 yards, I don't usually have a problem.  But that's just me.

It depends entirely on the courses you play. My home course (where I play 120+ times a year) has a pond in front of one Par 5 green and one Par 3 green. There is one other hole fronted by bunkers. The other 15 of 18 greens are such that being more or less in line with the middle of the green and 10-15 yards short of the front of the green is a better place to be than a miss on any other side.

View Postlarrybud, on 11 May 2017 - 07:03 AM, said:

View PostSeaOfGreen10, on 10 May 2017 - 04:18 PM, said:

View Postlarrybud, on 10 May 2017 - 06:22 AM, said:

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.

Ah, but that goes into course management and playing the percentages.  If you hit only 1 in 20 well, then you better be clubbing yourself for the 95% of your swings, and not that 1 in 20 shot.

The problem is figuring out how to club for a mishit. My average yardage for 8iron, factoring all mishits, can be 145 without ever actually hitting a shot that goes 145 yards....in which case I won't ever hit a green if I club to that.

I would say if you're short 19 out of 20 shots because of mishits, use an extra club, then reassess after a few rounds.

I would also say that you could categorize your shots into distance ranges.  So 100-125, 125-150, 150-175.  That would be the majority of approach shots that we're talking about, and mishits for longer shots have a larger margin of error.  In other words, if you mishit a 100 yard shot, it might go 92 yards, but mishit a 160 yard shot, and it might go 140.

Good point. Or to put it another way, we have to decide when our goal is to hit it close with a good shot and when our goal is to keep it in play with a bad shot.

My 160-yard club is 5-iron. With any shot of that length I am totally trying to manage my misses. As you say, even a moderately poor shot might come up 20, 30, 40 yards short. Almost any sort of miss is likely enough to worry about.

My "go distance" is around 135-140 yards. That's a 7-iron for me and the goal there is for a well struck shot to be pin high or a couple yards long and a mishit shot to be (unless it's totally duffed, which does happen) maybe 8-10 yards short and still somewhere on the green or fringe.

There's no way to strategize around a topped shot that comes up 40 yards short or a fat one that only moves 20 feet or a pull-hook into the next ZIP code. A golfer of my meager ability just has to accept that a few times around I'll purely waste a shot from horrible execution.

But the broad range from "absolutely flushed" to "caught it solid" down to "didn't quite catch that one" covers maybe 80% of my short irons and 60% of my mid-iron shots. That's the range where being attuned to the likely range out outcomes and the actual situation of the shot is key. On the courses I play, given my pattern of misses, that "just take an extra club every time" simply doesn't work. Too many situations where long is dead.

Edited by North Butte, 12 May 2017 - 05:55 AM.

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