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I want to challenge Mark Broadie


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#1 George1174

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 08:07 AM

I just finished "Every shot counts". He basically says that regardless of handicap it would save more strokes if you'd play your longer shots better and spend less of your practice time on short game.

BUT: Let's imagine a standard hack who's happy to play 85 once in a while. Par 4 420yds (hold your "tee it forward"-comments, it's the standard men's tee). From 210-250yds on the right side there are grass knolls instead of a fairway bunker and you want to avoid them like you'd avoid a bunker. Right front of the green there's a grass bunker followed by a sand bunker. Right side of the hole is OOB, left side is tree lined and high rough. Our hack hits his standard drive 240ish at the left edge of the fairway to avoid the grass knolls. He now faces a 180-190yd shot over semirough and a bunker into the green. As he is our standard hack he is not able to pull off that high draw that goes around the bunker.
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[distances in meter]

From my experience on this hole there are many more shots lost by hitting long into the bunker or the grass bunker or the 3" semi around the green than by laying up to 30-40yds from the flag. Of course, laying up means one more stroke per the whole distance tee to green but our hack has not the ability to up-and-down from every bunker he hits or the downhill-lie-in-semi-rough-pitch that lands soft and stops. A bunker is intended to penalize if you hit one. So why risk the penal bunker shot (or two) if you can lay up and wedge it reasonably close.

And Mr. Broadie now tries to sell me on the idea that hitting a long club into the green is going to get a lower score than laying up and pitching it close?

As I see it, a 7I and a wedge are much easier to hit (even if he misses the fairway from the tee) than a 4I or 5I he'd need to clear that bunker. Even a hybrid wouldn't mean automatic success.

Whenever I bring up the importance of the practice green I get the answer that putting's less important than long game b/c Mark Broadie says so.

IMHO I can achieve more regarding my scores by spending an hour on the practice green than by spending that hour hitting Driver and 4I. And his statistical analysis does not account for layout of the holes.

Edited by George1174, 27 August 2017 - 08:10 AM.

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#2 Mr. Herbert

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 08:34 AM

Well, your one hole that may or may not be the exception to Broadie's rule is certainly enough for me to discount all of his research.

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#3 YoungJedi

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 08:36 AM

His analysis does tho...of course there might be one situation here and there like like yours.

He has tracked PGA, LPGA, other tours, and amateur events for years. So when statistics say the overwhelming majority of the time...you'll do better by what Broadie says...it's true

Not 100% of the time....but an overwhelming majority of the tim...yes.

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#4 chrisronline

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 08:46 AM

I think you'll find, statistically, that most folks can get the ball closer to the hole within 20 yards of the green than 80-100 yards, even from a bunker. Chances are that if the player isn't capable of getting it reasonably close out of the bunker, they are probably not hitting wedge shots that close either. Again, this is most people and there will always be exceptions.
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#5 Rusty1885

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 11:11 AM

Every shot counts is like a how-to book for poker or blackjack.  Analytical yet detached, both are not the high handicappers strong suits.

Most high handicappers hit "big fade", I have not played with any HH, who doesn't aim the middle of every fairways. Nor have I seen any play their percentage shots. If they read the book, they would come away with different perspectives than low handicappers.  My thought is that the book's target audiences are pros and low handicappers.

Long games take much longer to develop and mastered. Short game is the opposite, after the initial learning curve, it just requires practice to maintain the sharp touch.  

It's also a prerequisite, i often play with high handicappers who take minimum 4 shots from 60 yards, 3 putts almost every holes, so what if he takes a 185 yards 3 wood to within a wedge shot from the green.

If we have 2 fresh off the boat high handicappers, give every shots count to one and give a short game bible to another, the short game guy would beat the other within a year and stay ahead of the curve from that point. I have no doubt.

Edited by Rusty1885, 27 August 2017 - 11:15 AM.

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#6 North Butte

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 11:31 AM

Short game Bible. That would be the one where you write three yardages on a piece of tape and stick it to the shaft of each wedge, right?

Mere data and analysis can't argue with logic like that!

Dave Pelz, God love him, did a great job back when no actual data existed.  But he was eyeballing distances and guessing where he thought players were aiming, then applying very rudimentary  percentages and averages to a convenience sample.

I'm not surprised at all that when actual data became available it showed many of his conclusions to be flawed.  It was worth it though, because he's made a good living off it.

Edited by North Butte, 27 August 2017 - 11:35 AM.

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#7 MtlJeff

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 02:13 PM

I have not read the book, But i find so much of this depends on course.

I have played a bunch of different courses and have been a member at 3. My last course there were trees and stuff, but you could always hit escape shots. I never went to the course worried that i wouldn't get to "play shots" into greens. Because you could have a poor driving day and unless you got really unlucky still have a lot of shots into greens. When i was there my great rounds usually came down to making putts or not doing dumb stuff to make doubles

My current course has OB or stakes on damn near every hole. If you don't have a good long game you simply can't score there.

I guess a bad short game shot can cost you a stroke, a bad long game shot can cost you 2-3 on some courses
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#8 Rusty1885

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 02:14 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 27 August 2017 - 11:31 AM, said:

Short game Bible. That would be the one where you write three yardages on a piece of tape and stick it to the shaft of each wedge, right?

Mere data and analysis can't argue with logic like that!

Dave Pelz, God love him, did a great job back when no actual data existed.  But he was eyeballing distances and guessing where he thought players were aiming, then applying very rudimentary  percentages and averages to a convenience sample.

I'm not surprised at all that when actual data became available it showed many of his conclusions to be flawed.  It was worth it though, because he's made a good living off it.

I didn't have Pelz in mind, I just meant short game books in generally as they are too many to choose, but Pelz works too.  

What's wrong with the clock systems, it works for most people and definitely works for me.

I'm not knocking Broadie but I just don't think it would help high handicappers as much or as fast as "short game" focus strategy.  I like what I read and at times it helps my low scores. What he said is what high handicappers are doing and low handicappers stop doing or doing less,  hitting drivers off every tee, going for shots with longest club, getting it closest to the green, instead of playing it safe and lay up to comfortable wedge distance.  

Like everything else shocking truth like putting,and FIR are overrated would sell a lot of books.  Also things like short game does not gain as much stroke as driver would encourage more golfers to hit drivers off the tee and practice on the range instead of earring their way to put a driver into their bag.
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#9 Rusty1885

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 02:17 PM

View Postthesamwise, on 27 August 2017 - 12:16 PM, said:

View PostGeorge1174, on 27 August 2017 - 08:07 AM, said:


Whenever I bring up the importance of the practice green I get the answer that putting's less important than long game b/c Mark Broadie says so.


I've literally never heard anyone say this. Are you hanging out with some weird Broadie cult?

Not on the course because they can't back it up with the long game performance but online and in person not on the course, I encounter this many times.
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#10 matthewb

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 02:32 PM

View PostRusty1885, on 27 August 2017 - 02:14 PM, said:


I'm not knocking Broadie but I just don't think it would help high handicappers as much or as fast as "short game" focus strategy.  I like what I read and at times it helps my low scores. What he said is what high handicappers are doing and low handicappers stop doing or doing less,  hitting drivers off every tee, going for shots with longest club, getting it closest to the green, instead of playing it safe and lay up to comfortable wedge distance.  

You should go back and reread Broadie.

He clearly states that the fastest way to improve a high handicappers's golf game is via short game improvement.

No where does he state that driver should be hit every hole. The goal is distance while simultaneously avoiding hazards and penalty shots.

It's not clear who you're arguing with but it isn't Mark Broadie.


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#11 golfgirlrobin

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 03:04 PM

You can't take data that is based on thousands of golfers and holes and apply it to single individuals or holes like you're trying to do.
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#12 Rusty1885

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 03:51 PM

View Postmatthewb, on 27 August 2017 - 02:32 PM, said:

View PostRusty1885, on 27 August 2017 - 02:14 PM, said:


I'm not knocking Broadie but I just don't think it would help high handicappers as much or as fast as "short game" focus strategy.  I like what I read and at times it helps my low scores. What he said is what high handicappers are doing and low handicappers stop doing or doing less,  hitting drivers off every tee, going for shots with longest club, getting it closest to the green, instead of playing it safe and lay up to comfortable wedge distance.  

You should go back and reread Broadie.

He clearly states that the fastest way to improve a high handicappers's golf game is via short game improvement.

No where does he state that driver should be hit every hole. The goal is distance while simultaneously avoiding hazards and penalty shots.

It's not clear who you're arguing with but it isn't Mark Broadie.

The whole thing?  I don't think so.

That's how high handicappers takes it.  Many times when the subject of short game come up it's countered by the stroke gain theory.  It's like a common sense backed by data.

"Both" Pelz and Broadie agree that for most everyone, the best and surest way to lower your score is to work on the short game.

The book was written for better players who want to shave strokes not high handicappers in general. Better players and pros have more shot options as they can pull off both options with high(er) success rate and their recovery skills from more difficult lies are higher. The topic is about high handicappers and stroke gain, and that's my 2 cents.

I know I don't play with "every high handicappers" but all I play with tee every par 4s and 5s and occasionally par 3s with the driver, not because of Broadie, it's what they do. Quite a few I know own the book in some format or another none have finish the book but all read the first chapter. Do you remember what it is? It's putting is overrated:Why conventional wisdom gets it wrong.

I'm not arguing with Broadie because he's really not saying anything we don't already know but provoking the thoughts that it can pay off with the stroke gain percentage.

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#13 Loki

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 09:18 PM

View PostRusty1885, on 27 August 2017 - 11:11 AM, said:

Every shot counts is like a how-to book for poker or blackjack.  Analytical yet detached, both are not the high handicappers strong suits.

Most high handicappers hit "big fade", I have not played with any HH, who doesn't aim the middle of every fairways. Nor have I seen any play their percentage shots. If they read the book, they would come away with different perspectives than low handicappers.  My thought is that the book's target audiences are pros and low handicappers.

Long games take much longer to develop and mastered. Short game is the opposite, after the initial learning curve, it just requires practice to maintain the sharp touch.  

It's also a prerequisite, i often play with high handicappers who take minimum 4 shots from 60 yards, 3 putts almost every holes, so what if he takes a 185 yards 3 wood to within a wedge shot from the green.

If we have 2 fresh off the boat high handicappers, give every shots count to one and give a short game bible to another, the short game guy would beat the other within a year and stay ahead of the curve from that point. I have no doubt.

I don't get this comparison.  One is a how to book the other is a what happens if book.

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#14 Loki

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 09:25 PM

I agree with Broadie.  Within reason, I try to get as close as I can to the green on all par 5's.  It's no wonder most of my birdies are on par 5's.  I am pretty good at 60, 70, 80 yards.  Even better at 20, 30, 40.

Data also shows that if you want to break 80?  Get you GIR's above 9.  Short game is futile at best since if you get up and down 50% of the time you are doing REALLY good.  Short game only really starts to affect things when you start to have consistency with the full swing.

Edited by Loki, 27 August 2017 - 09:25 PM.


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#15 Shilgy

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 11:15 PM

View Postchrisronline, on 27 August 2017 - 08:46 AM, said:

I think you'll find, statistically, that most folks can get the ball closer to the hole within 20 yards of the green than 80-100 yards, even from a bunker. Chances are that if the player isn't capable of getting it reasonably close out of the bunker, they are probably not hitting wedge shots that close either. Again, this is most people and there will always be exceptions.
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#16 LeftDaddy

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 11:41 PM

My thesis advisor was one of the guys that created the Strokes Gained methodology with Broadie. He sent me their original research paper, but said they had to dumb it down a lot for the tour to even think about using it.

Anyway, the OP seems to have misunderstood a lot of the points made in ESC. Broadie was only trying to point out how some conventional advice can be misleading when looked at through the strokes gained lens. For some, it may be better to focus on short putts. For others, the driver. And for others, irons. He does give some generalizations for 90+ players, and the finer point in all of that is not so much that improvement in your short game isn't good, it's just that some improvement doesn't quite benefit in fewer strokes, whereas other improvement does benefit in fewer strokes. Thus, focus where there is a benefit to total strokes.
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#17 RichieHunt

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 07:30 AM

At best, you've only proved your point anecdotally.  For the most part, statistical analysis isn't about certainty...it's about probability.  The example I like to use is if I came up to you and said that I bet you $100 that I can flip this quarter 5 times in a row and it will land on heads each time...yes, it *could* land on heads each time.  However, the probability of that happening is roughly 3% of the time.  And it would behoove you to take the bet because the odds are strongly in your favor (so much so that from a statistical perspective that if the quarter landed on heads each time, you should check out to see if the quarter/flip is legit).

But, in your scenario if a weekend duffer who was happy to shoot 85 and hits his drives usually about 220 yards...suddenly works on his game and smacks a 260 yard drive down the middle...that leads to an enormous advantage.  And if he continues to do that over the course of a round, the likelihood of his scores going downward and by a significant amount becomes greater.  The same if that golfer improves their approach shot play.  All of this compared to say improving your putting or shots from 10-50 yards.





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#18 North Butte

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 07:44 AM

An extreme example to illustrate the difference between knowing what technique could stand improvement vs. knowing what is costing shots would be my bunker game. I am a truly awful bunker player. Maybe not the worst among hackers I've seen but only the truly pathetic ones leave more shots in the bunker or blade more over the green than I do.

Occasionally someone I play with makes a comment like, "If you'd just spend an hour in the practice bunker once in a while it would save you a bunch of shots". And it does look like I'm just throwing away strokes wholesale.

But here's the thing. I'm almost never in bunkers in the first place. According to Strokes Gained (using Broadie's app) the cost of my atrocious bunker game is about -0.8 strokes per round versus a scratch player. So yeah, that's nearly a stroke a round. But by comparison I average nearly 5 strokes per round lost with my driver and another 4-5 strokes with approach shot play.

Even if I practiced and took lessons and became a scratch-level bunker players my average scores would be around 88 instead of 89. Big deal!

I used to semi-regularly play at a course where the sand was so ever-present it was almost literally impossible to play a round without being in two or three bunkers. And being in half a dozen in a single round wasn't unheard of. If I had Stroke Gained stats from my rounds there (I do not) I'd bet the number would be 3 or 4 strokes per round lost due to bad bunker play. If I were going to play there 100+ times a year like I do at my home course I'd have to fix my bunker technique or else. But playing at home, there's just not much scoring improvement on the table for me in the sand game.
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#19 Fade to Black

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 07:50 AM

When did shooting 85 classify someone as a "standard hack"?
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#20 TB07

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 08:39 AM

And a standard hack also messes up layups. But the point is over time getting better at long shots of the course of many rounds is going to make you better. Laying up on a par 4 at best you make par. Hitting the green you have a chance at birdie and likely easy par. Again, over time the later is more conducive to better scores.


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#21 TB07

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 08:48 AM

Also, I do t think the research is geared for someone who's ceiling is 85. Its about higher percentages to be the best you can, it's not about what's best to shoot 85.

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#22 North Butte

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 09:01 AM

View PostTB07, on 28 August 2017 - 08:48 AM, said:

Also, I do t think the research is geared for someone who's ceiling is 85. Its about higher percentages to be the best you can, it's not about what's best to shoot 85.

He does talk in the book about the "90's shooter" and so forth but I think he tends to gloss over one aspect that makes the 25-handicap's choices a lot fuzzier than even the 6, 8, 10 handicap guys (at least the ones I play with).

Even a halfway decent player can usually (not every single time!) count on executing two "easy" shots in a row somewhat acceptably. If he passes up a hybrid approach shot over a pond in favor or a 9-iron layup followed by a sand wedge over the water he can figure at least 90% of the time those two shots will each get airborne and travel in the general direction of the green. For a Tour player that's more like 99%. So he's passing up a scoring opportunity in favor of something close to certainty of avoiding the big number.

Hacks like me can not do that calculation. It's all a roll of the dice at best. My 9-iron layup may be bladed and roll into the hazard. Or it may be duffed and leave me another iron shot instead of a wedge. And the second shot itself can easily be dumped into the water, bladed over the green or yanked into some other trouble 40 yards away from where I'm aiming.

Which isn't to say a hacker should be going for shots with a 4-hybrid over water. It's just to say you can't add up strokes gained values for one shot versus two shots and assume some fixed probabilities.

I'm a firm believer that past a certain point (not sure that it's the 85-shooter but it's certainly true of the guys struggling to break 100) there's a whole 'nother universe of advice that makes sense. It can't be derived from Strokes Gained analysis at all and certainly can't be extrapolated from Strokes Gained tables based on ShotLink PGA Tour stats.

As you say, advice about minimizing your average scoring as a 15-handicap is quite different from advice about maximizing your chances of breaking 90 for the first time (or breaking 100!).
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#23 jasonfish11

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 09:14 AM

View PostMr. Herbert, on 27 August 2017 - 08:34 AM, said:

Well, your one hole that may or may not be the exception to Broadie's rule is certainly enough for me to discount all of his research.

Why did this thread extend past the 1st response?

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#24 larrybud

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 09:38 AM

Broadie just reports on statistical data.  It's the player that needs to understand that data and use game management to work in risk/reward into the equation, since the overall statistical data is just that, an overall.

An extreme obvious example, If a player has 250 to the hole, and the last 75 yards is over water, you don't take your "longest club" (assuming you can't clear the water) and get as close to the hole as possible, as close to the hole as possible is in the middle on the pond.

However, using the data from Broadie's work, you will lay it up to 90 to 100 yards rather than 150.

In other words, the player needs to be able to put a weight to the risk/reward of the shot and also understand his own abilities.

By the way, I see plenty of 85 shooters blade their shot after a layup over the green, so that needs to be weighed as well.

Edited by larrybud, 28 August 2017 - 09:39 AM.


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#25 LeftDaddy

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 09:43 AM

One other thing to add, and probably the biggest thing I took from ESC.

I have a good friend who is a low single digit hcp, and he's an "analytical type" like me.

Anyway, I have sought advice from him over the years as to how to get better, and have watched him play to try to learn.

My observations would suggest that he is just way more consistent off the tee than I, and his iron play is a lot sharper. He also has a better short game and is a better putter, but I wouldn't say by much. He and I hit driver the same length, and I'm generally a club longer than him with irons. So my summary is that I need to improve with my irons first, and tee game second. And my short game is good enough right now that it doesn't have to be a big focus.

When I asked him what he thought, he said I needed to improve my wedge game (60 - 120 yds). He put it to me like "if you are between 60 and 120, you need to be putting from inside 10 feet every time ". That's certainly good advice, but probably a bit "conventional". It didn't match up with my observations.

So when I read ESC, I largely took that it mostly refuted my friend's advice. I get into too much trouble off the tee, and I manage to screw up enough approach shots such that no amount of short game improvement in the short term is going to have a huge impact on my score. I'm not "great" at short game, but I'd put my short game up against many 5+ caps and feel like I'd be in the upper quartile at worst.

When I discussed this with him, he couldn't get past the "conventional"...he had been coached that wedges were key to scoring and no amount of newfangled advice would change his mind on that. Again, I don't disagree that better wedge play helps with scoring, but I probably hit maybe 4 strokes a round in that distance, and screw it up maybe once. It might cost me 1 to 2 strokes per round, although I'm not convinced of that. But I average maybe 3 GIR per round and manage to have a 10 handicap. My short game isn't what is costing me most of those strokes. It's getting myself in trouble off the tee, and it's iron play.

ESC gave me a way to articulate that to myself.

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#26 larrybud

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 09:46 AM

I'll also add a personal example.  Played in the GAM championship, and the yardages were way too long for me.  One hole was 460 par 4, OB right.  I couldn't get my drive up this one particular hill, and it would filter down and to the right leaving me a much longer shot in than I would want.  So my lack of driving distance of hitting it another 20 yards actually hurt me by something like 50 yards, because I would essentially have negative rollout.

So on the 2nd shot, which was usually 230ish, uphill, to for me was a blind shot, with no trees in the background to get a good line, and with OB to the right of the green, very much in play, the decision had to be made.  Try to get a 3w as close as possible, risking OB, or hit a 6 or 7 iron to a pitch away.  I chose the latter, because the risk of hitting it OB far outweighed any benefit I would get by hitting it closer to the green (at least, in my calculations).  The advantage of hitting it closer might have been 1/5 of a stroke (I couldn't reach the green), but the risk of hitting it OB that I might do, let's say, 1 in 5, is a 2 shot penalty.  

So if I didn't hit it OB 4 of the 5 times, I would save 4/5 of a stroke, but the 1 time I did hit it out, it would cost me 2 strokes., so my overall average would be a loss of 1 1/5 of a stroke.

This might seem complicated for some, but took about 10 seconds to make this decision.

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#27 larrybud

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 09:51 AM

View PostLeftDaddy, on 28 August 2017 - 09:43 AM, said:

But I average maybe 3 GIR per round and manage to have a 10 handicap. My short game isn't what is costing me most of those strokes. It's getting myself in trouble off the tee, and it's iron play.

Think of a guy who could improve his wedge game from your 60-120 yard distance where the overall improvement might be 1.5 shots per round total, vs the 1 tee shot that he lets go into the woods causing him to retee, and costing himself 2 shots in 1 swing.

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#28 PerseveringGolf

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 09:52 AM

so getting up and down beside any green will give you a higher score than hitting long clubs better?


ummm, I think not but the game does need all parts working, so if your long game equates to 40 yard skitter tee shots every time then he has a point.

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#29 bph7

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 10:04 AM

View PostPerseveringGolf, on 28 August 2017 - 09:52 AM, said:

so getting up and down beside any green will give you a higher score than hitting long clubs better?


ummm, I think not but the game does need all parts working, so if your long game equates to 40 yard skitter tee shots every time then he has a point.

Top tour players are 2/3 scrambling. There's also not as big of a difference between top tour guys scrambling vs avg compared to top tour guys driving vs avg. When trying to get "closest to pin" (where holing out counts as zero), how much difference would there be between you and tour players on one foot putts?  Would the difference increase on three footers?  Nine footers? How bout 600 yarders (i.e. Tee shots on long par 5s)?  As the difference gets bigger, I hope it's clear the difference between you and your players would increase.

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#30 Cool Hand Luke

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 10:39 AM

While i think the OP is misunderstood on the application of Broadie's data, it's a good thread because I think most are in the same boat. Coming from medicine (however not a statistician), I liken Broadie's data to the NNT concept. This is the Number-Needed-to-Treat, and like strokes gained, is quite difficult for lay people to understand. Hell, even a lot of physicians don't understand it well and/or don't know how to apply it correctly. The NNT estimates the number of patients that need to be treated in order to have an impact on one person; as we know not everyone is helped by a medicine or intervention--some benefit, some are harmed, and some are unaffected. This is how I see Broadie's data being applied. A lot of golfers will derive more benefit from improving the long game, but some still will be 'harmed' and some will be 'unaffected', score-wise.

Edited by Cool Hand Luke, 28 August 2017 - 10:40 AM.

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