In no particular order, here are the points that Broadie's book makes that kills all the "classic" instruction:
- how often do you hit a putt out of bounds
- tour pros don't make significantly more putts from a long distance than we do
- longer drivers tend to be straighter drivers
- the closer to the hole you are, the better your score on the hole will be
- approach shots(distance to the hole) are the biggest contributor to scoring(sorry larrybud).
The old saw of "short game, short game, short game" has some validity, but not nearly as much as it was thought. Yes it's the quickest way to turn 100 into 95. Usually. But if a player is always lying par and they're not on the green, guess what? Those scores are not coming down any time soon with short game work.
There is a threshold where being in the fairway a little further back is better than being the rough but closer, but when you start talking 20 yds, that kind of goes away. So long as you don't put yourself in a penalty or recovery situation, you are usually better off being closer. Being closer gets you closer. Woods was hardly the model of tee shot consistency during his heyday(but he didn't often put himself in real trouble), but he was by far the closest to the hole on average on approach shots. And he was the #1 ranked player during that time.
Which comes to the other part of the equation: pros aren't better putters because they will sink 60 of 100 30 footers while we'll sink 4. They're better putters because they start closer to the hole than we do. You make a lot more birdies from 10 feet than from 30. BUt if you're someone that is usually only getting on the green in 4 on a par 4, then being 30 feet out for birdie is a big improvement, because you're likely to two putt that. A lot of time on the putting green is not going to change that for the better. But if you can stop OB tee shots, or even getting out of position, now all of a sudden you see some significant numbers of shots disappear.
"Drive for show, putt for dough" applies to a particular week on tour. The guy who wins a particular week usually is within the top 2-3 in SG Putting. But over a season, the guy who wins the most money is the guy whose SG from the long game, particularly approach shots, is at or near the top. For us, our handicaps will improve a lot more if we get the tee shot and approach shots in play/good positions. And I disagree with larrybud about the GIR. When a pin is closer to an edge, especially a spot with not a lot of rough/bunker, I'd rather be a couple feet off and be 10 feet away than be on the green but 30 feet away. *That's* when short game work will pay off.