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Opinion & Analysis

Driver or 3-wood off the tee?



I’ve been in a driving slump lately. Balls that once reliably went straight and (by my standards) long now may go left, right, or may not be long enough even to reach the trouble they are mistakenly headed toward.

Maybe four or five times a round now, my once trusty big stick sends a golf ball off into the no man’s land where good scores go to die.

By the 16th hole a few days ago, a friend who’d just closed me out suggested I use 3-wood off the tee instead of my erratic driver.

[quote_box_center]“You can’t hit it any worse,” I think is what he said.[/quote_box_center]

I didn’t listen to him of course; I hit driver like I always do and I finished OK. But it made me wonder, maybe I should hit 3-wood sometimes. I went out to some local courses to ask other golfers how often they hit 3-wood instead of driver.

“You’re giving up, what? Twenty yards hitting 3-wood?” Craig asked when I prodded him on the subject over a beer after his round at Greystalks.

“I suppose, yes, maybe 25,” I said. “But you’re trading that distance for accuracy.”

“Son,” he answered with his southern drawl, “you haven’t seen me hit 3-wood then.”

For players who pound the ball with nearly pro-like distance, giving up 20 yards, even on a 430-yard par-4, doesn’t really make that much difference; they sometimes happily trade that distance for accuracy.

[quote_box_center]“When I need to be in the fairway,” long-hitting Paul told me before teeing off, “I’ll hit 3-wood. But on most holes I use driver. It’s part of why I love golf, hitting a big drive. And I can fly those fairway bunkers on the right…”[/quote_box_center]

Of course sometimes the set-up of the hole dictates 3-wood instead of driver.

“I hit my driver 260 or so with maybe 230 yards carry,” Anthony said at Greendale GC. “If there’s trouble around 250, then I hit 3-wood off the tee. If the trouble ends before, say, 215, then I go over it.”

“What about trouble left or right?” I asked.

“I keep my driver straight enough,” he answered confidently.

For most golfers, the 3-wood is a more accurate club than driver off the tee.

“On a tight hole,” Steven, a 6-handicap in his mid-30s told me, “if there’s trouble right, I’ll consider hitting 3-wood. My usual miss with the driver is right, not left.”

Short par-4s are also a time when some weekend golfers choose the 3-wood off the tee.

[quote_box_center]“No way, boss,” Darrin contradicted me. “A short par-4 is when I want to power my drive as far as I can.”[/quote_box_center]

His friend Larson was standing with us on the driving range.

“I’ll try and lay-up to 80 or 90 yards for a full sand wedge on a short-4,” he said, “but I’ll use my hybrid probably, or maybe the 4-iron, not the 3-wood.”

“That’s playing it smart,” I said.

“Usually, not always,” Darrin interrupted. “There’s nothing worse than him trying to lay-up and then hitting the ball into trouble. I have to tell him there’s no whining in golf.”

I read somewhere that a good way for players to decide when to hit 3-wood rather than driver is to play a practice round on their home course hitting both driver and 3-wood (or whatever your longest wood is) off each tee to compare the results.

I tried it. I went to Verde Greens Country Club on a warm-to-hot Sunday afternoon in the Coachella Valley. I played a match: a Titleist ball with the driver vs. a Bridgestone with the 3-wood.

I had the course virtually to myself. That is, no one was there to see me skim my first drive 110 yards off the tee. I immediately put the Bridgestone on a peg and hit the 3-wood really well. I thought maybe I was on to something, but eventually both balls made a bogey on the par-5 opener.

The driver clearly struggled at the start, leaving the 3-wood/Bridgestone team in better shape off the tee through the first five driving holes. Despite that, the match was tied in holes, though a greenside failure left Titleist a stroke down.

Then driver hit its stride, with the Titleist finding the fairway on six of the next seven holes. Those favorable drives led to a stretch of pars and a two-hole, one-stroke lead.

When it was all over, on the 14 test holes (non par-3s), the Titleist and driver won match play 2-up shooting 68 to 3-wood and Bridgestone’s 69.

The driver and 3-wood each hit tee shots that led to five GIR, and three of those were the same holes, handicaps 3, 12 and 14, two short par-4s and a par-5.

On three of the 10 par-4s, the approach shots for the driver/Titleist were wedge distance, three times they were 7-irons and the others were long irons or hybrids. The 3-wood’s approach shots four times were another 3-wood, three were middle irons, two were wedges, and one was a 9-iron.

The driver outdistanced the 3-wood on nine of the 14 test holes by an average around 18 yards. Four of the other five holes were short wins by the 3-wood and the other was the aforementioned 110-yard driver on the opening hole.

The 3-wood/Bridgestone combination hit the fairway 12 of 14 times with one major screw-up. The driver found only nine fairways, hit two bunkers and had two misses right and one short.

An important difference I noted came on the three longest par-4s. On those, the second shot after the 3-wood drive was another 3-wood. And on one of those holes the Bridgestone had no chance to reach the green in regulation, while the Titleist was left with a hybrid 3-iron approach.

What to make of this?

It was just one round and there’s not enough data to be conclusive; clearly though, I’m capable of hitting both good and bad shots with both the driver and the 3-wood. If I only knew which was going to be which in advance.

Still, the overall advantage was with the driver, though perhaps there’s something to be gained by not automatically grabbing it on every par-4 or par-5.

I can’t tell you now what club I’m going to use on No. 1 next Saturday, I don’t know. But I do know that at some point in the round, after a poorly struck driver or 3-wood, I’ll probably think to myself: “I should have hit the tee shot with the other club.”

Do you sometimes hit 3-wood off the tee? What’s your game plan for using driver and 3-wood? Let us know in the comments section below. And read the humorous story of Don “Tin Foil” Reynolds as he tries to shoot the round of his life: check out Get free shipping on Tom Hill’s paperback, A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth, with the code GOLFWRX, or $4 off on the e-book when you enter the code GOLFWRX1 at check-out. It’s a great Father’s Day gift.

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Tom Hill is a 9.7 handicap, author and former radio reporter. Hill is the author of the recently released fiction novel, A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth, a humorous golf saga of one player’s unexpected attempt to shoot a score he never before thought possible. Kirkus Reviews raved about A Perfect Lie, (It) “has the immediacy of a memoir…it’s no gimme but Hill nails it square.” ( A Perfect Lie is available as an ebook or paperback through and the first three chapters are available online to sample. Hill is a dedicated golfer who has played more than 2,000 rounds in the past 30 years and had a one-time personal best handicap of 5.5. As a freelance radio reporter, Hill covered more than 60 PGA and LPGA tournaments working for CBS Radio, ABC Radio, AP Audio, The Mutual Broadcasting System and individual radio stations around the country. “Few knew my name and no one saw my face,” he says, “but millions heard my voice.” Hill is the father of three sons and lives with his wife, Arava Talve, in southern California where he chases after a little white ball as often as he can.



  1. Ed

    Sep 16, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    Great another single digit golfer’s opinion on 3 wood vs driver off the tee. I love the comments from those who just don’t understand why you just don’t use the driver or that all you need to do is choke down a bit. After 15 years of practice and lessons I still spray the ball all over the place with the driver my second shot is 90% of the time from the rough or behind a tree or drop from lateral or water hazard. When I play 3 wood I shoot in the mid 80’s with the driver mid 90’s. I know in theory if I can hit the 3 wood straight and far I should be able to do the same with driver but after 15 years of trying I have decided to shot lower scores instead.

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  4. Trey Wingbat

    Aug 31, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    I don’t understand how it’s easier to hit a 3 or 5 wood off the tee rather than a driver? If I want to hit a shorter shot, say 240 yards or so off the tee, I simply choke down on my driver, and it does the trick every time. The bigger club head seems to me like you’d be much more consistent off a driver than a 3 or 5 wood.

    I do also choke down on my pitching wedge and gap wedge when within a certain distance, so maybe I have the entire concept of choking down to a tee (pardon the pun), and most people don’t even consider this.

  5. Chris

    May 30, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    I often use 3 wood on uphill drives, and downwind drives. My overall total distance is often quite similar in those 2 situations and the 3 wood gives me an accuracy advantage. And on tight longer holes I’ll often reach for 3 wood or hybrid even if it’ll leave me an extra club or two in on the approach because after I analyzed stats it made an approximate .2+ strokes per hole difference in those situations to find the fairway.

  6. et

    May 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

    all goes out the window when you mess up the conservative 3wood off the tee to end up 200 plus out for the second shot.

  7. Jeff

    May 24, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Yall haven’t moved up to the white tees yet? Ha. Keep spending money. See ya next year.

  8. Lowell Madanes

    May 24, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    A lot of the decision is really based on how accurate you are with your driver. If you are talking hooks and slices then for sure we would be in for using 3 wood off the tee. If you are talking slight pulls and pushes, then I would stick with the distance over accuracy. I average 285 off the tee and my 4 wood gets me in the 245 range. Would I give up 40 yards in order to be a little straighter. Answer would be no in my case. I would much rather be further up an extra 40 yards and be off of the fairway in the rough rather than 40 yards back and be in the fairway. Mind you my example here is a staight forward par 4 that has typical bunkers. Each hole and each course will vary and taking one over the other is personal preference. Go with which club hits it the furthest and most accurate.

  9. Paddy

    May 21, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I struggle to answer this question too. I’m an aggressive player and always use the driver (except for par 3s of course) with a handicap of 13. My driver swing speed is between 95-98 mph and carry 230 yards with a maximum distance of 270-280 yards on a good day. Recently I’ve started to reduce my swing speed by 20% to allow for batter accuracy as I usually have a disgusting slice at 100%. Using my 3 wood at 100% swing, I can reach 250 yards on a good day with accuracy. I’d always ask my playing partner for advice on what to use on each tee and his response is “driver – always driver” so I tend to use my 3 wood on my 2nd shot for par 5s. I issue is that I lack the confidence on using the 3 wood off the tee even though I am more accurate with it than the driver, I guess the thought that goes through my head is how embarrassing it would be if I miss hit the 3 wood off the tee as the other plays may judge me and have a misconception that I think I’m better than them as I use a 3 wood instead of a driver off the tee. A couple of weeks ago, I was paired up with a golfer who could easily hit 300+ yards off the tee with his driver and only used it a handful of times on that round. So I asked him how he determines what club to use off the tee and his response was; any holes that plays 380 yards or below, he uses his 3 wood and this will increase your confidence with every 3 wood shots. So going forwards, I’m going to use this rule and see how I fair compared to using the driver for every tee.

  10. RobG

    May 21, 2015 at 10:08 am

    I have a young family and I work in the consulting industry, the only time I get to play golf is with clients, suppliers, industry sponsored tournaments, and company scrambles. When playing in those situations it’s almost always white tees in the 6000-6300 yard range. If I hit driver off the tee on most par 4’s I’m left with awkward 60-90 yard approach shots and since I don’t play that much those shots are very difficult. I would much rather hit 3W off the tee and give up 30 yards so I can hit full wedges and short irons into greens.

  11. Desmond

    May 20, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    On tighter holes, I typically forget to grip down 1.5 inches for more control because I’m working on swing thoughts …. lol

  12. Rich

    May 20, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I will hit either depending on the course set up at my home club. For example, the 10th is a 389 metre par 4 from the tips. I hit driver from that tee because I can’t reach the fairway bunker. If the tees are forward, I hit three wood because the fairway bunker is in play for driver. It would be the opposite on 16 though. 351 metre par 4 and if the tees are back I’ll hit short of the fairway bunker with 3 iron or something and if the tees are up, I’ll hit driver over the fairway bunker. If it’s driver or 3 wood or whatever else, the shot you play should have the highest percentage for you to have your best score, not just pound it down the fairway.

  13. Alex

    May 20, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I always go with my driver, save a very short par 4 that needs a hybrid. The thing is the driver is the club I feel most confident about in my bag. Now the other day I took 5 clubs for a quick nine. I grabbed my 3 wood instead of driver and I realized I can hit it really long and straight off the tee. So I’m considering now.

  14. Dave S

    May 20, 2015 at 10:57 am

    I go through highs and lows with my driver as well. Currently I can’t hit it in play to save my life, so I left it in the bag for two round in a row on two pretty tough courses. I played better than I would have hitting driver. For me, getting a ball in the fairway (or at least in the first cut with a look at the hole) means a world of difference in my scores. Like most amateurs, I suffer from the one or two blow-up holes a round that wreak your score. That Par 5 where you hit your drive into the trees that then requires you to hit 3/5 wood off the deck on your second shot to even have a shot at bogey, ends-up turning into a triple, murdering your score. If I hit a ball over 200 yds into the fairway, I’m pretty much guaranteed no less than bogey since I’m decently proficient with my irons, short game and putting. But I just cannot afford the errant tee shot… Until I can get to the range for a long practice session to hopefully work out the kinks in my driver swing, I’ll be hitting 3w for the foreseeable future.

  15. Pete

    May 20, 2015 at 10:04 am

    I hit 3-wood 12 of 14 times a round. I actually only grab the driver if I have lost some confidence after a bad tee shot with my 3-wood (because the face is so big). I hit the 3 just as far, if not further, and definitely straighter. I bought the Callaway X Hot 3 Deep to make this 3-wood a mini-driver. Works great, and I am contemplating dropping the driver all together and adding another hybrid. Definitely worth a try.

  16. Kurt

    May 20, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Good test; interesting and well written article.

    For me, I think the call is situational. Some days, if getting stuck with the Driver (my fault), then the 3W is a stop gap. I tend not to overs wing that club and it ends up in play.

    Further, on certain holes, I think the decision comes down to confidence. Everyone has holes that don’t “fit their eye.” Don’t overthink it. Hit the 3W on those holes, sacrifice the distance, but save the stroke or poor result because of a less than committed swing.

  17. Golfraven

    May 20, 2015 at 4:55 am

    Currently making friends with my 3 FW then my driver. Even with same shaft I am hitting it better with the wood and more consistent. For now the driver will only be used on the driving range.

  18. Mike

    May 20, 2015 at 3:30 am

    Well written article on your experience with the driver / 3 wood trade off.

    I’d advise you to purchase Richie Hunt’s work, namely Pro Golf Psynosis 2013. He studdied tour stats and numbers (so i agree the data suggests more elite level performance principles) but his research led to designers listening and the design of clubs such as the SLDR mini driver / phrankenwood.

    His research is sound and also takes into account the likely proximity to the hole from both driver follow up shots and 3 wood shots, both fairway and rough.

    He is a fellow writer for this site.

    Nice work Tom.

  19. Philip

    May 19, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I’ll continue to hit 2 wood until I can hit my driver further (no slice/duff/hook). Besides my max with both is the same, so until I can pipe my 2W straight down the middle with a draw/fade that was by choice – in the bag it’ll stay.

    • adam

      May 20, 2015 at 12:25 am


      • TheCityGame

        May 20, 2015 at 9:50 am

        Love it when people correct others and they’re incorrect, or only marginally correct in very specific circumstances.

        “Many counterexamples could be found, however, and using further in place of farther is never an error”

      • Jeff

        May 24, 2015 at 3:41 pm

        Nothing wrong with the use of further in this instance. It would be better to completely learn the language you are attempting to correct than learn a few rules and and replacements. Yeah, I before e, most of the time, not always. Read books, not Internet forum replys. Stop being pedantic, it’s unoriginal. You’re just mad cause dude stripes his 2 wood and you think you should dribble your driver further/farther, see, doesn’t matter. It can’t always be your way.

  20. Jonny B

    May 19, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    For me it is dictated by the hole. I tend to hit a fade with my driver, and a draw with my 3 wood. I average about 265 with driver and 245 with the 3 wood. I like to hit driver but if the hole doglegs left or runs out of fairway I am going with 3 wood. I’m equally accurate with both and usually hit about 50% of fairways.

  21. I

    May 19, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I do not give up much yardage at all if any. For some reason both my 13.5* 3-wood and driver travel around 270ish (may be a swing flaw in my driver)……instead I use it for the shot shape needed, driver to fade and 3 wood to draw. Henrik Stenson inspired me to use 3-wood a ton off the tee, for me 3-wood and driver are equal as accurate, I just prefer the flight of the 3-wood more

  22. Andy muir

    May 19, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I played all last season with only 3 wood in bag, never lost much distance but kept ball in play on fairway all the time. Gave me the confidence to buy new driver this season after working on my swing with the 3 wood.

  23. Joel

    May 19, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I use 3-wood on many holes of my 7,400 yard home course. It’s for a few different reasons.
    1. The fattest part of the fairway is my three wood. Why should I hit driver if both clubs give me a wedge in and the driver would fly to a skinnier part of the fairway?
    2. I can control my distance and spin the ball better on a 3/4 or full wedge than a 60 yard pitch.
    3. On a very narrow hole where I have to hit the fairway because…
    4. I do hit my 3-wood straighter
    Having said that. Where trouble is, distance and direction is the primary reason to pick my tee shot club followed by the rules above.

  24. Mandark

    May 19, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Only 68? What a horrible dilemma.

    • Desmond

      May 20, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      It was for 14 holes according to the writer — no par 3’s.

  25. rer4136

    May 19, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Somewhat baffled. You shot 68 and 69 and say you struggle off the tee?

    • Bryan P

      May 19, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      that was probably the scores from the non-par 3 holes… so add about 12 if there was 2 a side and its 80-81. I think he said the comparison was on the non-par 3 homes so I would assume that is what the scores were from. I could be wrong though.

    • Tom HIll

      May 19, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      no, no, no I wish – for the 14 test holes – the par 4s and par 5s, I shot 68 and 69 – for the round it was an 82 and an 83

  26. F M shouse

    May 19, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Hit 1 iron off tee one of the new driving irons from calls way or taylormade or old one like vft. Practice long irons for into greens either run up or high shots. Focus on wedges and putting. Move up to white tees have s beer and enjoy. Use driver only to show playing partner that you can blast it into next county if you want too.

    • Philip

      May 19, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      If I cannot get my woods under control I will go all irons by the fall. My irons 4 – PW have been saving my bacon whenever my woods get me into trouble.

  27. Nate

    May 19, 2015 at 11:43 am

    My driver tee ball is usually a high baby fade that carries about 270 and rolls to about 295. Sometimes I can really get a hold of one and hit it about 320. When I miss, it is always way right. My 3 wood carries about 250 and usually has a low boring trajectory which leads to about 20-30 yds of roll. My miss is a pull left. I like to lay back off the tee and go with 3 wood when there is trouble right. I am not any more accurate with my 3 wood than my driver so if I need to hit a fairway, I will got with a 3 iron that I can hit about 230-235 when struck well. I am really lucky because I can hit my irons really high, so hitting a low to mid iron into the green isn’t usually an issue.

  28. Tony

    May 19, 2015 at 11:25 am

    I haven’t carried a driver for roughly 3 years. I’m not a stellar golfer, basically a straight bogey guy, but my #1 problem has always been getting off the box in one piece.

    My 3 wood (2008 Cleveland Launcher) is my spirit animal. When it’s on I hit it like a dream. Despite my handicap, I’m a long hitter (being 6’4 helps), so not having a driver doesn’t really hurt me terribly much. For some reason, the larger clubhead triggers something in my brain and makes me incapable of hitting it.

    I guess it really depends on the player at the end of the day. I have friends who score worse than me but their driver is the only club they hit consistently well. I’m the opposite.

  29. Leon

    May 19, 2015 at 11:24 am

    I got an easy solution: cut your driver shaft to 43″ instead of its current 45″-46″. Change to a lighter grip or add some weights on the head to bring the swing weight back to your preference. Now you have a big stick with the same length of a 3 wood but offers lower loft, tons of more forgiveness, higher COR (titanium face vs steel face) = longer distance, and what else? Confidence!

    Unless you can manage the 3 wood to reach the par 5 in 2, otherwise, replace it with an additional wedge or something that helps your short game.

  30. TR1PTIK

    May 19, 2015 at 10:49 am

    There are certain holes on my local muni where I need to bench the driver unless I want to flirt with OB and I typically hit my 3-wood between 240-250 off the tee so it’s a good option for me on a lot of the short par 4’s in my area. I’ve also knocked my 21* hybrid as much as 235 off the turf and hit a 270+ tee shot with it yesterday (thanks to a 10mph tailwind). Needless to say, I’m not lacking for distance if I use something other than driver – I just really like to hit it because of the potential for even more yardage.

  31. Carlos Danger

    May 19, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Stopped carrying a 3 wood about a month ago for a number of reasons:
    1. Picked up a 19 SLDR and it goes really far. I can get it out there to 260 off the tee. Which at my home course (and pretty much any course) is plenty far.
    2. I play a fade with my driver and if I miss I miss soft right. Rarely miss left. I play a draw with all my other clubs and if I miss with a Fwy/hybrid it goes left. If I miss with a 3W it goes WAY left.
    3. I rarely hit a 3W from the fairway…and if I do I can count on my hand the successful shots I have hit with it. Why risk a bad shot to hit it 265-70 (3W) when I know I can hit a safe 240 shot with a hybrid?

    So… I took the 3w out and added a driving iron that gives me a nice 230ish low ball flight. Loving the setup so far. However…I LOVE 3 Woods so its really hard not to put one in the bag. I have 3 or 4 sweet 3w setups sitting here but hopefully I can stay strong and stick to the setup that is working for me.

    In closing, I would say that if you hit hybrids well, I would test out a lower lofted hybrid (16-17) and see what kind of results you get. If your finding the fariway more often…maybe thats ht move for you.

  32. B

    May 19, 2015 at 10:15 am

    If driver is going to leave me with more that 70 yards but less than 115 then I will opt for 3 wood. Would rather have a full pitching wedge than a partial lob or sand wedge into the green.
    If I want to hit a draw that flies high and stops quickly I will opt for 3 wood. If I feel that hitting a great drive on a par 5 will still leave me with a risky long iron or hybrid, then I will take 3 wood or the hybrid on the par 5 tee and take my 3rd from 130-160 yards.

    There are a few other special situations that would make me go in that direction but I cant think of them right now.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Plenty to be thankful for



golf course sand bunkers

This has always been my favorite week of the year, well, at least since I got old enough to understand that Christmas gifts do not just “appear” out of nowhere. I think that was about 60 years ago! This is the week of the year where, hopefully, we all take time to ponder the wonderful blessings of our lives.

No matter what 2022 might have brought you, I’m sure you can find at least a handful of blessings to be thankful for. My favorite holiday movie is a 1942 Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film called Holiday Inn. If you haven’t seen it and enjoy old movie musicals, you might make it a “must see” this season. Besides being the movie where the classic White Christmas was introduced, there is a wonderful song for Thanksgiving called Plenty To Be Thankful For. It’s also a favorite of mine.

As I ponder my own year and the 70 years before it, I realize I have so many wonderful things to be thankful for. That starts with my blessing of good health. I find it remarkable to be on the north side of 70 and still have no issues. No prescription drugs. Only one visit to the hospital in my life, the result of a motor scooter incident when I was 13. A fabulous Mom and Dad, small town upbringing. A lifetime of great friends and the blessing of living in a small town on the Texas coast. And most recently, the entry of a great lady into my life that makes it all so very much better.

I have the opportunity to run a fledgling custom wedge company, Edison Golf, which allows me to challenge the entire category with different thinking. And I love writing this column every week to share the many lessons learned and observations made in this 40-year career in the golf club industry.

There are just so many things I cannot list them all. But right there with them is the blessing of the strength and flexibility to still move the golf ball around pretty good. To be able to still play to a low single digit handicap from the regular tees (no ‘senior tees’ for me, thank you), and test courses from the back tees occasionally is fun.
That last blessing comes straight from God, of course, but I “help Him out” by making stretching and fitness a part of my daily regimen for over 30 years. And that is something anyone can do to improve their golf scores.

As we all face the “off season” (even here in South Texas it gets cold and rainy occasionally), you can make the decision to have lower golf scores to be thankful for this time next year. Just because you are cooped up inside for the next few months doesn’t mean you have to forego golf and preparation for next year can begin right now.
I believe flexibility is more crucial to stronger shots and lower scores than strength. A simple internet search can turn up dozens of good guides to stretching for a longer, fuller and stronger golf swing. If you add a bit of endurance and strength training to that, it’s amazing what will happen to your golf fortunes. Nothing more complex than a daily walk and swinging a weighted club daily or several times a week will pay off big dividends when you can get out on a winter golf vacation or next season starts.

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving, and I look forward to another year of being able to share my lessons from a lifetime in golf and over 40 years in the golf equipment industry. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 Fortinet Australian PGA Championship: Betting Tips & Selections



Is Cam Smith in Oz the Jon Rahm of the Spanish Open?

The recent, dominating T2/winner of the DP World Tour Championship went off at around 9/4 to beat Tommy Fleetwood, Min Woo Lee and company in Madrid in October, eventually sauntering home by six shots and delighting home fans supporting his third win at his home Open.

This week, Smith looks like going off at much bigger (at 7/2) to beat a slightly fuller depth of field, again including Min Woo, to win his third Australian PGA, after going back-to-back in 2017 and 2018.

There is little left to say about the winner of the 150th Open Championship in terms of class, summarised by the run of T2/T10/T3 at the three most recent Masters, as well as wins at the Sony Open, Tournament of Champions and The Players.

Of course, his career year has also been hot with controversy, denying a move to LIV and then vehemently defending his right to join the Greg Norman-led tour a couple of weeks later, but that’s not our concern as bettors. Indeed, look at the way his presence has been received back home.

Smith’s local Brisbane Times reports that the 29-year-old superstar was the first golfer to be awarded the ‘keys to the city’ and will also probably get his desire of a LIV event in Queensland.

He’s huge news back home, and if we are looking back at that Rahm comparison, looks pretty big at over 3/1.

Smith, though, is a grinder, no matter how good of one, and whilst wins have come in decent numbers under par, he tends to win when the short game simply outlasts everyone else in tough conditions. I’m not certain he gets that here, where the winning score was 22-under last time (in January 2022), and examining his impressive victories, it’s worth noting that none of his six PGA Tour victories have been by more than a single shot, with his second Oz PGA by just a stroke further.

You can count the LIV victory as better than I do if you like. No complaints on that score, but following that win he’s gone 42nd and 22nd on LIV – beaten by a lot less a player than he faces this week.

The filthy each-way doubles look certain to be popular, with Smith across the card from Joburg fancies Bezhuidenhout and Lawrence, but in a light betting heat, I’ll take a chance with just a couple of wagers.

Just one outright for me this week.

Golf form site,  rates Ryan Fox the number one this week, a short-head over Smith, and whilst he isn’t quite that elite class, his form shows he is plenty good enough to beat the favourite on his day, and hasn’t that much to find in comparison to Adam Scott, MIn Woo and Cam Davis, all of whom are rightfully respected and popular.

Fox is easy to precis.

In what has been a stellar season for the always-promising Kiwi, the 35-year-old has improved from around 200th in the world rankings at gthe start of ’22, to a current ranking well inside the world’s top-30, and certain of invites to all the most desired events.

Fox waltzed home by five shots in the desert at Ras Al Khaimah and won again by a stroke at the Dunhill Links, an event including tournament stalwarts Rory McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood. In between, Fox posted eight top-10 finishes including running-up in Belgium, at the Dutch Open, Irish Open and, just a couple of weeks ago, by a shot to Fleetwood and one of the latter’s favourite courses, the Gary Player GC.

Fox went into last week’s DP championship as a live contender for the title, which, given his commitment to the European Tour, would have been richly deserved. Perhaps that’s too political for here, though.

Either way, despite starting slowly in Dubai, he made his way up to 19th after four steadily improving rounds, enough to hold off Rahm from swapping places at the end-of-year rankings.

The silver medal is the least Fox should have got, and with a strong game on the sand-belt and a significant win in Queensland at the QLD PGA in 2018, challenging here should be a formality.

Fox has always had a strong driving game, and finding greens has rarely been an issue. However, he’s now gone from being one of the worst with the flat stick to ranking in the top-10 for putting average at even the toughest of courses.

I have the selection at the same price as Min Woo, who may have needed the run-out when a beaten 6/1 favourite here 11 months ago, so that 14/1 is simply too big to resist, especially as the latter has not won since July last year.

Fox can continue a big year for the Kiwis following Lydia Ko’s brilliant victory and subsequent crowning as this season’s LPGA queen.

The only other wager that appeals as a value pick is defending champion Jediah Morgan over Marc Leishman in a match bet.

Leish is a bit of a hero of mine, but it may sadly be time to give up on him as a serious potential winner in this class.

After a lucrative career, the 39-year-old came off a Covid slump to once again show up at Augusta over the last couple of years, but this has been a poor year.

There have been highlights – top-15 at the U.S Open, maybe – but he played poorly at River Highlands, in an event at which he historically does very well, and followed that with missed cuts at the Scottish Open and Open Championships, and midfield, don’t-write-home-about-it efforts at the first two FedEX play-off events.

Leishman is now at LIV, doing nicely ‘thank you’ and collecting $3 million for doing nothing much. In fact, his individual results gained him less ‘sole’ money than Pat Perez, another who caught onto the coat-tails of his teammates.

Respect to him, but Leishman isn’t going forwards these days, and will need the weather to turn bad if he is going to be able to live with some of these birdie machines.

Count Jediah Morgan as one of those birdie machines.

Although he produced a 100-1 shock in January when winning this event in just his fourth event as a professional, Morgan did it in some style.

The 22-year-old recorded three rounds of 65/63/65 to take a nine shot lead into Sunday, and simply went further clear, crossing the line 11 shots clear of Andrew Dodt, himself with plenty of previous in this grade at home, and a further shot clear of Min Woo.

In 2020 Morgan had won the Australian Amateur around this course, beating Tom McKibbin (see Joburg preview for his chances over there) by 5 & 3, an event that has thrown up Cam Smith amongst other multiple international winners, and whilst he hasn’t shown his best lately, returning to a venue he knows so well should be to his big advantage.

Morgan was one of the surprise signings to LIV Golf, although, as he admits, he “didn’t have much in my schedule,” given his exemption to the DP World Tour didn’t kick in till the 2023 season, plus it gave him the chance to compete at Centurion Club for LIV London – “The field is nice and strong so it’s a cool format to see how I shape up.”

Morgan has played every event since, although mixing it up with sporadic entries and invites onto the PGA, DP and Asian tours do not help a young golfer settle.

His Dunhill Links effort wasn’t bad – a 76 on that horrendous day two the cause of his eventual missed cut – but 25th and 13th at the last two events are as good as Leishman produced at the same events.

Leish has the back-form and the class but looks on the way down, and while the attention of being defending champ could overawe the younger man, he has put up with ‘Golf, but louder’ for a few months now.

I have these much closer than the prices suggest, so take the 8/5 in a match.

Recommended Bets:

  • Ryan Fox 14/1 Each -Way
  • Jediah Morgan to beat Marc Leishman -72 holes – 8/5 
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Opinion & Analysis

TourPutt – The secret of the pros?



Driver vs. Putter: Your Choice?

If you were granted one golf-related superpower, which would you choose? The ability to hit 300-yard drives straight down the fairway all the time, or never 3-putt again?

Bobby Locke, one of the greatest putters in the game, said to ‘drive for show, but putt for dough’ And when you consider that the putter is the most used club in the bag, it seems like a no-brainer. But then again, according to Mark Brodie and his ‘strokes gained’ method, a long, straight driver may be more important to saving strokes. So what would you choose?

For me, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with the putting skills as I am currently suffering from the worst case of yips I’ve ever experienced in over 30 years. Sure, it’d be nice to outdrive the guys in my regular foursome, but I don’t think I can live down the shame of missing inside of 3ft all day, every day. And with no genie in site, I have searched high and low for that perfect putter that can cure my woes.

After trying nearly 50 putters over the past two years and enduring numerous snide remarks to get putting lessons instead, I finally gave in. I bit the bullet and sought professional help from Jong-hwan Choi, Korea’s number one putting coach to the pros.

Choi’s resume includes LynnBlake Master Instructor certification, AimPoint LV3, PuttDoctor, MichaelHebron Neuro Learning for Golf, and many others.

Choi is an accomplished Tour putting coach who has made a name for himself through relentless research and dedication to master his chosen craft. Thus far, the pros and elite amateurs he helped have won a total of 350 tournaments, including KPGA, KLPGA, and LPGA wins. He is so popular that it can take up to a year to book a lesson with the man himself, but I was desperate. After pulling all the strings I can muster, I was able to get an interview with him in the hopes of getting some help
with my flat stick.

When the day finally came, I arrived at Choi’s academy armed with 3 of my current best-performing putters. I was eager to glean the secrets of the pros and to find out which of these best fit my stroke. I was greeted by Choi and briefly shown around the spacious academy, which had a large flat putting surface and some basic training aids that are common online. Upon chatting about Choi’s background and teaching philosophy, he reminded me of the motivational speaker Tony Robbins. He was constantly emphasizing positivity and proactive learning reinforced with hard work and dedication towards self-growth – that skills are built, not born. Sure, I get that.

But surely, preaching alone doesn’t improve (my) putting?

TourPutt: The Secret of the Pros?

When Choi offered (after some subtle arm twisting) to look at my putting, I was puzzled when he pulled out a tablet rather than some kind of putting trainer. I figured maybe he was going to film me first, then point out some flaws on the monitor. Nope.

We were going high-tech for this one. We were joined by his friend and business partner Chan-ki Kim, a software engineer who co-developed TourPutt, a state-of-the-art putting training system.

According to the dynamic duo, TourPutt was developed to accurately assess a player’s putting tendencies, habits, and skills utilizing big data and A.I. Rather than second-guessing and trying to identify the faults, Tour Putt acts like an MRI machine that shows the doctor where to problem lies. Once the diagnosis is made, Choi would bring to bear his extensive experiences to cure the ailing putter. Sounded simple to me. But how would it know what my problem was?

As Choi’s fingers danced over the tablet in his hand, the TourPutt sprang into action and a small circle the size of a hole-cup appeared on the artificial putting surface. As I surveyed the circle of light beamed from a ceiling projector, Choi asked me a question I hadn’t considered before. ‘Which breaks are you most comfortable with on short putts? What are the odds that you make them?’ Taking my blank look as his cue, Choi proceeded to explain the process of mapping my putting pattern to gauge my stren gths and weaknesses.

To begin, I was directed to putt a golf ball into a hole from 36 random locations ranging from 3 to 6 ft. A ball tracking camera with two projectors mounted on the ceiling rendered various crisp, clear images onto the putting surface. Prior to start, I was informed that the putting surface was sloped 3% from top to bottom. So if you were to imagine a clock face, the 12 o’clock location would be a 3° downhill straight putt, while 6 o’clock would be a 3° uphill straight putt.

As I am right-handed, all putts from the left side of the 3 o’clock would be a hook like, and the left side a slice lie, all to varying degrees. When I asked why it was fixed at 3%, Kim explained that tour regulation greens don’t allow for more than a 3 degree slope within 6ft of the hole. Also, most amateur golfers had a difficult time detecting such a small amount of slope, and thereby misjudge the breaks to a higher score.

Knowing Where to Tap

After the pattern test began, it took me a little over 20 minutes to complete a total of 36 putts at random locations. I was quite conscious of the many eyes on my performance and equally frustrated at how often I was missing putts despite my best efforts. After I was done, Choi pulled up my results, or key performing index (KPI), on a large screen TV where I was able to see exactly where I was effective in my short putts. In brief, I had a tough time with both hook and slice lie putts. I showed slightly better results with uphill straight and slice putts, but absolutely nothing to write home about.

Now, I’m sure many of you are familiar with the story of the plumber who was called to fix a steam pipe. After looking around the pipes and tapping a couple of valves, he charged $200 for his services. When the irate customer demanded to know why it cost so much and asked for a detailed breakdown of the services, the plumber replied, ‘$10 for tapping, $190 for knowing precisely where to tap.’

As such, my results from the pattern test were eye-opening. I’ve never known what lie I was more effective at, much less the percentage of probable success. For example, the more often I use TourPutt to practice or diagnose my putting, the more accurately it can diagnose my skills. Thus, I can pinpoint which area to improve through practice, as well as try to get the ball to an area I am more likely to save par.

Wow. This was tour pro stuff. Was this the secret of the pros?

The green area indicates a successful putt and the red is where I missed. The numbers show how long it took me to strike the putt after being instructed by a bell sound.

I was starting to get heady with the possibilities this digital marvel was able to provide. It took both of them to bring me down to earth again by informing me that knowing the areas of improvement is only half the battle.

For the actual tapping part, Choi and Kim then walked me through the many innovative features of TourPutt focused on helping me improve my putting. I was mesmerized by the detailed graphics that flashed all over the putting surface.

I was already impressed with the diagnostic aspects of TourPutt, but upon seeing the actual features to help me improve my putting, I was doubly blown away. From reading the green speed and breaks accurately to effective swing tempo and motion tracking, the system seemed straight out of the future.

Putting from variations of the 3% slope helps golfers to get a better feel the greens, a skill that can translate onto reading the breaks on actual greens.

Before TourPutt came into being, Choi was frustrated with the difficulty in collecting crucial data from an actual green as it was difficult to find a flat area to map his student’s patterns. When he discussed the matter with Kim back in 2019, Kim immediately became interested in ways to mesh modern technology and A.I. driven data to the art of putting. As an elite level golfer with extensive knowledge in the fields of VR and AR (virtual and augmented reality), Kim understood right away the issues faced by Choi and how he could help.

Delving deep into Choi’s experience and insights, Kim designed the TourPutt’s interface to yield accurate and reliable data that can be cross-checked, correlated, and compared across past and future performances. Best of all, TourPutt and its proprietary app feature the ability to keep track of all of my performance from any TourPutt system and access the data anywhere at any time. I could even replay all of my past putts and see the speed and the path it took, and compare them with other golfer’s data in the system. Mind. Blown.

Kim further explained that this feature of collecting real-world significant big data is one of the biggest advantages of TourPutt, and enables it to evolve further with every putt stored in its vast database.

The app can be used in both English and Korean, and can keep track of my performance and improvements.

The Student Becomes The Teacher

Once the flaws are identified, we moved on to the more traditional slow-motion video to see what I was doing wrong to miss the putts. For me, I kept too much weight on the back foot, and also needed more forward press to keep the putter head online through impact.

After several minutes of drill to correct the issues, I was holing the putts much better. The data from the second pattern test confirmed the improvement, and I was also shown the actual paths that my two putts took before and after the fix. All in all, being able to verify that the diagnosis was correct with immediate results, all backed by data was highly reassuring and enlightening. But what if these improvements were short-lived? That as soon as I walk out of Choi's presence, the magic evaporates and my crappy putting returns? I can’t tell you how often a club I thought was the answer to my prayers devolved into an ordinary stick as soon as I paid for it. It’s downright uncanny how often this happens.

To this end, Choi gave me a glimpse of hope. He assured me that since I was investing time into my skills and not money into more equipment, it will definitely last longer. Also, the coaching provided by Choi is reflected in each and every putt I had made since the lesson and recorded as part of my putting profile. So if I were to stray from the ‘good’ putts, the system can be used to bring me back on track. And if this cycle of improvement continues, I would be able to be my own teacher and
eventually practice effectively and independently on my own.

Honestly, I don’t know about this part. After all, I too know that the right diet and exercise will give me a six-pack; but knowing and doing it are two separate things. In the end, how effective any tool can depend on how well I make use of it, so it will have to remain to be seen. What I can say with certainty, however, is that TourPutt seems to work for a lot of people. Choi’s students continue to post wins on various tours with regularity, each crediting him with their improved putting performance. In turn, Choi credits his partner Kim and TourPutt’s growing database for accurate diagnosis and self-learning.

ToutPutt and its built-in sensors are capable of sensing where the lies have changed. The self-learning A.I. system actively adjusts for the changes to the putting surface, thereby eliminating the need for recalibration.

In Korea, the art of putting has found its poster child in Choi, with more and more golf academies and private studios installing TourPutt for its members. Several local tour pros and top amateurs have also installed the not-so-cheap system in their homes and have said to benefit from the move. Remember when Tiger showed up one day at the range with his own Trackman? I would imagine having a TourPutt in your basement is something like that, but I can only guess. I don’t have a personal Trackman either.

Choi attends seminars all over the world each year to continue his improvement in putting instruction.He is currently working on compiling his own training and certification program to impart to a new generation of would-be putting gurus.

Now that I know where I need to improve on, does this mean I will be taking money off my foursome buddies with alarming regularity? Well, let me see. I signed up for pilates a few months ago and found out exactly where I need to work on for more flexibility. But as I still creak all over when bending over to tie my shoes, I’d guess my putting won’t miraculously improve right away neither. But hey, that’s on me. I’ll just have to start working on the tapping part. Anyone looking to buy some used putters?

For more information on TourPutt from the man himself, check out the video below.

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