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The Wedge Guy: Failure to amaze…

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Once again, I thank all of you for the feedback to last week’s post about the driver being the first scoring club. If everyone agreed with everything I write, this wouldn’t be nearly as fun and challenging as it is. So, keep up the feedback and challenges to my logic as we go forward, OK? I think I might push some of your buttons again today, so here goes.

I had one of those airline trips from hell last Monday, trying to get back from a visit to my nephew and his family in Boise. For the first time in my life, I saw our plane returned to the gate because our crew “timed out” while we were on the tarmac awaiting a delayed take-off. That led to a series of setbacks, which eventually put me back in Houston at 1:00 a.m., almost five hours later than scheduled…with a 2-1/2 hour drive still ahead of me.

Then, I woke up Tuesday morning with a head-cold-from-hell, which has had me in its grip ever since. That put me on the sofa watching more TV than I would on a typical weekend. And that allowed me to watch more of the Charles Schwab (Colonial) than I probably would have otherwise, along with some NBA and baseball.

Now, I’ll admit I have become a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to professional golf. Not that I’m bad-tempered or anything, but I am a bit cantankerous. The game’s evolution from identifying those who have achieved broad mastery of all shotmaking, to those who are the strongest physical specimens and have great short games has simply lost me. When I tune into any professional athletic event, I fully expect, and want to be, AMAZED.

The NBA always does that, with a consistent show of unbelievable athleticism and shotmaking. I’m sure basketball purists argue about the evolution of the game from Chamberlain and Russell, to Bird and Magic, to Michael, to Steph and LeBron…but throughout my 50-plus years of watching, these guys almost always put on an impressive show of skills. Same goes for the NFL. I am not a follower of major league baseball, and don’t know many players, but an hour in front of the TV will almost always entertain you with amazing fielding and hitting displays.

Forgive me for my cynicism, but I just don’t get that amazed by PGA Tour golf anymore. In my hours of time in front of the TV, there were just too few instances of shotmaking prowess that made me go “wow.” One stat on Saturday showed that Jordan Spieth had made something like four hundred feet of putts in 2-1/2 rounds. Heck yeah, that’s impressive…but hardly riveting television. What I was looking for were pinpoint irons shots that set up birdies and a serious challenge to whoever was in the lead.

Congratulations are certainly due to Kevin Na for holding off everyone, but who really put a charge on to challenge him? Time and again, players looked like they might gain some ground, only to be derailed by poor driving and iron play. Maybe not “poor” by our amateur standards, but I’m not sure I saw more than one or two irons shots that just tore the flag down. What I did seem to see were lots of drives in the rough, short iron and wedge shots long, short or wide of the greens, and plenty of greenside recovery shots, too often followed by par attempts from well outside 6-8 feet.

Lee Trevino once said that there are two things that don’t last long – “dogs that chase cars and pros that putt for pars.” The point I believe he was making at the time was that he saw professional golf as a game of precision shotmaking, and that meant driving it in the fairway and hitting greens. And by my observation, the stars of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s were pretty darn good at that kind of golf.

Ben Hogan was noted for hitting fairways and greens with commanding precision. Byron Nelson was so straight they named the first swing robot after him. Gene Littler was known as “Gene the Machine”. Johnny Miller set the bar tremendously high for knocking flags down, from nearly any range. Bear in mind his 63 at Oakmont to win the U.S. Open in 1966 was the result of hitting nearly every green, though 14 of this approach shots were hit with a 5-iron or longer. Pretty amazing stuff even if it weren’t a U.S. Open layout, wouldn’t you say?

Before you all want me tarred and feathered for lack of respect for the modern tour professional, let me say that these guys at the top have done what it takes to achieve modern greatness. The talent pool is very deep these days, as evidenced by the huge number of different winners every year. But other than Tiger, who has attained – and maintained – a constantly high level of performance from week-to-week, year-to-year for any length of time over the past twenty years or so? And in reality, do yesterday’s stars become today’s also-rans because others have passed them, or because they lost whatever it was they had found for that fleeting period of time?

In any era, in any sport, the singular challenge is to achieve a higher level of skill than the next guy (or team). On any given day or week, golf’s top players do that, but to me it just doesn’t make for riveting viewing any longer.

I accept that professional golf has changed dramatically in my lifetime, and that it will never again be what it once was. So, I’ll keep watching, hoping to be amazed…After all, we have the U.S. Open and The Open Championship still to come.

P.S. Next week, I promise to return to topics that will hopefully help you improve your golf this season. If you have any topics you would like to see me address, please drop me an email at [email protected].

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, or his leadership of the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2014. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to slightly raise the CG and improve wedge performance. He has just announced the formation of Edison Golf Company and the new Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf, which can be seen at www.EdisonWedges.com. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010.

46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. John Erickson

    Jun 3, 2019 at 12:47 am

    Terry, I could not agree more. As a former tour player who dedicated a life to golf, I don’t even watch the game anymore. I have zero interest in the decline of the game, the courses, the giant frying pan drivers, wide fairways, huge perfect greens, little penalty for errant driving. Golf is a total bore to me. When I played on tour, you had to drive it in the fairway just as Hogan said.. “it’s the most important shot to set up the hole”. We had to place the ball on the green and below the hole, and often the greens were far from perfect. Less than perfect greens made golf more of a ball strikers game. With perfect greens, the great putters can run the table. I liked it when the greens were not so perfect because it took that advantage out of the lights out putters. They would still make more but not as many. Moe Norman told me once that anyone could make a 30 foot putt…. even a beginner, but it took great still to hit a 1 iron 30 feet from the hole. This new version of golf is a different as baseball is to softball. The game needs a persimmon and balata reset. Simple really.

  2. scooter

    May 30, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Having attended the Colonial this past weekend, I was again reminded how much more amazing the game is in person as opposed to watching it on TV. I agree, TV concentrates too much on putts and doesn’t show enough of the field. In person, you can see the green slopes and realize how small the targets are to get the ball close and score on some greens with tucked pins. And you’re able to watch short game techniques that are really amazing when they’ve short-sided themselves in long rough or bunkers … by not covering the field you don’t see the “fails” at some of these difficult shots and realize just how small the margin for error is. Same goes for trouble shots when the drives go astray. And it’s great to see all the tee shot variations at Colonial’s tight hole #5 with out of bounds on both sides, all the way from tee to green. Bottom line, MUCH more interesting in person and kind of boring on TV.

  3. KW

    May 30, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Some good points on both sides, but I think much of the “lack of amazement” is not realizing just how hard and precise this game is. 1/8″ off a 100mph clubface can be mediocre to disastrous. We play our casual rounds and hit that approach shot from 120yds to 20′ and are disappointed. Yet the average pro approach shot is 22′ and the very best in the world probably average 11′–just saying, the game is really hard!

  4. greg mcneill

    May 30, 2019 at 10:46 am

    I admit I quit reading when you wrote that Miller won the US Open in 1966. That was probably the most famous final round in US Open history and you can’t get the year right? (It was 1973, btw. Casper beat Palmer in ’66 when Arnie blew a 7 shot lead in the last 9 holes).

  5. Championship

    May 30, 2019 at 5:16 am

    Do you get “amazed” by a Friday night regular season Knicks vs Cavs 30-pt blowout win? That is the equivalent of what the Colonial was. Not every tournament is going to be A+, but doesn’t make sense to make blanket statements like that.

    Also, you are celebrating the raw athletic talent you see in the NBA, but then saying the same thing makes golf boring with the longer hitters? The game has changed, but there is still PLENTY more than long drives out there, which is why the world long drivers aren’t the same guys on the Tour.

    Did golf not just bring us what is widely considered to be one of the greatest moments in sports history about a month ago at The Masters? Pretty amazing to me

  6. Sahil

    May 30, 2019 at 3:09 am

    There are guys in my club who have the ability to make shots from almost anywhere. These guys have lost their ability to hit the ball far. They use golf clubs that are yonkers old. They have genuine golf skills that could challenge any pro’s approach shot. They are shot makers. We obsessed with distance and this philosophy of “distance is king” has been hammered home by the golf club industry obviously to make more money which is fair in a lot of ways but at the same time golfers need to make that choice. I’d like to see a pro tournament where drivers and 3 woods are disallowed, to genuinely see who’s the best golfer. Grip it and rip it, is way too taxing on the body, ask Tiger, Jason Day, Rory. If every pro golfer is almost always making 40-50ft putts , it does make the game boring and also gives us amateurs an unrealistic view on how golf is played. Adapting to different course. playing parkland one week and a links the next. Then we have professional golfers actually complaining about the difficulty of a course, they actually say the course is too difficult. really!!!! pros practice 8 hours a day, this is their job. It’s amazing what babies they are. So I definitely agree, true skills and shot-making on approach shots and around the green is a skill that needs to be brought back. Having a birdie putt from 40-50ft is the norm, then emphasis falls onto putting and then putters and then the industry coming out with new putters, its a viscous cycle. Golf at heart is about loving the game. Spending time on the course and testing your skills.

  7. Donn

    May 30, 2019 at 2:29 am

    1. TV coverage is pretty bad. Too much time is of the anchors yakk yakk, not enough of the whole field making full swing shots. And Yes, too much TV is just the putt. In the Masters, if I am home watching, I would like them to broadcast at least 40 or 50 of the tee shots from the 1st tee, more tee shots all over the course, even guys in the middle of the pack.

    2. Is it just me, or do we see way too many mid and long putts fall way too short? I keep reading that 0 % of puts that are too short will ever go in, right?

    3. At Colonial, last 2 rounds, I saw Finau swing a lot. Yikes. His swing is far from textbook, but I didn’t hear any comments. Is Furyk’s swing the only one where it is ok to call it weird?

    4. I think it is time to redesign some courses to add more risks or actual dead zones at 300 yards. More doglegs, or severe narrowing of the fairway from say 300 to 330 yards, to force more of the big hitters to play the locations like courses presented to the pros 40 years ago. When most of the par 4s are wedges to the green, it is monotonous as Koepka said.

  8. Terence Gillmore

    May 29, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Trevino said that what can’t last is “chipping for pars” not “putting for pars”

  9. Dave r

    May 29, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    Watching LPGA golf us older types can relate better. The smash boys really not worth watching anymore . It’s the same old thing hit it as far as you can find it and repeat . I watched the college golf and they are hitting 6 and 7 irons 210 yards was wondering what the wedge guy thinks are 6 irons really 6 irons or are they 6 irons with a 4-5 iron lofts. Would agree watching golf on tv is like watching paint dry.

  10. Geoffrey Holland

    May 29, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    What a garbage article.

  11. Darrin Lygrisse

    May 29, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    You know what fails to amaze me these days? Sports writing.

    There used to be an old adage in journalism, “the smaller the ball the better the writing” Now it pretty much just all sucks. Professional writing is dead for the most part, I used to love getting my Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golf Illustrated, my Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, and reading all the great articles, cover to cover. Now the only thing I subscribe to is this GolfWRX email newsletter, which when I try to open, tries to get me to subscribe every single damn time, even though I have been since 2006.

    It would be nice to see some real professionals on the beat again.

  12. Steve

    May 29, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Isn’t that the beauty of the PGA, though? ANYONE’s first tee shot on Thursday could lead to a win, and not because some team has a higher salary cap or lets their star player build a super team around him.

  13. Vas

    May 29, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    I almost totally agree, but would have presented it differently. Golf now is basically the same as tennis. Success is all about physicality and hitting the ball as hard as you can. The equipment makes it that way. There was no incentive to looking like a linebacker in 1985 because you would spin the ball off the planet and not break 80. It’s totally okay to prefer serve-and-volley tennis instead of the grunt-fest from the baseline. It’s equally okay to prefer pre-90s skill-emphasized golf instead of guys swinging for the fences with the driver. What’s not okay is to place ANY blame or insult on ANY player. They’re all businessmen. They’re doing what works. If my kids really take to the game, I’m going have them swing as fast as they can and figure out the rest later.

  14. Daniel

    May 29, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Maybe the problem with not being amazed with pro golf anymore has to do with the tv coverage. When I watch now it seems like all I see are putts. They show all the leaders shots, especially on Sunday in a major when it’s a big name, but not everybody else.

    I like the shot tracers and wish there was more of that. It’s good to see the trajectory of the ball, and not just a close up shot of it flying in the air with nothing but sky around.

  15. JK

    May 29, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Dustin Johnson has won every year for 12 seasons, something only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have done.

    Phil Mickelson, who is nearing 50, won already this year and is consistently in the top 25 of tournaments in which he plays.

    What are these dumb claims that no one has maintained performance over the years? Did you not see a guy win back-to-back US Opens followed closely by back-to-back PGA championships?

    Did you forget about just a few years ago when Phil Mickelson was in the final group of the Open Championship, shot 65, and didn’t win?

    Did you miss when someone shot 62 in a major?

    Terrible article

    • Pelling

      May 29, 2019 at 5:43 pm

      Did you not forget Phil chasing after a putt he hit at Shinnecock and slapping the ball while it was moving?

  16. DavidRB

    May 29, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with Terry. Golf has become boring. Don’t take me wrong, the boring part is because “these guys are good”, precise and boring. I do think the huge purses have caused some to play for the money and not the trophy. Kevin Na played the way one needs to to master Colonial. If you have never been there, try it if you can. It takes precise boring golf to win there.

    Keep it up Terry. The bomb and gouge style of play deserves more accurate wedge play. What I saw last week, the players couln’t get the ball hole-high from 125 or less.

  17. Grumpy Old Man

    May 29, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    “You kids get off my lawn!” – Terry Koehler

    • Shallowface

      May 30, 2019 at 8:06 am

      Beyond Beyond Beyond played.

    • Shallowface

      May 31, 2019 at 1:19 pm

      That is so far beyond played you should be ashamed of yourself.

  18. The dude

    May 29, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    “Dogs that chase cars….and Ben Hogan equipment”

  19. PSG

    May 29, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    The Tour used to be much less top-heavy in terms of prize support. Virtually all the increase in prize money has gone to the top 5 spots. There used to be a 12% gap between number 5 and number 10. Now its about 170%.

    The “best players” used to be guys who would shoot 70 every day. Now you are much better off shooting 65 four straight days and shoot over 80 the rest of the year. That’s why you see the decisions you do – players fire at pins because winning the tournament is much higher rewarded than making the cut.

    You can like it or not like it but to act as if these players are less skilled is asinine. They’re not less skilled, that’s absurd. They are trying to win. In the days you reference the prize money was in being in the top 25 every week. Now it is in winning once a year. Because of this they’re not shooting middle of the green.

    Do you honestly think the players of today woke up and decided to be worse and dumber?! Of course not. They are incentivized to take risks, and they do.

  20. Cody

    May 29, 2019 at 9:44 am

    I would take the current top ten golfers vs. any top ten golfers of any time period.

    • Murv

      May 29, 2019 at 7:26 pm

      Today’s players against 60’s and 70’s players using 60’s equipment and balls. I’ll take the old guys.
      Jason Day said it best. Back in the day they curved the ball around the hazards because they had to. Today they just hit it high, straight over the hazards.

  21. carl spackler

    May 29, 2019 at 9:38 am

    its really too bad we dont have better shot data from the old days. i would love to see the strokes gained stats for the best players from the 60s through the 90s

    i would bet the ball striking was a bit better in the old days, but not as much as people like to think. todays greens are harder, faster and the ball spins less which makes it harder to hold shots on the green

  22. Glass half full

    May 29, 2019 at 7:02 am

    I like watching sports on tv because these athletes can perform at a level I cannot. Colonial isn’t a big tournament in the calendar but still, Kevin Na was impressive. Even if I could the ball as far and straight as a PGA Tour pro, I know that hardly anyone can qualify because….it’s damn hard. I’m not a fan of cynical articles like these, your rant seems petty. These guys ( women ) are very talented.

  23. Shallowface

    May 29, 2019 at 3:26 am

    What I find interesting is how many tour pros say they never watch golf on television. Imagine if we all get up one morning and decide we’re not going to watch anymore. The only reason pro golf exists is because someone wants to watch it. Terry is right. There’s nothing really interesting going on there anymore. The 210 yard 2 iron second into a Par 4. Now that was some good television.

    • golfrank

      May 29, 2019 at 5:56 pm

      Maybe it’s less interesting today because the 210-yard 2-iron has been replaced by a 210-yard 7-iron.

      • Shallowface

        May 30, 2019 at 8:04 am

        Yep, which is entirely due to a ball that doesn’t spin as it used to. Athleticism has NOTHING to do with it.

        It’s never going to happen, but if it were possible to legislate the old balata spin rates into the modern golf ball the game would become interesting to watch again. The ball wouldn’t go as far and more importantly it wouldn’t go as straight. It would be more affected by the wind. All of the challenges that made golf the game it was, but no longer is.

        But that sort of thing falls to the USGA, who only has the authority which it is granted by those who choose to play under its rules. If they were to do such a thing, the PGA Tour would simply say “we are going to play by our rules” and nothing would change.

        The USGA, as irrelevant as it has become, wouldn’t want to be driven into a state of total irrelevance. So they’ll continue to do nothing and like it.

        • Shallowface

          May 31, 2019 at 1:17 pm

          What we need is a ball on the order of the original Spalding Tour Edition, which was a two piece with a urethane cover that spun as much or more that a wound balata ball. That would Make Golf Great Again.

  24. Jack

    May 28, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    Terry is talking about pro golfers like they are a bunch of amateurs, constantly missing greens and trying to get up and down or worse. These guys are really good tee to green, and that includes the long irons. Kevin Na just put together 4 rounds that were 3 of them really good (1 course record). Often pro’s will get 1 record round and puke it up the next. he didn’t. That’s why he won by 4. Give some credit to the winners. Also it’s not like most tournaments are decided by 4 shots and Na is a consistent winner on tour (although he is a tour staple at this point). Na just caught fire and left the field behind.

    I think there’s some old timers bias here. Of course the top old pro’s were very good, but I doubt the middle tier guys were very good either. See? I just said that without any research or proof. The pro’s nowadays need to be very good with their long irons which they need to hit even further, so in many ways they are even more accurate than the guys had to be before. If they don’t score on par 5’s with their long clubs, they need to get hot on par 4’s which isn’t always easy with the par 4’s getting longer and longer. Even par 3’s are like 200 plus yards often. There have been plenty of memorable shots, most recently Koepka’s dominance and DJ almost making it up, and prior to that Tiger showing us some old school shot making.

    Yes the long hitters wedge in, but they are not all hitting it 320. The 290 guys are still hitting mid irons. And if the pro’s of the old days had to hit long irons into par 4’s all the time, they probably didn’t last on tour very long.

    Appreciate your wedge expert articles, but this wasn’t really your best work.

    • The dude

      May 28, 2019 at 11:01 pm

      This reply was too long….way too long

  25. R

    May 28, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    You’re crazy Terry. And really should quit talking or writing. For ever. You’re only making yourself sound a prat, and forget that this stuff stays on the web for ever. For ever. Realize that. It’s going to be readable for ever. It’s not like this stupid writing will be forgotten in some backwoods bookshop in the Middle Ages. Not any more. This is how you will be remembered

  26. Nick

    May 28, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Terry,
    Ironically, when I read your first article, I thought about the same things are happening in the MLB and NBA. Strikeouts, walks and home runs are at all time highs. You can argue whether that is good or bad.

    The NBA parallels golf even more because the mid-range shot has all but disappeared. Teams now pretty much just shoot 3s and layups or dunks. Thirty years ago, teams averaged 2.2 three point shots per game. This season, that number is up to 11.4. Again, you can argue whether that is good or bad, but it is happening.

    I love reading your stuff, but I think you are missing the mark here. Golf is but one sport following the same trend.

    • Daniel

      May 29, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      I agree 100% Nick.
      To me, golf is not better or worse than it once was, it’s just different.

    • Joseph Greenberg

      May 30, 2019 at 7:24 am

      right on (3) point. bigger picture problem for NBA and MLB is rapidly declining viewership, with baseball suffering major falloff in attendance. If all the fan sees is Ks and HRs, there is no action, particularly if watching on tv. Same to lesser degree with NBA, except my beloved Warriors when they move the ball and themselves around, play D, and run the break.
      The threat to golf is more severe, as aging target market loses relatability to massive young stars.

  27. NBB

    May 28, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    Perhaps via the use of tour data determine the yardage in which to begin progressively narrowing a fairway as it approaches the green and as the fairway narrows, the rough would become progessively more dense toward the green? Perhaps the progressiveness of faiway width and rough density would only slightly favor the longest hitters (given their propensity for missing the fairway at the great distances), but such would favor accuracy for all and enlarge the field of contenders. Perhaps, also, slow the greens down to ‘difficult’ rather than ‘aw, that ain’t right’?

  28. J

    May 28, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    You lost me when you said the NBA consistently amazes you. Regular season games are hard to watch for me. No one gives consistent effort the full game it seems like to me. Boring as hell for me. YMMV as usual

  29. Juststeve

    May 28, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Terry: You and I agree. I remember when hitting all the clubs, including long irons and fairway wood, was the mark of a great golfer. Now its just smash, pitch and putt. Not nearly as interesting. Perhaps I’ll watch more of the LPGA.

    • Bombers Golf Shop

      May 29, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      Besides, almost every damn amateur male golfer should take notes on how the LPGA players swing. They pick courses’ bones with a smooth, repeatable action. Pound for pound, they are the best.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What you CAN learn from tour pros

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I have frequently noted how the game the PGA Tour players play is, in most ways, a whole different game than we “mere mortal” recreational golfers play. They hit their drivers miles it seems. Their short games are borderline miraculous. And they get to play from perfect bunkers and putt on perfect greens every single week. And it lets them beat most courses into submission with scores of 20-plus under par.

The rest of us do not have their strength, of course, nor do we have the time to develop short game skills even close to theirs. And our greens are not the perfect surfaces they enjoy, nor do we have caddies, green-reading books, etc. So, we battle mightily to shoot our best scores, whether that be in the 70s, 90s, or higher.

There is no question that most PGA Tour players are high-level athletes, who train daily for both body strength and flexibility, as well as the specific skills to make a golf ball do what they intend it to. But even with all that, it is amazing how bad they can hit it sometimes and how mediocre (for them) the majority of their shots really are — or at least they were this week.

Watching the Wells Fargo event this weekend, you could really see how their games are – relatively speaking – very much like ours on a week-to-week basis.

What really stood out for me as I watched some of this event was so few shots that were awe-inspiring and so many that were really terrible. Rory even put his win in jeopardy with a horrible drive on the 18th, but a very smart decision and a functional recovery saved him. (The advantage of being able to muscle an 8-iron 195 yards out of deep rough and a tough lie is not to be slighted).

Of course, every one of these guys knocks the flag down with approach shots occasionally, if not frequently, but on a longer and tougher golf course, relative mediocrity was good enough to win.

If we can set these guys’ power differences aside, I think we all can learn from watching and seeing that even these players hit “big uglies” with amazing frequency. And that the “meat” of their tee-to-green games is keeping it in play when they face the occasional really tough golf course like Quail Hollow. Do you realize less than 20 of the best players in the world beat par for those 72 holes?

It has long been said that golf is a game of misses, and the player who “misses best” is likely to be “in the hunt” more often than not, and will win his or her share. That old idiom is as true for those of us trying to break 100 or 90 or 80 as it is for the guys trying to win on the PGA Tour each week.

Our “big numbers” happen for the same reasons as theirs do – a simply terrible shot or two at the wrong time. But because we do not have anywhere near their short game and recovery skills, we just do not “get away with” our big misses as frequently as they do.

So, what can you take away from that observation? I suggest this.

Play within your own reliable strength profile and skill set. Play for your average or typical shot, not your very best, whether that is a drive, approach shot, or short game recovery. And don’t expect a great shot to follow a bad one.
If, no, when you hit the “big miss,” accept that this hole can get away from you and turn into a double or worse, regroup, and stop the bleeding, so you can go on to the next hole.

We can be pretty darn sure Rory McIlroy was not thinking bogey on the 18th tee but changed his objective on the hole once he saw the lie his poor drive had found. It only took a bogey to secure his win, so that became a very acceptable outcome.

There’s a lesson for all of us in that.

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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: Horses for Courses – Rory McIlroy rides the Rors to another Quail Hollow win

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Tell me if you’ve heard this before: Rory McIlroy wins at Quail Hollow. The new father broke his winless streak at a familiar course on Mother’s Day. McIlroy has been pretty vocal about how he is able to feed off the crowd and plays his best golf with an audience. Last week provided a familiar setting in a venue he has won twice before and a strong crowd, giving McIlroy just what he needed to break through and win again. A phenomenal feat given that, not long ago, he seemed completely lost, chasing distance based on Bryson DeChambeau’s unorthodox-but-effective progress. McIlroy is typically a player who separates himself from the field as a premier driver of the golf ball, however this week it was his consistency across all areas that won the tournament.

Using the Strokes Gained Stacked view from V1 Game shows that Rory actually gained the most strokes for the week in putting. Not typically known as a phenomenal putter, something about those Quail Hollow greens speaks to McIlroy where he finished the week third in strokes gained: putting (red above). He also hit his irons fairly well, gaining more than 3.6 strokes for the week on a typical PGA Tour field. Probably the most surprising category for McIlroy was actually driving, where he gained just 1.3 strokes for the week and finished 18th in the field. While McIlroy is typically more accurate with the driver, in this case, he sprayed the ball. Strokes gained: driving takes into account distance, accuracy, and the lie into which you hit the ball. McIlroy’s driving distance was still elite, finishing second in the field and averaging more than 325 yards as measured . However, when he missed, he missed in bad spots. McIlroy drove into recovery situations multiple times, causing lay-ups and punch-outs. He also drove into several bunkers causing difficult mid-range bunker shots. So, while driving distance is a quick way to add strokes gained, you have to avoid poor lies to take advantage and, unfortunately, McIlroy hurt himself there. This was particularly apparent on the 72nd hole where he pull-hooked a 3-wood into the hazard and almost cost himself the tournament.

It’s rare that a player wins a tour event without a truly standout category, but McIlroy won this week by being proficient in each category with a consistent performance. From a strokes gained perspective, he leaned on his putting, but even then, he had four three-putts on the week and left some room for improvement. He gained strokes from most distances but struggled on the long ones and from 16-20 feet. Overall, we saw good progress for McIlroy to putt as well as he did on the week.

McIlroy also had a good week with his irons, routinely giving himself opportunities to convert birdies where he tied for seventh-most in the field. When he did miss with his irons, he tended to miss short from most distances. His proximity to the hole was quite good, averaging below 30 feet from most distance buckets. That is surely a recipe to win.

When you add it all up, McIlroy showed little weakness last week. He was proficient in each category and relied on solid decision-making and routine pars while others made mistakes on the weekend. Sometimes, there is no need to be flashy, even for the best in the world. It was good to see McIlroy rejoin the winner’s circle and hopefully pull himself out from what has been a bit of a slump. Golf is better when McIlroy is winning.

If you want to build a consistent game like Rors, V1 Game can help you understand your weaknesses and get started on a journey to better golf. Download in the app store for free today.

 

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Fujikura MC Putter shaft review and cheap Amazon grips!

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Fujikura’s new MC Putter shafts are PACKED with technology that you wouldn’t expect in a putter shaft. Graphite, metal, and rubber are fused together for an extremely consistent and great feeling putter shaft. Three models to fit any putter stroke out there!

Grips are in short supply right now, and there are some very cheap options on Amazon. I bought some with Prime delivery, and they aren’t as good as you would think.

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