Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: A shot to a spot

Published

on

Over the past few years, golf has entered the statistical era, with the help of ShotLink, launch monitors, and “strokes gained.” As more and more data is analyzed, much is being written about which parts of the game are most important to scoring and winning out on tour.

It started out with “strokes gained-putting” as maybe the best indicator, but of late, we are reading more and more about ‘strokes gained-shotmaking’, which is the measure of a golfer’s ability to keep it in play and hit greens in regulation.
However, the statistics on strokes gained on tour are very different from the game most recreational golfers play. Realize that “out there”, all these guys are extraordinarily skilled in every aspect of the game, so what separates the winner from the “also-rans” in any given week drills down to a very few specific things. That is a far cry from the game you play week in and week out.

So, what about your game?

From my observation, for almost any recreational golfer, hitting 2-3 more greens per round does two things for you. 1) It gives you that many more birdie tries, and you’ll just have to make some of them. And 2) it takes that much heat off your scrambling. For the average golfer, a missed green leads to a bogey or worse more often than not. Very few recreational golfers can come close to an up-and-down percentage of anywhere near 50%, and most are around 20% at best. Think about that.

So, here’s one way to look at how you might be able to hit more greens in regulation. On the PGA Tour, greens-in-regulation percentage drops by almost half on shots from the rough over shots from the fairway. If that doesn’t hammer home the importance of hitting fairways, I don’t know what will.

Growing up in the era of persimmon drivers – which I’m sure many of you completely missed – the driver was for positioning the ball in the right part of the fairway for an approach shot, not for just blasting as far “that way” as possible. The top players of the era hit their drives to particular spots that allowed for the best approach to the green, and they didn’t let it “all out” all that often.

In his 1949 book “Power Golf” Ben Hogan, listed his ‘regular’ distance with a driver as 265, but his ‘maximum’ as 300. Who keeps 35 yards in reserve for only those times when you really need it?

So, here’s a little experiment for you the next time you can get out for a “practice nine” in the afternoon or early morning.

Each time you hit a drive in the rough, walk it out to the fairway and then back 10 to 15 yards. My bet is that you’ll find that the hole plays a bit easier, even though you have a longer club in your hands for your approach shot.

Then think about how much better you might score if you thought of each drive as a comfortably controlled shot to a spot, rather than just “hit it that way as far as I can.”

Just something to change the game a bit and keep it interesting.

Your Reaction?
  • 121
  • LEGIT28
  • WOW2
  • LOL3
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP8
  • OB3
  • SHANK16

Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Over his 40-year career in the golf industry, he has created over 100 putter designs, sets of irons and drivers, and in 2014, he put together the team that reintroduced the Ben Hogan brand to the golf equipment industry. Since the early 2000s, Terry has been a prolific writer, sharing his knowledge as “The Wedge Guy”.   But his most compelling work is in the wedge category. Since he first patented his “Koehler Sole” in the early 1990s, he has been challenging “conventional wisdom” reflected in ‘tour design’ wedges. The performance of his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to move slightly more mass toward the top of the blade in their wedges, but none approach the dramatic design of his 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 – check it out at www.EdisonWedges.com.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Jeff

    Dec 3, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    Better chance of getting to make a birdie hitting a 7-PW to the green from the rough, than hitting a 4-6 iron from the center of the fairway!!

  2. A golfer

    Dec 3, 2021 at 9:57 am

    I think even more important than not being in the rough, depending on the course, is not being blocked out by trees, OB, or lost in the woods or a hazard. Thoughtful article nonetheless. Terry is right to point out that the strokes gained stats analysis done from pros’ games may not apply exactly to average golfers.

  3. geohogan

    Dec 1, 2021 at 8:05 pm

    No course management “rules” apply in all situations.

    Good to keep, “shot to a spot” in mind on those holes where
    long rough and hazards can be very penal.

  4. l

    Dec 1, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    Who hurt “E”? ^^^^^^^^^ Jeez man relax.

  5. E

    Dec 1, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    Multiple flaws with this. First, the rough on Tour is significantly more penal than rough on most courses that amateurs play, so the “advantage” of playing in the fairway is smaller for amateurs. Also, hitting “comfortably controlled” drivers are not likely to increase your fairways hit by a measurable amount. Even if you increase your FIR % by 20%, that’s only an additional 3 fairways a round. What it definitely will do is increase the distance of your approach shots by 15 yards every single hole, which is going to negatively affect your scoring more than the additional 3 fairways hit will positively help.

    Once again a low quality article from Terry that is not rooted in facts, but merely an old school thought and mindset that golf was better “back in the day”, and the best golfers back in the day knew better just because they were the best. Follow Lou Stagner and Scott Fawcett on Twitter to learn about how to actually improve your game through an understanding of the statistics, as opposed to reading this garbage.

    • birdieman12

      Dec 3, 2021 at 9:48 am

      Really Pro? what game are you watching, the tour pros play 2 tournaments a year with tough rough, the US Open and sometimes the PGA. If that wasn’t the case the bomb and gouge wouldn’t work the way it does at every other tournament.

    • John

      Dec 3, 2021 at 10:30 am

      You have some serious Anger management issues hiding under the surface me thinks..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What we can learn from tour stats

Published

on

Today’s post was inspired by a conversation one of the Edison Golf customer service team had with a follower/challenger on Facebook. The skeptical golfer claimed that he could “hit it to 12 feet from 85 yards anytime he wanted.” His claim drove our rep to the PGA Tour website just to compare this golfer’s claim to PGA Tour reality.

His relating of this conversation and my subsequent research into tour stats inspired me to share how actual PGA Tour players’ performance might be used to help you understand your own game and how to get better, no matter whether you are a low single-digit player or still working to break 80, 90, or even 100.

The “entry point” for the research was to see how this golfer’s claims of “hitting it to 12 feet” from 85 yards would stack up to tour-level performance. Turns out this guy would be the best on tour by far if he can really do that.

INSIGHT #1: Through the entire 2021 season, only ONE tour professional averaged less than 12’ from 75-100 yards, and the tour average is almost 18 feet from that range. Now we all know that they hit it to three feet or less reasonably often, so that must mean that it is just as “normal” for tour players to hit a 75- to 100-yard wedge shot to 20-25 feet or further. In fact, just this past weekend, I saw a number of wedge shots of that distance end up 40-50 feet from the hole. It happens, even to these guys.

This revelation inspired me to dive a bit deeper into PGA Tour stats to understand the difference between hitting approach shots from the fairway and from the rough. I’ve done this deep dive periodically through my twenty years of writing this blog as “The Wedge Guy,” and the data revealed is amazing — and very enlightening.

The PGA Tour “strokes gained” analysis over the years has implied that hitting it far is much more important than hitting it straight. I won’t argue that this approach to statistics must show that, or it wouldn’t be published.

But I’ve long been an advocate for recreational golfers to find a way to get their drives in the fairway, even if it means sacrificing a few yards. There are few courses that play as easy from the rough as the fairway, and PGA Tour statistics seem to support that hypothesis, even for these guys, who have extraordinary skills and strength to gouge shots from the rough. The rest of us just do not have either.
But what is the difference — for them — between hitting approach shots from the rough and the fairway? Here is a look at the entire 2021 season stats for proximity to the hole from both, from various distances:

These figures illustrate that, on average across all approach shot distances from 5-6 iron (200-225) or less, hitting their approach from the rough will increase the length of the resulting putt or chip by about 60 percent or more. The only takeaway you can make from this is that it is extremely important to these guys to be able to hit approaches from the fairway rather than the rough, regardless of what the “strokes gained” numbers seem to imply.

Even more glaring is that the average approach from 150-175 yards in 2021 ended up closer to the hole than one from the rough from only 75-100 yards from the rough! This means that tour professionals are more accurate from the fairway with a 7- or 8-iron than they are from the rough with a sand wedge.
If the rough is that penalizing for them, maybe you should re-think what it does to your scoring.

I’m just sayin’…

Your Reaction?
  • 87
  • LEGIT13
  • WOW7
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading

Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Callaway’s new Rogue ST driver and fairway review

Published

on

The launch season continues! This week we talk about the new Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond LS driver. For a low spin, better players club it for sure packs a good amount of forgiveness. The new Rogue ST fairway woods are long, hold a lot of ball speed on mishits, and have a nice traditional sound and feel.

 

 

Your Reaction?
  • 10
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Awesome new drill for getting through the ball (stop shanking!)

Published

on

In this week’s podcast, we describe and discuss how to stop the shanks, The Sentry Tournament of Champions. We also discuss how the LPGA now has more money and is on the official sports betting list.

 

 

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending