Opinion & Analysis
Golfers have ridiculous expectations
Golf is supposed to be fun.
Even for the highest level professionals, it is still supposed to be fun.
The biggest enemy of a golfer and his scorecard is not the wrong equipment, horrible swing flaws, slow play or even your kids jumping off the top turnbuckle of the couch and doing a cannonball into your lap (Yes, this happens to me on a daily basis. The game is called “beat up daddy” and my 3- and 4-year-olds love it more than ice cream).
The biggest enemy of the golfer is being ridiculous in his or her expectations. That leads to course management problems that ruin the enjoyment of the game. It’s ok for golfers to have long-term expectations that are as high as they want, but short-term expectations, as in the very next shot, need to be more mundane at every level.
I have a good friend who is a 5 handicap. Smart guy — he went to an Ivy League law school. I once added up his cumulative expectations for every shot and he literally would have shot in the 50s had he lived up to his ridiculous standards.
He’s not alone. Golfers have a warped perception of what level of golf shots produce what scores. All you have to do is check out the PGA Tour stats.
It is safe to say that the average 0 to 15 handicap golfer is worse than the worst player on the Tour by a margin so wide it cannot be measured. The best average approach shot from the fairway to the green is 32 feet, 3 inches. Yes, you read that correctly. As I write this article, the guy on Tour who averages the closest to the pin from the fairway (shots from rough not included) is more than 32 feet. The worst on the Tour is 43 feet, 6 inches.
That means the average approach shot to the green on the Tour is between 31 and 47 feet. Why then do I hear the constant moans and groans when shots are not stoned dead?
The devil’s advocate would say, “Well, Monte, there are a lot of long approaches to the green, as there are 500-yard par 4s and pros go for the green from as long as 300 yards and those numbers are factored in.”
Fine. The best guy on Tour averages over 16 feet from the hole from 125 to 150 yards, a very common yardage for golfers playing the middle tees on par 4s and a yardage most experienced golfers expect to hit close. Again, using the premise that the average golfer is significantly worse than the worst Tour player, the bottom guy averages over 36 feet from the hole from 125 to 150.
So let’s look at this realistically. If the worst guy on the Tour is 36-plus feet from the hole, the run of the mill scratch golfer should be more than satisfied with that distance. And the 5 to 15 handicap should be doing cartwheels. But we all know that’s not the case.
I play with 15-handicaps who are ready to drive their cart into the nearest lake if they so much as hit the ball outside 30 feet on a shot of that length. Exaggeration? Maybe, but not much. Remember, these are stats from the fairway, not the rough, trees or someone’s patio.
Let’s work in even further. From the fairway, there are only 35 players who are currently averaging under 10 feet from the hole on shots of 50 to 75 yards, and many average over 30 feet. It’s a small sample size at this point on the season, but it is still telling.
These stats tell us one thing: We mere mortals should be happy just to hit the ball on the green, which leads me to the next faux pas I see. A solid single digit has a 100-yard shot to a tucked right pin and is taking dead aim. He shoves it 15 feet and short sides himself.
“If I can’t hit the green from 100 yards, I might as well quit,” I’ve heard many say.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that.
My response is he just hit a great shot and has a 15-foot putt from the fringe, or simple chip that is very make-able. The response is still being incredulous about missing the green because it is a blackmark on the stat sheet. So I do this. I drop five balls and offer them $20 to hit all five balls on the green anywhere. The result is often all five balls on the green between 10 and 50 feet with an average around 40. Basically, not much worse than the average shot of a low-end Tour player.
I am definitely not saying you should be this conservative, but be aware of what a good shot actually is. If you are a good player with a good short game, know that shots that miss the green but are still close to the hole are often more damaging to your stats than your score.
Even with the advent of Flightscope, Trackman and laser range finders, I am still appalled at the horrendous lack of knowledge golfers have about how far they hit the ball. Play any golf course in the world and you will see two things.
- Greenside bunkers short of the green that look as if they were the front of a WWI battle.
- Nearly untouched bunkers behind the green that only receive traffic from the people who hit it in the front bunkers and decide that picking the ball clean is the best way to hit a sand shot.
Let me give you some advice. The distance you hit an iron is not how far you hit one downhill, downwind, at altitude, when you leaned on one orhit the best shot of your life (and after it landed a coyote picked it up and ran another 50 yards). Seeing as how I have played with many golfers who played 18 consecutive holes without hitting a ball that didn’t land short of the green, this is again not much hyperbole.
“OK, Monte, we get the point, we need to take the average distance we hit our clubs, give it a rest.”
Well, I won’t give it a rest because that is wrong too. It is not the average distance you hit a club, but the distance you hit the ball most often. That sounds like the same thing, but I have found though years of harassing poor, unsuspecting amateurs that the “most often” shot is usually five and sometimes as much as 10 yards shorter than the best shot. But the fear of going over the green chides people into being short all day long. Using the most often approach can result in five or more saved shots from not being short, which is a lot better for your score than the one bogey you might make from the career shot that sails over the green.
I like what the great Jackie Burke said to one of his students when he was pondering a club choice. He asked the unsuspecting young star what he could hit over the green. The student responded, “5-iron.”
Burke then responded, “Well then, wouldn’t that make this a 6?”
There are so many ways to improve your scores if you just use some common sense. The Ivy League lawyer I spoke of earlier, well that kind of on-course behavior runs in the family. His father would attempt flop shots (which he was horrible at) from a place where Phil Mickelson would be hard pressed to get the ball within 30 feet. The results were predictable. He would advance the ball 6 feet in front of him from getting too cute, then the second shot would end up 30 feet, which is where it would have ended up with a normal chip, bump and run 7-iron, foot wedge, topped driver or one of Phil’s gravity defying parachute flops.
The answer to this question is the answer to most every other shot in golf. What shot would have the best cumulative results if you hit it 10 times? It might not be the way Tiger plays it, the way Johnny Miller says is the best way to play it or the way your club champion plays it, but if it’s the way you can do it well most times, it’s the right shot even if your friends laugh at you for putting from 20 yards off the green with a sprinkler in your line.
Now that I have segued to putting, more strokes are lost on putting by people trying to make too many putts. You read the putt, you line up, hit it the right speed and it will go in or it won’t. You have no control over anything but proper speed outside of 3 to 4 feet. Don’t believe me? The best putters on Tour only make two out of five putts from 10 to 15 feet, and many only make one out of five or worse.
My question is: Why are we trying so hard to make long putts? Why do we hit them so hard or and try to steer them on line?
Unless you are a masochist and want to provide hours of entertainment for your friends, dollars for their bankroll and keep the producers of Prozac in business, the next time you play golf try this:
1. Hit whatever club (using your normal yardages) will end up 5 yards short of the back edge of the green.
2. Try to hit the ball where your predominate miss won’t miss the green, no mater where the pin is.
3. Try and hit every putt outside of 5 feet the correct speed and don’t worry about whether it goes in or not.
4. Be ambivalent about the results of individual shots.
I guarantee your next 20 rounds will lower your handicap.
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Opinion & Analysis
The Wedge Guy: Are you making the game too hard?
In earlier posts, I’ve put forth the notion that most of us are playing golf courses that are much, much tougher on us than the weekly PGA Tour courses are on those elite players. This game is supposed to be fun and reasonably fair, so please hear me out…it might change the way you think of the “forward tees.”
This topic was stimulated by a conversation our golf committee had this past week regarding the course setup for our fall member-guest tournament, punctuated by the “whining” we heard from the tour players as they challenged a very tough Oak Hill Country Club in the PGA Championship.
The “third nail” was a statistic I saw a day or two ago that in a recent PGA Tour season – for the entire season — Dustin Johnson only hit one approach shot on a par-4 hole with more than a 7-iron! Imagine that — going a whole season (or even nine holes) without hitting more than a 7-iron to a par-4 hole.
Now, back to the conversation in the golf committee meeting about having all players in the member-guest play our regular white tees. These are my tees of choice because at my distance profile, they present a variety of approach shot challenges. For perspective, I’ll share that at 71 years old, I still average about 245-250 off the tee, and a “stock” 7-iron shot is 145-148 (I still play the Hogan blades I designed in 2015, and that is a 33-degree club).
Of our three par-5s, one is an honest three-shot challenge, one is often reachable with a 4-wood or 3-iron if I choose to challenge the water bordering the green on the right, and the other one plays straight into the prevailing wind, so reaching it with a 4-wood is a rare occurrence. The par-3s present me with an 8-iron to wedge, two 6- or 7-iron shots, and a full 3-iron or 4-wood. Of the remaining 11 par four holes, I’ll typically hit four to five wedges, and run through the entire set of irons for the others.
Now, let’s contrast that with many of the guys I play with. From the forward gold tees, some of them are playing what effectively amounts to six to eight par 5s (three shots to get home) and a par 6, and they rarely get an approach shot with less than a 6- or 7-iron. So, respectful to their strength profiles, they are playing a course that is brutally longer than anything the PGA Tour players ever see.
Add to that the fact that most of us do not play courses with fairways anywhere near as consistent and smooth as those on the PGA Tour, so our typical lie is much different from the tour players. Our sand texture varies from hole to hole, as opposed to “PGA Tour sand” that these guys see week in and week out.
So, I’ll give you this thought and challenge about what tees you should play to make the game more interesting and still challenging. Think about the course you play most often and process it hole by hole from the green backward. Which tees should you play to give yourself the following challenges?
- At least one reachable par 5, and the others requiring no more than a wedge or 9-iron third shot.
- Par-3 approaches with one short iron or wedge, one long iron, hybrid or fairway wood, and two that present you with a 6- to 8-iron approach.
- Of the par 4s, an assortment that gives you several wedges and short iron approaches and no more than two that put a longer club than a 5-iron in your hands.
My bet is that almost all of you will find yourselves needing to move up at least one set of tees, if not two, in order to play the course like this. But wouldn’t golf be more fun if you had a reasonable chance to have a birdie putt on most holes if you hit two good shots? And if you weren’t wearing out your fairway woods and hybrids all the way around?
Just food for thought, so share yours…
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Opinion & Analysis
2023 Charles Schwab Betting Tips: Fan favorite ready to dominate at Colonial
It is doubtful that even the most optimistic golf fan could have envisaged the field at Colonial this week.
In an era where elevated events secure the very best players, the undecorated Charles Schwab Challenge sees the re-appearance of both runners-up at Oak Hill. Scottie Scheffler’s impressive last round push once again secured his place at the top of the rankings, whilst Viktor Hovland seeks to avenge an unfortunate 16th hole, where his dreams of a first major were dashed by one single shot.
Colonial favours no ‘type’ of player other than one that is currently strong with approach play and can take advantage of finding these small greens. In that regard, the old-fashioned ‘greens-in-regulation’ stat becomes more important than usual, offering better chances of putting – after all, finding the short stuff but three-putting from 65 feet means little compared to landing the ball 20-odd feet from the pin and making half of them.
With such a strong representation from the world’s top 20 players, it is tough to find any long-shots that might compete. In that regard, I’ll play it light (as I have at the Dutch Open) and just watch re-runs of the 16th at the PGA at the ad breaks.
Clear favourite Scottie Scheffler trumps the man I consider his biggest rival in Viktor Hovland in a few ways. The 26-year-old was far less bothered about his second place last week, having re-ignited after a poor third round, and has last year’s runner-up finish to boost his chance. That he should have beaten Sam Burns is neither here nor there considering his two wins and numerous placings since, and he comes here leading the 12-week stats for greens and in a top five position for putting average. At 4/1 though, he is very hard to be with.
Hovland may well suffer a post-major hangover whilst all my Spieth bullets are lined up for Royal Liverpool in July, leaving our Mexico Open hero, Tony Finau, to take the main stage.
After four wins in 44 starts, the affable 33-year-old has long since shred his reputation of ‘not doing it’ with the start of his winning streak being at the 2021 Northern Trust where he beat Cam Smith in a play-off with Rahm in third, and a host of major contenders further behind. Flying finishes then saw the 33-year-old finish runner-up to Rahm here, and to Rory McIlroy in Canada, before beating lesser field by three shots at the 3M, Patrick Cantlay et al by five at the Rocket Mortgage and a Houston Open field containing Sheffler and Sam Burns by an easy four strokes last November.
It was hard to be too disapointed with 2023 after nine consective cuts, including top 10 finishes at Kapalua and Torrey Pines, and his victory over the then world number one, Jon Rahm, in Mexico was richly deserved.
For the eighth time this year, Finau ranked top-15 for tee-to-green, all off solid iron play, and I’ll ignore his last two being that he’s never taken to Quail Hollow and the finish just outside the top-20 is perfectly acceptable, while he never figured at Oak Hill, compiling some of his worst figures for a while.
In this week’s field he is top-10 for all of ball-striking, approaches and tee-to-green, whilst he brings vital course form to the table with seven cuts that include a runner-up in 2019 and fourth last season. Comp form is good, with four improving top-25s at a similar track in River Highlands, whilst his Texas form works out nicely with an easy win at the Houston Open.
For his last six appearances Big Tone averages just about fifth for off-the-tee, has three outings of 16th or better for iron play and averages better than 20th for tee-to-green.
Having been well away from the pressures of last week, Finau can make it a nap hand of wins inside 50 outings.
Respect to the likes of Sungjae Im and Russell Henley, but they plod rather than kick-on in contention, and I’m not sure that will work with such a top end. Instead I’ll take a chance with Brian Harman, a player for whom we can rule out half the events in a season and jump on when conditions are right.
Now 36, it’s easy to forget what the Sea Island resident does on the course, but the last two seasons have been impressive enough to have him well inside the top-50, and assurances of playing in all four majors.
2022 saw the diminutive former US Amateur run up two second place finishes at Mayakoba and Hilton Head, a track facing similar conditions to this week’s. To bolster his claims he finished third at the American Express and the higher-class St.Jude, confirming his top-10s at the Valspar, Wells Fargo, Travelers and The Open to be no fluke.
Of that lot, Copperhead links us nicely to Sam Burns, back-to-back winner of the Valspar and defending champ this week, whilst his eighth place at River Highlands was the lefty’s fifth top-10 in his last eight outings around the Connecticut track.
Harman tends to repeat form at tracks, so note his streak of cuts here from 2014 to 2021, and his three top-10 finishes. As for his miss last year, he fought back from an opening 77 to record 11 shots better in his second round.
The missed cuts at Quail and Oak Hill were by no means horrendous, if probably expected, and concentrate on the positive figures he records from being accurate. Harman finds something here, and could easily repeat his effort at Harbour Town in April when landing his first top-10 of the season.
Finally, have a shekel or two on Carson Young, a steadily progressive 28-year-old that has worked his way through the ranks via wins on the South America and Korn Ferry tours.
Now settling down after a rough start to his rookie year, he led the Honda Classic after the first round, and followed a week later leading the Puerto Rico Open until halfway, eventually finishing in third.
Results have been mixed but his last six efforts have seen missed cuts followed by top-20s at the Heritage, Mexico and Byron Nelson, all performances that have seen him in the top echelons for accuracy and green-finding.
This may be a tough ask on debut, but he’s coming off Tuesday’s impressive five-shot victory at US Open qualifying in Dallas, making nine 3’s in a row and thrashing the likes of Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell, making the prices for top-10 and top-20 very attractive.
- Tony Finau – WIN
- Brian Harman – WIN/T5
- Carson Young – WIN/T5
- Carson Young – Top-20
Opinion & Analysis
The best bets for the 2023 KLM Dutch Open
It could have been an awful lot worse.
After a thrilling PGA Championship, we could have expected the quality threshold to drop a fair bit on both sides of the pond. Instead, at Colonial, we will be treated to the sight of the new world number one Scottie Scheffler; the man who maybe should have won his first major last week, Viktor Hovland; local hero Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau. That’s not to mention the rest of the world’s top-20.
The KLM Dutch Open can’t boast such a field, but the very top of the market contains the defending champion, Victor Perez, an excellent 12th at Oak Hill, and equally in-form Adrian Meronk, winner in Italy two starts ago and 40th last week in his second consectutive US major.
Once a highlight of the European Tour – think Seve, Langer, Monty, Miguel and Westwood – we have now lost the much-loved tight tracks that called for guile, replaced by Bernardus Golf, a newish, not-quite-formed, not links-not-parkland, course and a field, the like of which we see every single week.
In the end, does it matter? The job is to identify the winner, and even though the last two winners have done the job in contrasting styles, there are some very obvious clues about the top of the board at both the 2022 and ’23 runnings.
Inaugural Bernardus champ, Kristoffer Broberg, came into the event off some slight promise. After long-term loss of form and injury, he snuck into notice at the Scandinavian Mixed, but it was the tournament after his emotional victory that catches the eye.
The Swede has only one other top-10 finish in over 30 outings since winning here, that coming at the Alfred Dunhill Links, where he shared a ninth place with Matti Schmid, the German he beat into second place in the Netherlands.
Fast-forward a year, and the defending champion, Perez, has his most notable victory at the 2019 Links, whilst his defeated play-off rival Ryan Fox also won at the same pro-am three years later.
The link (sorry) is very clear. Bernardus continues the theme adopted by designer Kyle Phillips. Responsible for the likes of Kingsbarns, Dundonald Links (home of the Scottish Open 2017), Yas Links (current host of the Abu Dhabi Championship) and the former home of this event, Hilversumsche Golf Club, it’s a surprise he did not have a hand in Rinkven Golf Club in Belgium, where Fox, Meronk and Marcel Schneider – all within two shots of Perez around here – finished in second, sixth and seventh at the Soudal Open a year previous.
Last season, Fox showed that coming off the PGA was not much of a hardship, but despite the nagging feeling that 6/1 coupled is actually a bit of value, I’ll just about ignore the jollies with the other side of the brain thinking this comes too quickly.
Others to catch the eye across the two events include Aaron Cockerill, Thomas’s Detry and Pieters, and my favourite of all for the week, Alexander Bjork, for whom a victory is very much overdue.
The Swede catches in the eye in more ways than just his 2023 form, but that has plenty to recommend him.
Bjork’s runner-up at Al Hamra in April saw him just in front of Meronk, with earlier Ras champion Fox a couple of shots ahead of Marcus Helligkilde (prominent for three rounds of the Dutch Open in 2021), Perez and Matt Jordan, a frustrating player but with a top five finish at the Links.
That was to be the third of nine successive cuts that include top five finishes in Italy (winner – Meronk – top 10 finish for Perez) and in Belgium, where on each occasion he put up some of the best stats in the field for irons and putting.
After ticking that off, look at his sixth place finish at what might as well be called Broberg’s Scandi Mixed, tied-third at the 2022 Hero Open – won by 2022 Soudal Open champion Sam Horsfield – and his seventh place here last season, when never out of the top 10.
The figures may prompt a negative comment about distance off the tee, but he has plenty of form in the desert (20/28 at Yas Links) where second shot control is more important, as well as in Himmerland, where iron players dominated. Find anything else? nah, me neither.
After a tough week, it was tempting to leave Bjork as a one-and-done but the designer-led theme leads me to Shubhankar Sharma, a player that would look to suit the old-style Dutch Open but improved from a debut 27th here to 14th last season, the best effort coming after three consecutive missed-cuts.
Best efforts over the years are all on the tighter, tree-lined courses of Malaysia, Joburg and Wentworth, but amongst those are a further two outings at a Phillips course – runner-up and seventh in Abu Dhabi – the former when a shot behind Pieters (two top 10 finishes here) and tied with Rafa Cabrera-Bello, winner of the 2017 Scottish Open.
Recent results appear worse than they are, lying inside the top-25 at halfway in Korea and 18th after round one of the Soudal in Belgium.
Scott Jamieson was tempting after a solid run of results and past results in the desert, but, for the last pick, I’ll row in again on still-progressive Clement Sordet.
The 30-year-old Frenchman went into the Soudal Open a popular fancy after a pair of top-10 finishes in Korea and Italy, but blew his chance with an opening 77 before rallying with a second-round six-under 65. That effort confirmed he was still striking the ball well and continued his top-20 figures for approaches and tee-to-green.
With the added advantage of length, Sordet very much reminds me of the likes of Meronk, and it may be that he just needs that slice of luck to get over the line in this company.
It appears that punters are asked to forgive quite a lot when looking away from the top of the market, and whilst the likes Helligkilde, Pepperrell, Mansell et al will understandably have their fans, I’ll keep it very light this week.
- Alexander Bjork
- Shubhankar Sharma
- Clement Sordet
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Mar 31, 2015 at 11:41 am
Monte, that is exactly how I was taught to play. My friends laugh when I take an extra club to put the ball on the green except I get the last laugh when they always come up short. There was a saying by an old Tour pro, I can’t remember exactly who, but he said “try to get the ball on the green and let the hole come to you”. Meaning in a round of golf, doesn’t matter how close you are to the hole. Eventually, you will end up closer to the hole than you expected and then you try to make a birdie. In my experience, a lot of the guys I play with kill themselves stalking pins and trying to get it close on every single hole not realizing that par is a good score.
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bud "flag" zenswing
Jul 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm
Good job, Monte. I have been writing about this on my site for years. Especially the part about club selection. In fact, I once held a tournament called the 3 irons challenge. You were permitted to take only a 4 iron, 7 iron, a pitching wedge, and a putter. I can’t tell you how many of the players came up to me after the round and told me it was the best golf they had ever played. Throw out your driver and your “flop” wedge and put up a good score.
Bud “flag” Zenswing
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May 1, 2013 at 10:18 pm
Golf is just a game of misses and managing misses. Ben Hogan said it him self, a golfer rarely hits 1 or 2 golf shots the way he wants it. It’s just making the misses manageable.
Apr 26, 2013 at 5:42 am
Thank you for a great article.
It is a fact that all amateurs hit almost all of their shots shorter than anticipated. Me included. Therefore I started a system where I put a “minus” in the margin of the scorecard for each short shot, and a “plus” for each shot that are long for all shots toward the green and on the green. My goal is to have more “plusses” than “minuses” at the end of a round. If you try it, it really is difficult. If I am long it is almost always less distance from the pin compared to the short shots. Works for me…when I use it.
Apr 25, 2013 at 7:41 pm
Great article. I’ve just finished reading ‘Golf is not a game of perfect’ and ‘Zen Golf’, and this fits right in with the concepts in those reads. Pre-acceptance of not perfect shots, and knowing you’re going to scramble are keys to enjoying golf more. And as someone else mentioned, NOT keeping score occasionally is excellent therapy, I do that when playing with my girlfriend, as you’ll know when you par or birdie and the rest will fade away as you enjoy the day.
Apr 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm
Great read! I use advice from a Mickelson article years ago in GD for putting. Make a few practice strokes you know will not get it to the hole. Then a few strokes that will put it too far from the hole. Now you have your stroke dialed in for distance. Works 99% of the time to get long putts closer. Easy Peasy yall!
Apr 25, 2013 at 12:27 pm
I’m glad that my wife and I just push our carts along the course and have a great time regardless of the score, conditions, etc. Golf is nothing more than a game and those who treat it like it’s more than that are really needing to look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves “What am I truly missing in my life?” I ask you all to play a round just one time without keeping score and just enjoy the time outdoors with friends and family playing this GAME.
Apr 25, 2013 at 8:49 am
When approaching a green my rule is if the pin is on the front half take the club that will get you to the pin on a normal shot or past the pin with a long hit. If it’s in the back half hit it to the front for a normal shot and pin high for a long hit. It’s most likely to be offline anyway so just getting it at least green high is good enough.
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Apr 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm
Great feedback and commentary…a wake up call to me and many others!! Enjoy the game!! Thanks!
Apr 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm
Good read. I especially like the bit about Jackie Burke’s quote, because it’s basically the way I’ve taken to choosing clubs for anything outside of a wedge shot (where I’m probably still too often guilty of trying to choose the right “stone dead” club). I have a GPS unit on my bag, and I almost always just look at the distance to the back of the green, and try to hit a club that I will hit to that distance IF I hit a very good shot with it. This has got me hitting more greens–and being within a short chip on mis-hits more often. The only exceptions to this would be if I know there’s trouble long and there’s none short. Then I don’t mind coming up a bit short.
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Apr 24, 2013 at 3:17 pm
I don’t believe I’ve paired with you before, have I? You shouldn’t write about my game to others like this (although I’ve never have wanted, yet anyway, to drive the cart into the nearest lake). All jesting aside, I’m going to follow your 4 tips religiously henceforth, at least for next 20 rounds (which may take yrs to complete at current rate) and if/when my non-existent handicap were to be lowered (surely I’ll be able to tell if my scores would have been lowered on average), I’m taking you out to lunch next time I’m in SoCal.
Apr 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm
a great read, Monte. the totally un-realistic stress we part-time, low-handicap players put on our games…. For a part-timer, its all about eliminating the ‘disaster’ shots – the chunked pitch, the skulled wedge, the nasty block off the tee, etc. I think Mike LeBauve put it best when he said “you need to make your short game ‘disaster-proof’ – meaning, if you hit everything just decently, you’d score fine. We all need to quit fantasizing that we’re a couple of buckets of balls from Tour quality ball-striking and stop trying to ride the razor’s edge. Put a decent move on it, go find it, repeat. Stop trippin’ on gram weight of 3 wood shafts when you’re making more bogeys than birdies….there are bigger fish to fry than the gram weight of your 3 wood shaft.
Apr 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm
when factoring the average distance from the pin tour players hit it you also have to realize they aren’t firing at the pin, they are generally hitting to the safest spot on the green that gives them a chance to make the birdie putt and avoid trouble.
Apr 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm
This is a great article and I agree with your guarantee but I believe you have the wrong information about 1 putts from 10-15 feet. This is what I found http://www.pgatour.com/content/pgatour/stats/stat.405.html. This has rankings from 1-185 of 1 putts made from 10-15′ with a percentage ranging from 45%-13%
Apr 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm
Justin, you are correct. I used the wrong stat. I used % of 1 putts and not % of putts made. Good call. Those numbers seemed low to me when I posted them.
So the best make 2 of 5 and the worst only 1 of 8.
The same point still stands, as I am sure most would agree
Apr 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm
It’s no problem at all. Yeah, it struck me as a really low number too but it is still a great point and a great article.
Apr 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm
Thanks again for pointing that out. I had that part of the article edited.
Apr 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm
This article will really help me. I was a gymnast in college where, if I didn’t pull off each stunt with near precision, I could easily break my neck. I think this is the basis on which I’ve been playing golf…expecting perfection on every shot and cussing myself out it’s not. Super dumb. Your words of wisdom backed up with solid statistics has finally reached me. Thanks and lets see if I can lower my expectations on the course.
Apr 24, 2013 at 11:58 am
it’s been awhile since i fully agreed with a golfwrx article. this one is great. well done.
Phillip Schmidt III
Apr 24, 2013 at 1:19 am
Great article Monte!
All our students at my Academy shall each receive a copy of this…keep it coming.
Phillip Schmidt III
Director of Salt Creek Jr. Golf Academy
Chula Vista, CA
Apr 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm
Phil, almost made it out to your course for a long drive event, but I qualified in Arizona the day before.
Great to hear from you. Have to make a trip down there.
Apr 24, 2013 at 12:57 am
That was one of the better articles I have read on this site. Those stats for tour players are actually staggering! Makes me feel great about hitting so many GIRs, and not so bad about 2 putting.
Apr 23, 2013 at 2:05 pm
I think this is all great advice. Hopefully, I can take it to heart and use it to improve my own game. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that on many courses you are penalized more if you go over the green than if you come up short. Actually, at the course I play there are at least 10 greens where you definitely don’t want to go long.
Apr 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm
Guilty on all counts! Thanks for writing this – hopefully it will help me re-think my expectations.
I played a lot of tennis when I was younger and when you think about it there is a “miss” on every point – otherwise the points would go on forever. You never hear a tennis player say I have to hit every shot perfectly.
Apr 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm
Fantastic article and some great tips at the end there. Thanks.
Apr 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm
Great advice Monte thanks. For folks who watch a lot of golf on TV, these statistics will certainly come as a surprise. We only ever see the leaders, who are really in control of their game that week. Meanwhile there are plenty of “average” shots being played and putts being missed.
Apr 25, 2013 at 1:42 pm
This is so true. They generally just follow a couple players that are playing well and then show highlights from around the course. We see a lot more shots that end up within 15 ft. than ones that end up 30+ ft. away. Obviously it is more fun to watch that, but it does not help with expectations for most.
Apr 23, 2013 at 11:38 am
Fantastic article. This should be published in all of the major golf magazines. Amateurs should play golf for mere enjoyment! If not, why play at all if you are going to leave the course miserable?? The problem with most amateur golfers who are, let us say competitive in their profession tend to bring that intensity to the golf course–big mistake. I used to do that in my thirties but learned slowly over time to realize that I am going to mishit 5 to 10 shots a game in most rounds that I play and, I have to be mature enough to accept that and just enjoy a great walk. My handicap fluctuates between a 12 and a 15-16. I have learned to enjoy the game!!
May 1, 2013 at 10:13 pm
No offence but there are people who play the game and it brings enjoyment and people who get enjoyment out of playing the game well. Being competitive in golf and trying to be the best I can be is a great hobby. If I were to just go out and not and try and better myself every time I play and accept my bad shots then I am someone who just enjoys the game. I have been playing since I was 10. I have been a 3, 6, 10, 12 and 15 handicap. I am currently a 12 due to a 6 year absence from it. Every golfer knows bad shots will happen because golf is a game of misses. It’s just making the misses not horrendous misses and just little misses.
Apr 23, 2013 at 11:25 am
I think I need to print out the 4 tips at the end of this article, have them laminated, and attach it to my golf bag.
Apr 23, 2013 at 11:21 am
Well done Monte. Since when does logic and real stats ever persuade anyone though 🙂
Apr 23, 2013 at 11:11 am
Excellent article! The title describes me quite accurately. I’m a ~12-15 now. I have taken a couple “career” self imposed time-outs due to frustration and anger regarding my expectations. Will definitely keep this print version in my bag to refer to. Just what the Doctor ordered! Thank you!
Apr 23, 2013 at 10:47 am
Good read. Definitely something a lot of us needed to hear. I might have to bookmark this and read it everyday in hopes of remembering some of it while I’m out on the course.
Apr 23, 2013 at 10:26 am
Great read! I have been very interested in course management lately. I haven’t had a chance with all our crazy weather to get out this year but I will definitely be putting some of these suggestions into play.