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# 1. Length and Handicap: (7'11")

## 18 posts in this topic

I have a friend that I play golf with everyday. Last year he says to me "bro if you could hit 300 yards every time down the middle you would be shooting eight under par (-8) every round." At the time I had shot several nines under par, but had not had a total round under par. Many many full rounds at par or a few strokes over, with many other rounds in the high 70's low 80's.

Over the last year I have had my first hole in one 12/10/2011. I had my first round under par 4/4/2012 (-1) 70. Then on 7/7/2012 I shot my age on nine holes 31 (-5) and that same round shot my best score -5 (67) CR (72.3). I also passed the P.A.T. at Firestone C.C. in October on the first run. (78)(73).

My driving proficiency has improved from a year ago and the above described events have occurred to corroborate his theory.

Although this may seem true, my answer to him at the time was a simple test:

Start 50 yards from the hole on all 18 holes and see how many times you can get the ball in the hole in two. He only got the ball in the hole in two twice on the entire 18.

I think length does play a role in lower scoring, but it is not the determining factor. I think the determining factor is 7'11".

A major stat in golf is that tour pros make more than 50% of their putts from 7'11' and shorter. Anything longer than 7'11" and the percentage drops to less than 50%. So if your approach shots (no matter how long your drive might have been) are outside this number then that drive made little difference in relationship to scoring.

So here is the discussion question: Why do golfers believe that driving the ball longer will drop their scores the fastest? (For proof of this assumption, look at golfers goals for the year thread and add up how many people say their goal is to straighten and lengthen their driver and lower their handicap.)

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Because the world's best golfers don't hit the ball inside 8' all that often. Driving and iron play is huge when it comes to scoring. More so than putting.
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My feeling is that most people say it for 2 reasons: 1. Because there is a perception that hitting the ball farther will make the game easier. It is obvious that it is easier to hit a 8 iron into a green than a 5 iron. This distance is about 30 yards and so most golfers think more yardage will allow them to hit shorter clubs into the greens and easier to go for par 5's in 2. 2. I suspect that most golfers when they play with someone significantly better than them that better player is longer than them. I can honestly say that when I play with guys better than me, they are almost always longer than me. This give the perception that these golfers are better because they are longer. P.S. - Additionally it is fun to brag about how far you hit it. Just look how many guys hit is 300 yards on golf forum. P.P.S. - Chicks dig the long ball.
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Because it seems a lot easier to add distance off the tee than it does stuffing a club to less than 7'11". People like easy solutions, and they want to believe distance is key. It takes 20 minutes to get twenty more yards off the tee... it takes a lot longer to learn to hit the ball accurately enough to get birdie putts that are regularly make able.
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Saw an interesting stat this morning taken from TrackMan's aggregated Combine* data.

Scratch golfers' average proximity to the target from 175 yards was 35.6 ft, bogey golfers' average was 110.5 ft.

The long game matters. The Danger Zone matters a lot.

http://www.golfwrx.com/48333/the-blind-spot-of-pga-tour-players/

* (http://trackman.dk/Products/TrackMan-Pro/Combine.aspx)

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Because it seems a lot easier to add distance off the tee than it does stuffing a club to less than 7'11". People like easy solutions, and they want to believe distance is key. It takes 20 minutes to get twenty more yards off the tee... it takes a lot longer to learn to hit the ball accurately enough to get birdie putts that are regularly make able.

I would pay a lot to gain 20 yards in 20 minutes. Do you really think that's possible for the majority?

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Originally Posted by mchepp

My feeling is that most people say it for 2 reasons:

1. Because there is a perception that hitting the ball farther will make the game easier. It is obvious that it is easier to hit a 8 iron into a green than a 5 iron. This distance is about 30 yards and so most golfers think more yardage will allow them to hit shorter clubs into the greens and easier to go for par 5's in 2.

UncleRobot,

Thanks for the thread start.  mchepp hit on the most relevant thought.  On Par 4s and 5s, especially, the second shot can determine our ability to score well.  We see Pros hitting long irons into a Par 5 and think distance off the tee is key.

I would add the accuracy off the tee is far more important, and you get the added benefit of more distance.  A straight drive (or slight draw or fade) will go further than a big fade or draw and end up on the fairway.  Makes the approach shot a lot shorter and easier.

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My putting has improved drastically this year, but my handicap has skyrocketed so I agree with the guys that say ball-striking is more important than putting.

I averaged 1.7 putts last round but shot a 94.....  Those recovery shots from poor tee shots will kill your score.

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Originally Posted by 14ledo81

I would pay a lot to gain 20 yards in 20 minutes. Do you really think that's possible for the majority?

I would definitely say it's possible, but the majority of golfers don't hit the ball properly so there's a lot of room for improvement.

My real point though, is that people in general want to take the easy way out and adding distance seems like it should be as simple and easy as swinging harder, and like was said before, hitting shorter clubs in is better. It's perceived to be easier to swing harder than it is to make that shot cone significantly smaller.

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The whole idea that 7'11 is some magical number is flawed and the idea if you leave your approach shot at 12' that it didn't matter what you drive was is idiotic.  Driving sets up the rest of the hole. You can still screw it up with bad shots later but without a good drive it is hard to score. For example take a 400 yard par 4. If you drive it 300, you have a 100 yard approach shot. Drive it 250, you have a 150 yard approach shot. Drive it 200, you have  200 yard one. Which one do you think has the best opportunity to a) hit the green in regulation and b) have a makeable putt? Is it easier for the 3rd player to pick up 50 yards (maybe. If he is like a 30 year old with bad contact and slice is easy. If he is 70, not so much) or to get the ability to hit an approach shot (which will be 20+ yards short of the green), a short game shot, and then one putt?  The 250 versus 300 case is a bit more interesting.  Is it easier to improve accuracy from 150 (you will never consistantly leave it with in 20ft but you will get a good chunk with in that range) or add in a bunch of yards off the tee? Depends a lot on the player.

If you are hitting the ball straight with good contact, getting more distance probably will not change your game as you will struggle to pick up 30+ yards unless you have a really poorly fitting club or your AOA is really negative. For the guy that slices and has poor contact, picking up 30+ yards is possible and can really change your game.

Originally Posted by onephenom

Because it seems a lot easier to add distance off the tee than it does stuffing a club to less than 7'11". People like easy solutions, and they want to believe distance is key.

It takes 20 minutes to get twenty more yards off the tee... it takes a lot longer to learn to hit the ball accurately enough to get birdie putts that are regularly make able.

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Drive it in the fairway with reasonable distance (whatever that may mean) and you will have usually eliminated a disaster score.  As long as you are able to make decent contact with your approach clubs, having a drive in the fairway SHOULD lead to no worse than a bogey no matter how poor your short game and putting are. Certainly a much better score than hitting 3 off the tee after an OB.

Hitting a drive 30 yards closer to the green so that you have 100 yards in rather than 130 should lead to nor worse than par.   But remember, even from 100 yards, you will rarely get inside 8 feet (2012 PGA tour's best from 100-125 yards is 15' 8"). Thus, birdies are not that easy to come by. Par 5's are the exception, assuming your can get your 2nd shot within 50 yards of the green or so.  Then you may have a legitimate chance at birdie.

I would call good driving "bogey or worse avoidance" rather than "birdie opportunities". That is, unless you can leave yourself an approach of 50 yards.

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As others have said, i think it depends on ones skill level. For me, GIR's is the most important thing. I've been able to become a decent scorer while averaging less than 1 in 3 greens per round. Those rare days when I hit 10 GIR!s are the times I have a career day. Playing golf like this (I call myself a crappy single-digit handicapper) makes one become fairly proficient within 50 yds of the green (a good percentage of up an downs). My goal is to improve my ball striking to simply hit more GIR's. if I could get to a point where I was hitting 14 per round, maybe that 8' number you mention would become relevant. At this point, though, it would be crazy for someone like me to set that high of a standard.
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Originally Posted by boil3rmak3r

As others have said, i think it depends on ones skill level. For me, GIR's is the most important thing. I've been able to become a decent scorer while averaging less than 1 in 3 greens per round. Those rare days when I hit 10 GIR!s are the times I have a career day.

Playing golf like this (I call myself a crappy single-digit handicapper) makes one become fairly proficient within 50 yds of the green (a good percentage of up an downs).

My goal is to improve my ball striking to simply hit more GIR's. if I could get to a point where I was hitting 14 per round, maybe that 8' number you mention would become relevant. At this point, though, it would be crazy for someone like me to set that high of a standard.

But in order to hit more GIR's, you have to be in the short grass (or close) off the tee with a reasonable shot into the green.  If you suck off the tee, you're not going to see many GIR's, as I've witnessed this year, no matter how good your irons are.

I actually have better putting stats when my GIRs are low for the round, as I think most people do who can chip and pitch reasonably well.  So I'd agree with you that the 7'11" is a bit misleading for amateurs.

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I agree. I guess I didn't actually answer the original OP's question... Of course we would all like to hit it further, who wouldn't. I am not a long knocker (7i = 150 yds), but my course doesn't require more than 1 or 2 approach shots with a club higher than a 6 iron for me. Sure, I would like to have 1 or 2 clubs less on every shot, but I should be able to hit a lot of greens with the current clubs I have to use. If I improve my ball striking, which includes the driver, I should be able to accomplish this. Also, I don't know how I could make simple changes to my swing and get 20 yds more with each club. I'm hoping that striking the ball more solidly (I.e. having the bottom of my divot consistently well in front of my ball), will not only add to accuracy, but just may well also add to distance...
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There is nothing special about 8'. At that point your stroked gained would be ~.5 (i.e. you will birdie instead of par) but there is nothing magical about .5. At 12 ft it might be .3 and at 20' maybe .1.  If you had all 18 shots land 20' from the hole, you would likely end up  1-3 under most days. Most people would take that.   The most common result of a 15' and a 30' shot is the same (2 putt) but the reality is that if you compare the distribution of shots that lead to a 15' versus 30' one, you will see a lot more birdies with the 15' and less with the 30'.

Quote:

As others have said, i think it depends on ones skill level. For me, GIR's is the most important thing. I've been able to become a decent scorer while averaging less than 1 in 3 greens per round. Those rare days when I hit 10 GIR!s are the times I have a career day.

Playing golf like this (I call myself a crappy single-digit handicapper) makes one become fairly proficient within 50 yds of the green (a good percentage of up an downs).

My goal is to improve my ball striking to simply hit more GIR's. if I could get to a point where I was hitting 14 per round, maybe that 8' number you mention would become relevant. At this point, though, it would be crazy for someone like me to set that high of a standard.

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Originally Posted by boil3rmak3r

I agree. I guess I didn't actually answer the original OP's question...

Of course we would all like to hit it further, who wouldn't. I am not a long knocker (7i = 150 yds), but my course doesn't require more than 1 or 2 approach shots with a club higher than a 6 iron for me. Sure, I would like to have 1 or 2 clubs less on every shot, but I should be able to hit a lot of greens with the current clubs I have to use. If I improve my ball striking, which includes the driver, I should be able to accomplish this.

Also, I don't know how I could make simple changes to my swing and get 20 yds more with each club. I'm hoping that striking the ball more solidly (I.e. having the bottom of my divot consistently well in front of my ball), will not only add to accuracy, but just may well also add to distance...

I don't mean with every club, just off the tee (i.e. the driver) . But I would say 70-80% of golfers don't know enough about power in the golf swing, and don't take advantage of their potential.

But again the real problem is being accurate enough with the next shot.

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Drive it in the fairway with reasonable distance (whatever that may mean) and you will have usually eliminated a disaster score.  As long as you are able to make decent contact with your approach clubs, having a drive in the fairway SHOULD lead to no worse than a bogey no matter how poor your short game and putting are. Certainly a much better score than hitting 3 off the tee after an OB. Hitting a drive 30 yards closer to the green so that you have 100 yards in rather than 130 should lead to nor worse than par.   But remember, even from 100 yards, you will rarely get inside 8 feet (2012 PGA tour's best from 100-125 yards is 15' 8"). Thus, birdies are not that easy to come by. Par 5's are the exception, assuming your can get your 2nd shot within 50 yards of the green or so.  Then you may have a legitimate chance at birdie. I would call good driving "bogey or worse avoidance" rather than "birdie opportunities". That is, unless you can leave yourself an approach of 50 yards.

I agree with this. Birdies or birdie opportunities come from close approach shots, not so much good drives.

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even if you dont make many birdies by driving long and straight, you avoid more doubles and bogeys.

nevertheless if you can drive 300 + yards (270m) you should be able to manage wedges pretty close.

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