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What do you need to play par?

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I believe many golfers make golf more complicated than it is.

I'm not saying golf is an easy game, on the contrary!

However, many golfers have the wrong idea about what is needed to play good golf.

Do you need 300 yards distance with the driver?                  NO

Do you need to be perfect at chipping and putting?               NO

Do you need perfect control over all the clubs in your bag?    NO

So what do you need?

Well, pure mathematically and theoretically, here's what you do need.

1)  you need to be able to hit your driver and irons (6 through 9) straight, consistently.

This might be a little more difficult for the driver, but not so much for the irons.

Keep in mind that accuracy (direction) is more important than distance. Your practice should ALWAYS focus on accuracy,

until your accuracy has reached +80%

2)  you need to know the normal distance range for your clubs, and the possible deviation for your irons should not be more

than about 10 yards (see required distances below)

3)  Required clubs to play par on a medium distance course: Driver - irons (6-7-8-9) - SW - PW - putter

Notice the absence of fairway woods. They are more difficult to master than irons and not necessary on

medium distance courses.

4)  required distances:    Driver    240      yards

I-9       110-125 yards

I-8       125-135 yards

I-7       140-150 yards

I-6       155-165 yards

PW        70-90 yards       full swing

SW          60 yards          full swing

Most male golfers (-60) should be able to reach these distances. If you're a little shorter, just add the 5-iron!

Just do the math: on a medium distance course, the longest par 5 will be around 560 yards.

if you're able to hit your driver and irons straight you need a 240 yards drive, 2 shots with your 6-iron

(160+160) and you're on the green in 3. Any hole on this course could give you a birdie possibility.

All you need is ACCURACY.

5)  for PW and SW, you must be able to hit 3 different distances consistently: 20-30 yards, 40-50 yards and

when you master these 3 distances, any other required distance (10yds, 15 yds,...) is within your capability.

Mastering these 3 distances is easier than it seems. It took me only 2 lessons and about 4 hours of practice!

Here too, accuracy (direction) is of the highest priority off course.

6)  For the putter, you should focus your practice on these distances: 3 feet, 6 feet, 9 feet, 12 feet.

Once you're on the green and more than 6 feet from the hole, your primary goal is NOT to make the put, but to bring the ball

as close as possible to the hole, at least within 6 feet, so you can 2-put.

3 feet: +85% should be made

6 feet: +70% should be made

Always focus on 2-putting!!!

If you focus your practice on acquiring these 6 abilities, you should be able to play par (or very near) on most medium distance courses.

General strategy: avoid bunkers at all cost!

when faced with a bunker in front of the green, you have 2 options: aim for the back of the green

(know the distance for each club!!!), or put it just

in front of the bunker and chip it as close as possible to the pin. You may loose 1 stroke, but ending up in the

bunker will probably cost you 2 strokes or more!

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I've played with good golfers who hit those sort of distances, but they tend to top out around the mid single figures range. And those guys are deadly inside 100 yards and on the greens.

Every medium distance course I've played has at least one and often two par 3s that you won't reach with your 160 yard 6 iron. And a couple of par 4s that are over 400 yards that you won't be reaching with those distances either. So that's 3 or 4 greens you can't reach without even hitting a bad shot.

Now remember that the PGA average for hitting the green from 150 yards out while in the fairway is only 75%. So even if you reach that level you're probably going to miss the green another 3 or 4 times per round. Again this is still without putting a ball into the trees, or the water or out of bounds.

Without a very good short game and dynamite putting you're no where near playing to par.

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Roughly, you need 18 4s.

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Originally Posted by pipergsm

I believe many golfers make golf more complicated than it is.

I'm not saying golf is an easy game, on the contrary!

However, many golfers have the wrong idea about what is needed to play good golf.

Do you need 300 yards distance with the driver?                  NO

Do you need to be perfect at chipping and putting?               NO

Do you need perfect control over all the clubs in your bag?    NO

So what do you need?

Well, pure mathematically and theoretically, here's what you do need.

1)  you need to be able to hit your driver and irons (6 through 9) straight, consistently.

This might be a little more difficult for the driver, but not so much for the irons.

Keep in mind that accuracy (direction) is more important than distance. Your practice should ALWAYS focus on accuracy,

until your accuracy has reached +80%

2)  you need to know the normal distance range for your clubs, and the possible deviation for your irons should not be more

than about 10 yards (see required distances below)

3)  Required clubs to play par on a medium distance course: Driver - irons (6-7-8-9) - SW - PW - putter

Notice the absence of fairway woods. They are more difficult to master than irons and not necessary on

medium distance courses.

4)  required distances:    Driver    240      yards

I-9       110-125 yards

I-8       125-135 yards

I-7       140-150 yards

I-6       155-165 yards

PW        70-90 yards       full swing

SW          60 yards          full swing

Most male golfers (-60) should be able to reach these distances. If you're a little shorter, just add the 5-iron!

Just do the math: on a medium distance course, the longest par 5 will be around 560 yards.

if you're able to hit your driver and irons straight you need a 240 yards drive, 2 shots with your 6-iron

(160+160) and you're on the green in 3. Any hole on this course could give you a birdie possibility.

All you need is ACCURACY.

5)  for PW and SW, you must be able to hit 3 different distances consistently: 20-30 yards, 40-50 yards and

when you master these 3 distances, any other required distance (10yds, 15 yds,...) is within your capability.

Mastering these 3 distances is easier than it seems. It took me only 2 lessons and about 4 hours of practice!

Here too, accuracy (direction) is of the highest priority off course.

6)  For the putter, you should focus your practice on these distances: 3 feet, 6 feet, 9 feet, 12 feet.

Once you're on the green and more than 6 feet from the hole, your primary goal is NOT to make the put, but to bring the ball

as close as possible to the hole, at least within 6 feet, so you can 2-put.

3 feet: +85% should be made

6 feet: +70% should be made

Always focus on 2-putting!!!

If you focus your practice on acquiring these 6 abilities, you should be able to play par (or very near) on most medium distance courses.

General strategy: avoid bunkers at all cost!

when faced with a bunker in front of the green, you have 2 options: aim for the back of the green

(know the distance for each club!!!), or put it just

in front of the bunker and chip it as close as possible to the pin. You may loose 1 stroke, but ending up in the

bunker will probably cost you 2 strokes or more!

I'm curious. On what do you base this? Have you ever played a round of golf in even par? Broken 80?  90?

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This whole thread is kinda silly. A beginner teaching everyone how to play scratch golf. Thanks for the advice Chachi but I think I'll listen to The Fonz.
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What is the point of this thread? You need distance, accuracy, short game and putting to play to par, that is now news. Saying "All you need is ACCURACY" is stupid. Nobody hits their clubs the ideal distance within a few yards margin every time. It is also a matter of what you are aiming for. If you get the driver up to 270 yards, you could perhaps hit a 9 iron instead of the 6 iron, greatly improving the chance of actually hitting the green. You're making it sound like playing to par is easy. You just hit it 240 yards with the driver then 160 yards with the 6 iron and two putt for par. Good luck with that if your swing is not consistent. I'd rather be in a bunker than in the fairway or rough around it.
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Originally Posted by Mordan

I've played with good golfers who hit those sort of distances, but they tend to top out around the mid single figures range. And those guys are deadly inside 100 yards and on the greens.

Every medium distance course I've played has at least one and often two par 3s that you won't reach with your 160 yard 6 iron. And a couple of par 4s that are over 400 yards that you won't be reaching with those distances either. So that's 3 or 4 greens you can't reach without even hitting a bad shot.

Now remember that the PGA average for hitting the green from 150 yards out while in the fairway is only 75%. So even if you reach that level you're probably going to miss the green another 3 or 4 times per round. Again this is still without putting a ball into the trees, or the water or out of bounds.

Without a very good short game and dynamite putting you're no where near playing to par.

Anything from 170 to 220, I can hit it with my driver, straight: ACCURACY! so no real problem for the par 3's, unless there's a bunker just in front of the green.

Par 4 over 400 yards?  430 perhaps?     240 + 160 = 400, from 30 yards, your SW should be able to drop the ball within 3-4 yards (9-12 feet) from the pin.

Agreed, it's gonna be difficult for par, but there should also be some holes allowing you to make birdie.

Look, I'm not saying these distances will get you par every time you play, but at the very least, it should make you a low handicapper.

Remember, ACCURACY is the key here!

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I'd rather be in a bunker than in the fairway or rough around it.

Me too. I think most good bunker players would prefer that. Heck the pros AIM for the bunkers on some holes. Saying that being in the bunker will lose you two strokes just means you haven't learned how to hit out if bunkers.

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Originally Posted by pipergsm

Anything from 170 to 220, I can hit it with my driver, straight: ACCURACY! so no real problem for the par 3's, unless there's a bunker just in front of the green.

Par 4 over 400 yards?  430 perhaps?     240 + 160 = 400, from 30 yards, your SW should be able to drop the ball within 3-4 yards (9-12 feet) from the pin.

Agreed, it's gonna be difficult for par, but there should also be some holes allowing you to make birdie.

Look, I'm not saying these distances will get you par every time you play, but at the very least, it should make you a low handicapper.

Remember, ACCURACY is the key here!

Please take this in the spirit of helpfulness that's intended......    You might gain more credibility in your posts if you wait until you are a low handicapper, before trying to teach others how to become one.

Now, having said that, if your intention is to troll and simply stir the pot, you're off to a great start.

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Remember, ACCURACY is the key here!

Obviously, and in theory it sounds pretty simple. That is before you introduce all the errors, bad shots, mishits, lack of consistency etc. into the equation. You're pretty much stating the obvious, which doesn't say anything about how you're going to get to a point where you can actually perform like in theory. Football is a pretty simple game too. You just get hold of the ball and kick it into the opponent's goal. Distance is hardly an issue, you just have to get it between the poles.

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Off course it's better if you have more distance and a few more tricks in your bag!

All I'm saying is: it's possible with only this.

I'm not saying this will make you "a scratch player", but it will enable you to play par from time to time.

These are the principles I base my practice upon, and it's working.

After only 125 hours of practice (1 year), and with a wrist injury currently screwing up my drives, I just played 43 on a 9-hole par 36, using only my driver, 7-iron, SW and putter, And I'm quite sure I can take of another 4-5 strokes in the coming weeks.

Call me crazy, but so far, the results are proving I'm right!

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Originally Posted by Zeph

Obviously, and in theory it sounds pretty simple. That is before you introduce all the errors, bad shots, mishits, lack of consistency etc. into the equation. You're pretty much stating the obvious, which doesn't say anything about how you're going to get to a point where you can actually perform like in theory.

Football is a pretty simple game too. You just get hold of the ball and kick it into the opponent's goal. Distance is hardly an issue, you just have to get it between the poles.

This. Years ago, when I got serious about my golf game, I used to think if I just practiced hard enough that I could turn myself into a machine. Always hit it straight and far. Fairways and greens. Impossible to play bad golf if you just hit fairways and greens right? Reality is that there will always be bad shots, mishits, bad bounces, windy conditions, and putts simply not rolling into the hole.   You have to be able to get up and down. In my opinion, that's the most important part of playing scratch. The biggest difference between a scratch golfer and myself is that he saves par more often than I do when we miss the green.

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I'll make it even simpler: to play good golf, you have to get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible.

Get the ball in the hole sooner than you do now, and you'll shoot lower scores!

Piper, I appreciate the attempt, but c'mon: what the others are saying holds true. When you can hit the ball pretty solidly EVERY time and with accuracy EVERY time, then you can be a scratch golfer, yes. But that's hardly a secret, and it sounds funny coming from someone who is bragging about shooting +7 on nine holes.

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I can't wait for Shorty to weigh in. Get the popcorn ready.

You are correct about one thing, accurate ball striking is the key to lowering scores. We have debated that ad naseum. But I have to agree with Mordan. Your distances are more akin to a high single digit handicapper, not someone who is going to get close to par. I don't have a lot of time to respond but some of this is ill advised. Let's just take putting. Your goal is not to get it within 6 feet because you are not going to make +70%. Justin Leonard is averaging 56.6% inside 5 feet and leads the Tour. Hitting driver-6-6 is not going to hit the green a high percentage of the time either. There are not too many guys that have the ability to shoot par that wouldn't at least consider hitting a hybrid versus not going above a 6 iron. You can avoid bunkers all you want, and maybe your up and down percentage is higher than your sand percentage, but if you want to lower your scores, you cannot be afraid of bunkers. To shoot par, you will need to birdie a couple of holes, and you need to have the ability to get aggressive. Laying up in front of a bunker is not going to yield many birdies.

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Originally Posted by iacas

I'll make it even simpler: to play good golf, you have to get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible.

Get the ball in the hole sooner than you do now, and you'll shoot lower scores!

Piper, I appreciate the attempt, but c'mon: what the others are saying holds true. When you can hit the ball pretty solidly EVERY time and with accuracy EVERY time, then you can be a scratch golfer, yes. But that's hardly a secret, and it sounds funny coming from someone who is bragging about shooting +7 on nine holes.

WOW guys, please read exactly (and everything) what I write and interpret it the right way!!!

I'm not saying It's easy to do and I'm not saying I'm there already!!!

I agree with what most of you are saying.

I just believe that many amateur golfers are not practicing the right way and focusing on the wrong things.

Many of them don't even "really" practice, and yet they wonder why they're not improving!

Playing rounds, while necessary to improve, is not really practicing!!!

Hitting 3 trays of balls a day (or more), only 2 or 3 times a month, without even analyzing each bad shot you make is a waste of time!

Trying to drive it far without any control of direction, is a waste of time, and it's obvious many golfers are doing just that!

Ever since I started golf (about 1 year ago), I've been focusing on accuracy and consistency, and I can honestly say I'm getting there.

Something that really helps, but very few people do it, is to keep on visualizing every detail of your set-up, back swing, down swing, chip shot, bunker shot, for several hours AFTER you finished practicing on the driving range. Doing this will help your brain to truly "burn" this into your memory, making it more easy to reproduce the shots.

And I'm not "bragging" about playing +7 on a 9-hole. Please understand where I'm coming from.

3 weeks ago, due to a lack of time to practice, I was still playing 60 - 65 on that same 9-holes course!

After only 16 days of intensive and focused practice (about 50 hours), I managed to get this down to 43, and I'm ready to bet that within the next 7 weeks (I'm having a long holiday), I will play under 40 regularly, which would make me a single digit handicapper after only 150 hours of focused practice.

Knowing what my shortcomings are and doing something about it, I'm also willing to bet that, within 3-6 months, I will have played par (on my local course) at least once., and believe me, I am definitely NOT some super talent!

If I can do this, other people can do it too!

All they need is the right way of training and focus.

By the way, my distances are longer than what I put in the list. Those numbers are just meant to give some general idea.

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As for my putting: I just made 2 putts from 30 feet in subsequent holes, and I almost never 3-put from within 20 feet.

I estimate that my 6-foot putts currently have about 60% success rate and expect this to increase in the coming weeks.

I'm not talking about Tour-courses here (+7.000 yards), but about normal difficulty level, medium distance courses (6.400 - 6.800 yards).

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In my case course conditions are also a major factor. I mishit a lot, yeah, but with a good stroke in current Colorado conditions most people need to land the ball short of the green and have it roll up. And how is one supposed to do that when there is a hazard in front of the green or sizeable greenside hills? So it does in fact come down to the short game.

I'm going to blame mostly my shots within 100 yards for the fact that I'm a 16 handicap and not lower. Taking an average of my last several rounds, I shot an average 88 strokes (par 72), and 54 of them were 100 yards and in. About 50 of those are 50 yards and in. See I'm taking just below an average 3 shots to get it in from around the green. If I got that much closer to 2 shots on average, I would be shooting par!

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Originally Posted by pipergsm

I'm not saying It's easy to do and I'm not saying I'm there already!!!

I agree with what most of you are saying.

I just believe that many amateur golfers are not practicing the right way and focusing on the wrong things.

Many of them don't even "really" practice, and yet they wonder why they're not improving!

Playing rounds, while necessary to improve, is not really practicing!!!

Hitting 3 trays of balls a day (or more), only 2 or 3 times a month, without even analyzing each bad shot you make is a waste of time!

Trying to drive it far without any control of direction, is a waste of time, and it's obvious many golfers are doing just that!

Ever since I started golf (about 1 year ago), I've been focusing on accuracy and consistency, and I can honestly say I'm getting there.

Something that really helps, but very few people do it, is to keep on visualizing every detail of your set-up, back swing, down swing, chip shot, bunker shot, for several hours AFTER you finished practicing on the driving range. Doing this will help your brain to truly "burn" this into your memory, making it more easy to reproduce the shots.

The point people are making is that this advice you're offering means more and comes off better when you're not a bogey golfer.

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