Originally Posted by Wisguy
The highlighted portion of your statement above is simply wrong (well, to honest, most of what you are saying is wrong) and it puzzles me why someone who claims to have as much experience as you allege can be so oblivious to the realities of playing golf - in the real world, there are more factors that influence scoring than having precision in ball striking, as you assert. Course management (i.e. hitting dumber, riskier shots instead of safe ones) can easily be responsible for a 10+-shot swing in score on a bad day for a higher handicap player and will account for at least several strokes even on a decent day.
KW, the problem with your argument is that it makes a number of inaccurate assumptions. It assumes that higher handicappers have the same problems with all of their clubs and that those same problems would lead to the same bad results no matter what. As Dave mentioned above, no one is slicing a 7-iron two fairways over, as they might do with a driver. A typical higher handicapper might very easily, on a bad driving day, slice 5+ balls into the woods, in a lake, or OB using a driver but would make fewer bad shots with an iron and with those iron tee shots that are poorly struck, he would be able to find and play most if not all of them. Five lost balls - that's a whole lot of strokes lost, far more than would be accounted for by having to hit three shots to get on a par-4 or four shots to get on to a par-5; higher handicap players are only hitting at most a few GIR a round, so they'd still likely be pitching or chipping their third or fourth shots anyway. Plus, for every ball sliced 150 yards to the right that is playable and not lost, figure at least one extra shot to get it back in play; if the fairways are separated by a line of trees (very common on most of the courses that I've played), that could easily add up to several more shots dealing with shots into trees. Think about the times you hit to lay up versus when you are going for the green on a long shot where you'll have to hit hard - which one do you hit more successfully? I bet I am at least 3x more likely to hit an easy swing shot 100-150 yards out onto the fairway in my target layup area than get within easy chipping distance when the green is over 200 yards away. Playing mid-irons off the tee would be the same thing, a nice easy swing is a more accurate swing. Have you ever seen a shot dispersion study? The longer the club, the farther it will be hitting from center of the fairway on average.
You are also assuming that all par-4s are much longer than they tend to be playing from the white tees - I'd say the average par-4 is about 360yds, not 400 yards, and the average high handicapper is hitting a 400+ yard hole in regulation no more than once out of four or five tries at the most, anyway. Two reasonable 7-irons in a row will put me about 300-320 out, with a 40-60 yard pitch, not a difficult shot (at least not difficult to hit a green - getting it within one-putt range is a different story with a less-than-full swing).
No offense, but if course management is accounting for 10 strokes in your game you are either completely wasted, high, or a moron. Course management might account for 1 stroke in an 18 hole round for me where I got a little too aggressive on a chip or a putt. 10 strokes? When I get in a bad position around the green its because I didnt hit my approach shot how I want (ball striking) which leads to bogey or double.
Also, you say your a 26 HCP, if so I am not buying that you can hit 2 reasonable 7 irons in a row consistently, also not buying you will consistently hit a 40-60 yard pitch on the green consistently. So lets assume you hit a good one off the tee and muff your 2nd in the fairway, then you hit your 3rd one well and are 30 yards from the green. You leave your 30 yard chip short or go long, chip on and 2-3 putt. You just got a 7 to an 8 on that hole.
No one who plays consistently hits 5 OB drives a round, thats like person who plays 5 times a year type of thing. So lets say you hit your drive 220 into the rough, you muff your second (or a short punch out from behind a tree) and hit a good 3rd to within short chipping range of the green. You chip on a 2-3 putt. You doubled to tripled. Do that several times and you saved several strokes over the conservative method. Sure you might hit some OB drives, but I bet you will muff some 7 iron tee shots 20 yards as well.