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game management.....

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I've been thinking lately about my game and the rounds I've played and the scores I've posted.  I'm practicing quite a bit in all aspects of my game and I know that I have improved a lot over the winter in virtually all aspects of my game.  I know this because I can see the improvement in my range sessions and in certain shots that I hit during rounds.  My statistics also show that I have improved as my FIR, GIR, and putts per round have all improved since last year.  My scoring and overall score has not improved at the same rate as my other stats.  Obviously there are so many factors that can prohibit level improvement compared to certain stats, but I can just tell that I should be scoring better.  So this got me to thinking about how I manage my round.  I'm pretty sure that my course management skills are poor and with improvement in decisions that I make during the round, this should improve my scores. 

 

Specifically, I believe the problem is with second/third shots on holes, particularly the long par 4's and on par 5's.  I believe that it's an issue when I cannot "comfortably" reach the green with my shot.  For me in the average conditions for this time of year, the yardage where I would say this starts to be an issue is from 175+ yards out.  From yardages under that, I can usually hit a pretty good shot and get around the green. 

 

Here's an example that happens quite often.....on one of the par 5's at my course, I will hit a drive and will be left with 250 or sometimes more yards to the green after my drive.  Sometimes I'm in the fairway, sometimes not.  Regardless, it's still too far for me to reach in two at that yardage whether I'm in the short grass or in the rough.  While I cannot get there I still try to get as much yardage as I can and many times this results in me hitting a 3 wood.  I hit that club okay, not great and not that bad.  Because most of the par 5's play uphill and into the wind at my club, even if I hit the 3 wood really solid (which does not happen all the time), I'm left with an approach shot that can sometimes still be more than 150 yards.  If I hit a duff, then I can still be out from over 200 for my third shot.......I think that I am attacking this the wrong way and instead should hit the club that I have the best chance of making solid contact with and getting some distance out of.  Maybe a 5 or 6 iron for my second shot instead of 3W or 2H?  I'm not going to get there anyway and the chances are better that I will make more solid contact with an iron.  Does this make sense?  Should I do this or am I nuts and should hit the wood?

 

This also happens on long par 4's too.  I will sometimes have 200 or more yards to the green.  Again, I can hit 3 wood and if I really get it good then I have a small chance of getting on the green.  Since the chance is so small of getting on the green but the chance is high that I will hit a poor shot, I'm thinking that it makes more sense to play that situation as a green that I get on in 3 instead of 2, even though it's a par 4. 

 

I'm hoping that this strategy will eliminate those handful of bad shots that I seem to give away in rounds.  My playing partners may call me a wuss but I would rather score better and be a wuss then hit low percentage shots.  Your feedback/advice is greatly appreciated. 

post #2 of 23

Interestingly, your game sounds a lot like mine.  Here's what I do when faced with similar par-5 and par-4 holes where long shots are required.

 

1.  I have a good wedge set and regularly practice shots from 60-110 (or so) yards from the green and feel very confident with a PW, AW, SW or LW in my hand.  When a drive on a long par-5 is either good or not so good, in fairway or rough, my go-to club is a 5-hybrid. This club always gets me to wedge range where I'm comfortable.  Hit a good one and have chance at birdie.  Hit a bad one and I can still get up and down for par or bogey at worst.  Yanking out a 3-wood would be my LAST option.

 

2.  Long par 4s.  I'll always pull out the right club based on distance to the green.  At worse, I'm going to be in that wedge range and likely make bogey.  At best, I'll miss the green left or right and still have a chance at par with an up and down if close to the green.  Again, I'm playing those long holes for at worst a bogey.

 

Golf is so much a game of limiting mistakes.  Thinking your going to hit that 'hero shot' opens up a can of worms that leads to doubles or worse many times.

 

Best advice I give myself is to stay within my game and play to my strong suit which is  wedges and short game.  When I don't have a realistic shot at the green, I use my next shot to setup the best part of my game.

 

dave

post #3 of 23

If you have 250 for two shots to the green of a par 5, why hit a 3 wood? That makes no sense, thats more for the longhitting low cappers. You could hit an i8 and then a i9 (or something like that) and be on the green in three.  Depends on the distance you like the most for your approach-shot. I like 110 yard for that. So when I have 310 left, I would try to play my Hy3 and than the I9. Less distance Hy4 and than I9, I5 and.....

 

For a long par 4 and you got 200 left, I would play the Hy3, cause I know I will be on the green or near it. But not when there is danger like water on the left or when you hit it short. Than twice the PW. 220 left, I would be tempted to play the 3 wood, probably do it and in 80% of the shots would not be happy.d1_bigcry.gif

post #4 of 23

I've always thought that if you aren't comfy with your fairway woods (I love mine, it's my short game that stinks), then you need to figure out what your best approach shot is -

 

So if you're 250 out and that's a bit long get comfortably tight:

 

If you are great with the 9i at 135 yards, hit it twice

If you are great with that full swing SW at 100 yards, hit the 8i and set up for it

 

the worst is you hit the set up shot thick and short and are still left with a 5i or shorter....

 

 

me?  I'll hit a really good 3w, and leave a short chip - then.....I don't know if I should chip, pitch or whatever....so I blade my next shot over the top anyway and scramble back.  (sometimes)  The short is, sometimes a nice 100 yard pitch to the green is a better choice than playing a touchy lob from closer....depends on your strengths.  (frankly, I should get lessons on the short stuff so my good fairway wood play can pay off - until then, I really like full swings between 100 and 150 and should really set up for that until the lesson pay off)
 

 

I've played my par 5's a few times in practice with two balls for the second shot (when it's in a place I'm considering the wood) - 1st counts, I hit the fairway wood.  2nd for info I hit the 5i and see where it leaves me.  Right now, it's a wash for me until I clean up my 50yd and in game - your mileage might vary.  Have you tried that?

post #5 of 23
Some really good advice here already. Playing to your strenghts is really important. If you are like rehmwa and you hit two balls to see which option will give you the best result and it ends up being a wash then it doesn't matter. But if you do have a significant strength, choosing the strategy that puts those shots in your hand more often will really change your score like Dave s does.

Also, chosing a club that you feel like you can make solid contact with will do wonders for your confidence as well. Hitting a 3W from the rough is a tough one but if you hit a 5i or 7i you can make better contact. Hitting a good solid shot boosts your confidence for the next shot to the green.
post #6 of 23

The strategy mentioned is similar to mine.  When I play golf, it is me against par.  My appraoch is to first and foremost, Keep the ball in Play.  Next is to create a scoring opportunity. Last is not follow one mistake with another.  If on the tee I know that I can't reach the green in regulation or that I have an even chance of taking the ball out of play, I go with less club, one that positions me for the next shot.  If I am going to lay up on 5 pars, what is the need for a driver if there is a chance I may be out of play, fairway wood or hybrid.  I choose to lay up most times to a full club out.  So quite often I may hit a fairway wood followed by a 6 or 7 iron leaving 100 yards to a 5 par.  I also tend to play to the middle of the green unless it is tiered, then I play to back or front.  If it is a par 4 that I can't reach in regulation, same rules apply, take the dull easy shots.  Now there are occassions that instead of a lay up to a full club I will go for a shorter distance, but it has to be one where the opportunity to score matches my playing for that day.

 

This approach has basically eliminate penalty strokes from my playing as well as few bunkers and those are only around the green.  My GIRs have increased and even the misses are a better than even odds of getting up and down.  Makes for lower scores, enjoyable round.

post #7 of 23

If there is big trouble around the green, I lay up 90% of the time from 240 plus. But I always pick a spot/yardage from which to hit my next shot. 

 

Never just "hit it closer" as your layup. Aim for that 120 yd go to shot....or whatever your fave is!

 

But if there isn't OB or Water or the San Andreas fault....go for it. Bunkers are easy once you figure them out! You never know when that next Eagle is coming!

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 

Update:  well I tried my new strategy out this past weekend.  While you would know it from looking at my scores, I definitely saw a difference and big time improvement.  I think that what also helped was that I may have finally found a 3wood that I really like and can hit well.  I had recently purchased a new 3w, it's a Rocketballz 14.5 degree "tour spoon".  I was getting much more distance out of it than my previous 3 woods.  It was really impressive off the tee as it was very accurate and the distance loss from using a 3w from the tee instead of a driver was not as much as it had been in the past. 

 

On Sunday I decided that I would not hit my 3w for any shots other than tee shots.  Even with balls in the fairway, I sometimes have trouble hitting a 3w as well as I should.  Part of this is because sometimes the lie is not flat and I struggle with that.  Instead I hit my 2h.  I played so much smarter this weekend and it felt a lot better.  For example, on the 4th hole at my country club, a par 4 that plays about 380, I hit a drive that I pushed way right.  I was behind a large evergreen tree and I could have taken a very risky shot to the green but I would have had to hit it perfectly from about 180 out, over water, and while missing trees in the process.  Instead I used a 5 iron and instead of just chopping out into the fairway, I played a slice around the tree but that still went some distance.  It was still safe but also got me some distance in the process.  I pulled the shot off great and ended up with a 40 yard pitch from the fairway.  Since I have been working a lot on my short game recently and "hinging my wrists" on these shots, I hit a great shot that ended up 6 feet from the cup.  I one putted and got out of there with an unlikely par, all because I played a safe shot and took what I could get out of the situation without pushing it.

 

Unfortunately I putted as bad as I probably ever have this past weekend.  I had more putts for par and birdie than I ever had but because of my poor putting, I shot an average score both days for me despite the improvements in ball striking. 

 

While far from perfect, I think that the strategy that I used this past weekend is the right one and I plan to keep at it.  Thanks to everyone for their advice.  It was a bit weird at first standing over the ball before my shot and thinking not just where I want to hit it but also for the first time contemplating where I can miss this and having that factor into my decision for my shot. 

post #9 of 23

Risk/reward factor.....

 

Do I stand a better chance at Par or better if I hit the wood? Do I significantly increase the possibility of Bogey or worse if I hit the wood?

 

The guys I golf with often will take out their 3 wood no matter what the lie on par 5s/long par 4s.

 

For me, I take into account where the pin is located first. If the pin is tucked tight to the front of the green and well bunkered, I like my chances of Par or better if I hit a full wedge with spin from the fairway. It's that versus a chip/pitch shot from rough to a pin tight behind a bunker if I hit the fairway wood.

 

If the green is open or the pin is middle or back, I'll take the fairway wood as long as I'm not significantly increasing my chance of Bogey or worse.

 

It's good that you're thinking about this stuff and shows you're realizing there's a lot of strategy to this game.

post #10 of 23

Hit it to the distances you can control and are accurate with. If you hit a driver, 5iron, 60wedge and 1 putt, its the same as the driver, 3 wood, 2 putt. I dont hit the ball long at all, and I play alot of par 4's as 3 shot holes. I have spent so much time on my short game that I am confident enough that I can get up and down from 100 and in most of the time ( i dont always, but I am more comfortable doing that then trying to hit a 230 yard three wood accurate). It makes no sense to hit a club you cant control when you have clubs you can control,especially if it is 175 and in. Take yourpar 5, if you are 250 yards from the green on your second, if you hit that 175 club, you are 75 yards out and have a better chance at getting it on and 2 putting for par, or getting it close and making the putt for birdie. Why even entertain the thought of going outside your comfort zone, doesnt seem to be anything to gain? I can tell you this, I play with a bunch of guys that hit it WAY farther than me. My best friend used to compete in long Drive and he will out drive me by 100 yards so times, but he has no short game and I do. I still beat him 90%of the time. It takes mental toughness and will power to stick to your game plan. Who cares what the next guy is doing, play your game, play the golf course. LukeDonald is a great example, short hitter but he plays to his strengths and he spent a year as the world number one.

post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjwestner View Post

 I had recently purchased a new 3w, it's a Rocketballz 14.5 degree "tour spoon"

 

Oh, I so approve of this new purchase! Congrats on the Tour Spoon! 

 

Sincerely, 

 

TourSpoon

post #12 of 23

A long time ago, there was a show on Golf Channel were a teaching pro would play 9 holes with an amateur and observe his game.  The teaching pro would then share a game plan for improvement with the amateur and they'd have a much more interactive 2nd nine where thought process AHEAD of shots was shared with the pro making the amateur play his shot choice instead of the player's shot.

 

At the end of the show, the message was always clear:  Amateurs WAY overestimate their shot making ability;  Amateurs take costly risks that add up to big numbers on holes; Amateurs attempt the 'hero shot' thinking birdie and don't consider more realistic shots to help save par.

 

A round with a usual hack was like 52 on his own and a 44 using the teaching pro's advice after only seeing a guy once and for 9 holes on his own.

 

Golf is REALLY hard to get good at.  This is why I agree so much with limiting unforced errors, taking advantage of your strengths as a player and staying away from what we don't do well if at all possible.

 

Glad the OP saw some scorecard improvement from thinking his way around the course a little better.  I'd much rather have birdie and par opportunities than look at a card with a few 7s and an 8 or two on it while kicking myself in the arse for playing stupidly!!!

 

Now, if the freakin' weather would ever break around here, I could get on with some pre-league practice sessions!

 

dave

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave s View Post

A long time ago, there was a show on Golf Channel were a teaching pro would play 9 holes with an amateur and observe his game.  The teaching pro would then share a game plan for improvement with the amateur and they'd have a much more interactive 2nd nine where thought process AHEAD of shots was shared with the pro making the amateur play his shot choice instead of the player's shot.

 

At the end of the show, the message was always clear:  Amateurs WAY overestimate their shot making ability;  Amateurs take costly risks that add up to big numbers on holes; Amateurs attempt the 'hero shot' thinking birdie and don't consider more realistic shots to help save par.

 

A round with a usual hack was like 52 on his own and a 44 using the teaching pro's advice after only seeing a guy once and for 9 holes on his own.

 

Golf is REALLY hard to get good at.  This is why I agree so much with limiting unforced errors, taking advantage of your strengths as a player and staying away from what we don't do well if at all possible.

 

Glad the OP saw some scorecard improvement from thinking his way around the course a little better.  I'd much rather have birdie and par opportunities than look at a card with a few 7s and an 8 or two on it while kicking myself in the arse for playing stupidly!!!

 

Now, if the freakin' weather would ever break around here, I could get on with some pre-league practice sessions!

 

dave

 

 

Thanks Dave!  The course I usually play is pretty tough in that there are a lot of uneven lies.  Thus I always seem to have at least 5 shots or so per round where I hit horribly.  It used to be more shots per round (like closer to 10), but over time I've been reducing them.  Now I'm at a point where if I play my best, I can shoot an 80 or in the low 80's probably.  Thus there is not much "fat" to ween off of my game like there was last summer when I had just started playing golf.  Since nobody hits every shot perfect and everyone experiences several shots per round that are hit poorly, I've realized that to improve I simply have to improve those poor shots so that even if they are terrible, at least they still go somewhere.  That is what got me to thinking about club selection on certain shots, especially on shots where I cannot get to the green and on shots where the lie is uneven.

 

I guess what I am going through in trying to improve is the difference usually between myself (14 hc) and a single digit handicap.  It's those longer shots that are 170 - 220 yards out.....I play with some really good golfers that are low single digits and they have no problem with those shots.  I do.  Other people that I play with that have close to 20hc have even more trouble with those shots than I do.  I'm thinking that once I can hit those shots consistently from uneven lies and get consistent distance that my hc will improve quite a bit.  And in the meantime, I continue to work on my short game because nobody (except maybe Luke Donald) can not benefit from short game improvements!

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjwestner View Post

 

 

It's those longer shots that are 170 - 220 yards out.....I play with some really good golfers that are low single digits and they have no problem with those shots.  I do.

 

This the most difficult area of my game as well.  When you compare the yardages, tour pros are hitting 8i - 5i for those distances.  For me those yardages would be 4 or 5 hybrid - 3w and a prayer!  Big difference in success rate of a shot with an 8i compared to a 5 hybrid for anybody.

 

dave

post #15 of 23
Tee shots I find have always been the easiest part of the game. Most of us usually start out hitting driver regardless. I did for a couple of years.
Switched to hitting a hybrid. Lost virtually no halls since I did and only now have I added a 3W to hit. Worked hard on my chipping and pitching so now I'm getting very good at distances in the 50-120 range.

As the OP says though its the second shot that is my undoing. Sometimes its hard to refuse a chance at a GIR. Its not that I can't hit the distance but the probability that I will hit it sweet.
Much better to go with a 5-6 iron to set up an approach from wedge range. You can take bunkers out of play and I found after my last round that if you end up around the green after going for it some of lies are truly awful
The amount of times I ended up sat on dead leaves or in a small hole in the grass. These were literally feet from the green.

Take the fairway and it will shave strokes.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjwestner View Post

 

 

Thanks Dave!  The course I usually play is pretty tough in that there are a lot of uneven lies.  Thus I always seem to have at least 5 shots or so per round where I hit horribly.  It used to be more shots per round (like closer to 10), but over time I've been reducing them.  Now I'm at a point where if I play my best, I can shoot an 80 or in the low 80's probably.  Thus there is not much "fat" to ween off of my game like there was last summer when I had just started playing golf.  Since nobody hits every shot perfect and everyone experiences several shots per round that are hit poorly, I've realized that to improve I simply have to improve those poor shots so that even if they are terrible, at least they still go somewhere.  That is what got me to thinking about club selection on certain shots, especially on shots where I cannot get to the green and on shots where the lie is uneven.

 

I guess what I am going through in trying to improve is the difference usually between myself (14 hc) and a single digit handicap.  It's those longer shots that are 170 - 220 yards out.....I play with some really good golfers that are low single digits and they have no problem with those shots.  I do.  Other people that I play with that have close to 20hc have even more trouble with those shots than I do.  I'm thinking that once I can hit those shots consistently from uneven lies and get consistent distance that my hc will improve quite a bit.  And in the meantime, I continue to work on my short game because nobody (except maybe Luke Donald) can not benefit from short game improvements!

 

There is an excellent book called the Elements of Scoring by Raymond Floyd that is all about these kinds of course management decisions.  There is a thread on it in the Reading Room forum you might want to check out.  One of his tenets is to play comfortable.  Play the shot you know you can pull off reliably.  Another is, if you find yourself in trouble, make sure you aren't in trouble after your next shot.i.e., make sure you get out of trouble. 

 

http://thesandtrap.com/t/44538/the-elements-of-scoring-by-ray-floyd

post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks turtleback, I am going to have to check that book out!

 

I'm convinced that the second shot is the biggest difference between scratch golfers/low hc golfers versus golfers that have higher handicaps.  I do not have the data to prove it, but I suspect that as the handicap goes up, the golfer is less consistent in hitting shots of 150 yards to 250 yards specifically.  I'm sure that there are exceptions to this, but I'm pretty sure that it would apply to a majority of golfers.

 

Everyone has "goals" that they want to accomplish for the upcoming season.....my good friend that I play with every weekend at my club has specific goals for the season.  He's 45 years old and has been playing for several years now.  He's about a 20 hc.  He enjoys playing as much as I do but also has a life (to which I basically don't and thus why I am always researching and reading about golf).  He asked me recently what my goals were?  I told him that I want to be able to hit as many greens in regulation as I can consistently.  That's all that matters to me at this point. 

 

After playing golf for almost 10 months now, I've read a lot of books, articles, etc. about how to get better at golf.  There is so much crap out there that people (including myself) have bought into.  Well no more snake oil for me, I'm 100% convinced that at my level and for most people out there that have handicaps of 10 and higher, the single best way that you can improve your hc is by hitting more GIR.  Having a great short game is important, but it's not as important if you can hit lots of GIR. 

 

 

 

I've been practicing what I've preached so far since I started this thread.  This past weekend I played pretty well, shooting 87 on Saturday and Sunday.  It was far from perfect and I still had some bad shots, but at least I managed the game much better than I did before.  Until I improve to the point where I am hitting more GIR, game management is more important in my opinion.  Right now since I'm only hitting an average of 5 GIR per round, it makes game management that more important for me. 

post #18 of 23
Hey bj,

Just curious what course youre playing at?
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