I think this statement is the fundamental difference between you and I. Your strategy is fine for a bogey golfer who is playing in a tournament or other event where there is something of significance to gain. In fact, when the score counts for more than just my handicap, I typically employ the "safe" strategy. But my goal is not just to minimize my score with my current skill set. It's to minimize my score with a BETTER skill set and I don't think you can improve your skill set by always playing the safe shots and safe strategy...
I also don't think you can improve your skill set with just range practice. At least, I know that to be the case for me...
Yeah, at least it looks like we mostly agree that these strategies will actually result in a lower score, and that is all I was trying to point out. I like to play a competition as often as I can - which is usually a $2 nassau. But I consider golf to be a game or a sport and I don't want to lose every time.
As for playing with a better skill set, I'll leave it to the coaching types to say what is the best way to develop. Maybe being a 20 cap and employing the strategy of a 5 cap is the best thing for our game - not sure.
But I certainly ENJOY shooting an 85 more than a 95. And I enjoy beating my buddies or placing in tourneys when it happens.
I also don't have any proof yet that employing the 5 cap strategy is really that good for our game. If someone - notably one of the coaching types - has some info on that, I could certainly be convinced. And I'd try to do what was best for that development.
As far as not being able to improve your skillset with range practice and while employing stroke saving atrategies while in a match - yak squeeze. I see your point about the range. No it isn't the course. And I see your point about pulling off shots on the course in game day conditions. There is definitely merit to that. And we might have to do a little digging to get to exactly what degree and at what stage these things take on maximum effectiveness.
But to say "I dont think you can improve your skill set with just going to the range"? Of course you can. You can get better at ballstriking, distance, touch, drawing, fading, high shots, knock down shots, flop shots and everything else and never set foot on a golf course.
Now, taking those concepts and transporting them to the course for practice is certainly one of the steps in getting better pulling them off on the course. I totally get that. But we might disagree on when to debut that 210 yard shot to a green guarded by sand and water - or whatever shot is a low percentage play for us hackers.
I guess maybe I'm trying to have it all - stroke saving strategies AND development. And maybe I'm asking too much. Once again a question for the coaches. But I tend to incorporate things when they have become somewhat reliable on the range first.
For example, After an initial few months of poison ivy, scuba diving and frustration, I went to irons only and immediately quit scoring over 100. Then practiced hybrid at the range until it was more consistent for tee shots. I then added it back for some wide fairway holes. When that got better, a little bit skinnier holes. The scores started to drop some more. Meantime I was working on more 3 wood at the range. When it looked better I then incorporated it for those really wide fairways and hybrid kept getting more use on the more difficult holes. Etc. Etc. And insert same story for whatever approach shots or whatever else.
The point is, of course I didn't just go to irons only and stay there forever because it dropped my scores. I practiced on the range and then incorporated things when they just barely became a good percentage shot and kinda riding the line there. And it was shaky at first, but it got better. I push the limits a little because I want to eventually get a more comprehensive arsenal, just like you. But I usually don't play the shot if I know full well it is a low percentage play that is likely to cost me strokes. Maybe what I'm doing is being a 16 cap and playing a good strategy for a 15 or 14 cap and trying to chase it on down. But while I do, I get to enjoy better scores and sharpen course management skills.
As stated above, maybe the coaches have an answer for which path is best. But I really don't think that my progressive incorporation method (I just made that up) is detrimental to my development. Actually, I'd imagine it us useful in coaching and teaching of many pursuits.
Very interesting read.
I pretty much suck all around but what your post me think about is perhaps working on one particular thing at a time instead of trying to work on all the different aspects of the game.