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Approach to a Shot - (Inspired by How Would You Play It (16 at Saddleback Golf Course in...

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I wanted to get some people's responses to this question:

 

What is the best way to account for your weaknesses/inconsistencies when planning a shot?

 

There's a lot of talk about "this is how you SHOULD play the shot" on the sample hole threads, which most seasoned golfers seem to fall in line with on this forum, but there's generally a lot of resistance from guys who say stuff like "well, I'm a short hitter, so I shouldn't do that, but this" etc.

 

I find in sports that I am generally a positive thinker, and golf is no exception. I commit to a shot and expect to hit that shot. In another thread, people disagreed with me when I said "how far do you hit your clubs" shouldn't mean average, but relative average. i.e. if I hit my 5 iron 10 times and the distances are 190,188,186,189,192,183,185,187 but I skull one of them 140 and shank one into a bush 100 yards, my "5 iron distance" isn't 150, but more like 185. Some people said it should be closer to 150. My argument is that I feel like my 5 iron should go 185. When I plan on a shot, I expect it to go that distance. I can't plan on a shank or a skull. If that was the case, I would either aim 45 degrees to the left or hit driver on par 3 holes. I play with guys all the time who will take a 3/4 9 iron swing on a 60 yard pitch because they skulled the last 10 shots, but then they'll actually hit it pure and almost kill someone on the next hole. That's not playing golf to me, that's just whacking a ball and praying. Some might call it course management, though!

 

On the 16th at Firestone, for example, how much "bad stuff" can and SHOULD you plan for? My thought is I expect to hit my hybrid off the tee 235, so that's what I do. I may hit water sometimes, but then I expect to pitch on to the green and make par or bogey. Another person responded to my thread by saying you need to account for a bad drop, or short rough coming into play... At this level, isn't that overthinking it? I could say "Well, the slope of the hill near the green is 45 degrees, which will raise my blood pressure and bring imminent heart attack into play, so that's out" or "the viscosity of the sand trap is very thick and my wedge shafts are old, so that brings the possibility of club destruction into play."

 

Of course I'm exaggerating, but my problem is this: I don't play away from trouble enough in golf, but I know I probably should. I play driver the way I see it in my mind and expect to be hitting the next one from the fairway on to the green. How much should one compromise their expectation of excellence to take into account error?

post #2 of 13
Honestly it depends on what's important to you. If your going for the best score possible every time you play you will taking that error into account more than if your just going out to play for fun. One of my buddies that I play with a lot is one of those guys who goes for birdies and just accepts the fact that sometimes you are going to make a double. I like to be a bit more conservative. Perfect example the last time we played together we both hit good drives on a par 5. I hit a hybrid which left me 45 yards short of the green but also short of the hazard right and left. He hit his 3 wood intp the right hazard. He even commented well I probably should have layed up Oh well.
post #3 of 13
post #4 of 13
Saddleback is pretty cool and that hole is cool but I can't stress enough how much wind affects decisions up there. How you play that hole changes day to day. Like I said in the other thread I play in Ft. Lupton often, both courses are right on Hwy 52 about 6-7 miles apart. There is 179 yd par 3 there with water left that really isn't in play. On windy days I've hit what should have been a big push fade using 2 clubs more than usual and still had the wind blow the ball in the water. By the time you get to the next tee it might be dead calm. Get to the corner in the back and the gusts are coming from a different direction. These courses are in what was wide open prairie. As rinky dink as they are the wind is a problem even in the summer.
post #5 of 13

I agree with you on distance.  You should play with what your expected good contact distance will be.  

 

For direction, I play with my miss in mind as well.  Example:  My irons tend to draw most of the time (about 10 yards for a 7 iron).  I will aim with that in mind.  I will aim at the right edge of the green if there is trouble right and no trouble left.  If it is the opposite, will aim off the right of the green.

 

I keep trouble out of the direction of my miss in other words. Trouble to me are areas where a penalty stroke may occur or a very difficult lie or obstruction.

 

Some days I am off and it doesn't matter what I do.  Other days, this works well and I score lower.

post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by boogielicious View Post

I agree with you on distance.  You should play with what your expected good contact distance will be.  

For direction, I play with my miss in mind as well.  Example:  My irons tend to draw most of the time (about 10 yards for a 7 iron).  I will aim with that in mind.  I will aim at the right edge of the green if there is trouble right and no trouble left.  If it is the opposite, will aim off the right of the green.

I keep trouble out of the direction of my miss in other words. Trouble to me are areas where a penalty stroke may occur or a very difficult lie or obstruction.

Some days I am off and it doesn't matter what I do.  Other days, this works well and I score lower.

The problem is that too many people define "good contact" as their best ever contact.

As Erik and Dave have said before, the key is recognize what is normal, and what is the aberration. Just because we would prefer that the atypical shot were the norm, doesn't make it so.

I agree. Develop a somewhat repeatable, one-way miss, and play to that. Course management is virtually impossible with a 2-way miss. Then you're just in the hit/hope/recover mode......
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by David in FL View Post

The problem is that too many people define "good contact" as their best ever contact.

As Erik and Dave have said before, the key is recognize what is normal, and what is the aberration. Just because we would prefer that the atypical shot were the norm, doesn't make it so.

I agree. Develop a somewhat repeatable, one-way miss, and play to that. Course management is virtually impossible with a 2-way miss. Then you're just in the hit/hope/recover mode......

 

We have a good visual in the book that helps you identify exactly these kinds of things.

 

If it were just my book, I'd share it here. But it's Dave's too, so we're respecting each other's rights not to over-share prior to publication. :)

 

Simply put, though, the "best" shots an average golfer hits are often the outliers.

post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by David in FL View Post


The problem is that too many people define "good contact" as their best ever contact.

As Erik and Dave have said before, the key is recognize what is normal, and what is the aberration. Just because we would prefer that the atypical shot were the norm, doesn't make it so.

I agree. Develop a somewhat repeatable, one-way miss, and play to that. Course management is virtually impossible with a 2-way miss. Then you're just in the hit/hope/recover mode......

Agree.  Example:  The 7 iron distance I play for is to end up around 150 with a carry 140-145.  Occasionally I will carry 150, but this is rare.  So I plan on a 140 carry.  If I need to carry it 145 or 150, then it is 6 iron time.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

So to find out your "normal" distance, is the best way to go to the range, get a rangefinder, hit about 40 balls with a specific club, record the distance, and use the average (removing outliers)?

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmoan2 View Post
 

So to find out your "normal" distance, is the best way to go to the range, get a rangefinder, hit about 40 balls with a specific club, record the distance, and use the average (removing outliers)?


that seems to be the case.

 

-You need an aiming point (or line)

 

-average from only those shots, which hit the aiming point / aiming line.

 

-personally I suppose I would accept only straight, straightfade, straightdraw into the pool of shots, from which the averages are calculated.

 

-record both: all the carry distances, and all the carry+roll distances

 

-you can compare carry distances, to your total distances... see if  you get more rolls with certain clubs with powerdraw or powerfade instead of a straight shot!

 

(Like you said, there is no point in accounting for topped shots, or shanks, or massive slices massive hooks etc...)

post #11 of 13
Quote:
 So to find out your "normal" distance, is the best way to go to the range, get a rangefinder, hit about 40 balls with a specific club, record the distance, and use the average (removing outliers)?

 

Warren Buffet has a saying when talking about financial statements - I'd rather be approximately right than precisely wrong - and I think its a good one for setting the distances on your irons.  I think you are significantly over-thinking it.  I think its better to think in terms of bands than exact numbers.  For example, if a flag is at the back of the green 145, I'm hitting 9.  If its at the front of the green 145, I'm hitting 8.  I'm looking at my target and feeling that shot - its not precise like you are making it out to be.  I like to think of it in terms of minimums and maximums.  "My 8 iron will never go shorter than 143ish and will never go longer than 155ish".  That's more useful to me than "150".  I like to try to think about the flag in relation to the biggest part of the green to miss to.  Very rarely, and usually only with PW or below, am I trying to hit it right at the flag yardage, so knowing exactly how far my irons go isn't much use to me.

 

I think its more useful than this precise average method you are proposing to hit, say, 40 8 irons and measure the band (shortest good contact was X, longest good contact was Y).  This will help you make better decisions on the course IMO.  For example, if you tell me its 140 to clear the bunker in front, 155 to the pin, and 158 to the back, and being over is death, I feel good hitting 8 b/c I know the max yardage is about the pin.  If you tell me its 149 to the pin, 153 over the back and being over is death, I'm not hitting 8 b/c it might go that far.

 

I think thinking in absolutes of any type on a golf course is generally a bad idea.

 

Also be careful measuring range balls.  Depending on what balls you game, they can be quite a bit shorter.

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnclayton1982 View Post

Warren Buffet has a saying when talking about financial statements - I'd rather be approximately right than precisely wrong - and I think its a good one for setting the distances on your irons.  I think you are significantly over-thinking it.  I think its better to think in terms of bands than exact numbers. 

 

This is similar to the approach that I take with my shot distance. I know that if I hit a certain club really hard, I can hit it 160. A comfortable swing with it goes around 150, and a 3/4 shot with it will go about 140-145. When I decide upon the club to hit, I try to figure out where my "best miss" would be in terms of distance. Back pin at 155 and I'm swinging away with that club, but if it's 155 and the pin is up front I'll club up one and hit a 3/4 shot (next club up is 155 for a 3/4 swing, 165-170 for a full, and 175 for a hard swing) because I know missing long is preferable to short.

 

I just have a number set in my head of how far each club goes when I swing normally, swing hard, and swing at what feels like 3/4 to me. Those three swings and their respective numbers get me through a round with good distance control. I also know my numbers for each club from the rough, the sand, if I need to hit it low, if I need to hit it high etc. I just have a range of distances that I know I can hit each club consistently, and I work from there when determining which club to use and how hard to hit it.

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmoan2 View Post
 

So to find out your "normal" distance, is the best way to go to the range, get a rangefinder, hit about 40 balls with a specific club, record the distance, and use the average (removing outliers)?

Par 3s are a good way to find your distance average.  If you have a par 3 course, play a few rounds there to see what your irons distances work out to be.

 

Also, if your range has multiple targets or number signs, move around the range to vary the distances.  It may be 150 from the bay straight on it, but 165 from the bay at the end.  Try your irons to hit the sign.  I use a range finder on the distance sign or flags and do that.

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