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Cantankerish

Do You Seek to Learn From Your Rounds?

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I feel like there should be a stock conventional wisdom to this question.  I am routinely making shot selections based upon what I feel "a golfer" should be choosing instead of what "I" should be choosing.  I feel that it is a learning experience every time I am on the course <--by my own design, mind you. I am perfectly cognizant of this decision.  And every shot contributes to that education.  The problem is that I do not need to hit the lob wedge over the sand trap because I think I can do it with the 50 gap wedge and hold the green, which is the easier shot.  On a 350 yard par four, the driver which goes catastrophic for me every 5th hole or so, is not strictly necessary to reach the green in 2.  I really could reliably putt from 6 feet off the green with at least as much precision as my chip.  And so on.

But I need to learn these shots...don't I?

My buddies tell me that I should have a handicap pretty well below what it actually is based upon the quality of my shots.  I know that I give away strokes every round because of these decisions.  I am not sure at what point I say "The primary purpose today is to get a low score, not to improve the long-term quality of my game."  I gotta be honest, I feel like there is this bit of wisdom I need to hear on this concept.

What do you do when these situations arise?

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I tell my friends sometimes...."A smart golfer would..." and then proceed to do something completely different.  

It depends upon the situation.   If I'm trying to beat my opponent and it's a do or die, I'll gamble, otherwise, I'm usually conservative with golf and try not to use that phrase.

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I try to be self-aware and learn something every time I'm on the course, at the range or at my neighborhood watering hole.  There are always things we can learn and we are better for it.  Learning keeps the brain young.

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2 hours ago, Cantankerish said:

But I need to learn these shots...don't I?

Are you saying you deliberately make decisions that are worse for your game for the sake of hitting those shots? Practicing is for practice time.

I don't need to hit driver on a short par 4 either, but when I do it's because I'm confident I can execute the shot I selected, not because I'm forcing myself to hit the harder shot.

2 hours ago, Cantankerish said:

I am not sure at what point I say "The primary purpose today is to get a low score, not to improve the long-term quality of my game."

You don't get enough repetitions during a round to really get quality practice out of it, so if you're not playing a practice round and hitting multiple balls, I'm not sure how this approach improves your game long-term.

So you flubbed a pitch shot over a bunker with your 60° wedge. What did you learn from it? Was it the club, your technique, the lie, etc.? Say next time you try your 50° and you flub that, too. What then? To me, it's just two shots. I don't read too much into that.

2 hours ago, Cantankerish said:

What do you do when these situations arise?

Play golf.

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 I finally learned that I cannot hit a ball through  a tree when the ball is up against a tree.

Punch it out , take my medicine

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Just now, uitar9 said:

 I finally learned that I cannot hit a ball through  a tree when the ball is up against a tree.

Punch it out , take my medicine

But you can skip a ball across a pond.  Just ask Phil...

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I will "try" a shot, from time to time, in the name of science; but I don't make things more difficult than they need to be out of some mistaken notion that a "real" golfer never takes the "easy" way out.  Golf is hard enough all by itself.  There is no need to introduce challenges beyond which the game already provides.  

Playing smarter is both easier, and more difficult, than it might seem.

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When playing for a score, I always go with the shot I am the most familiar with, for that shot situation. What ever the best shot I know how to hit is, will more than likely save me a few strokes over a weeks worth of golf. The big picture so to speak. 

Now sometimes there are situations that I am not familiar with. In those situations I will lay up, or other wise hit to location for a shot I am familiar with. I will also jot down that unfamiliar situation, to use at a later practice. I don't like surprises when playing for a score. 

Now, when playing, but not for a score, I will try some really ridiculous shots, just to see if I can pull them off. I am having fun. 

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Yes. I track number of putts, chips, and penalty shots per hole.  This tells me what to practice and how to manage the course the next time I play it.

 

One more thing.  You are doing what I used to do and still struggle with.  Experimenting on the course. Yep, ‘if I just open my stance a little and move the ball forwards this should cut it right in’. Then double cross it OB on the right.  

I am stopping that.  

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14 hours ago, Cantankerish said:

I feel like there should be a stock conventional wisdom to this question.  I am routinely making shot selections based upon what I feel "a golfer" should be choosing instead of what "I" should be choosing.  I feel that it is a learning experience every time I am on the course <--by my own design, mind you. I am perfectly cognizant of this decision.  And every shot contributes to that education.  The problem is that I do not need to hit the lob wedge over the sand trap because I think I can do it with the 50 gap wedge and hold the green, which is the easier shot.  On a 350 yard par four, the driver which goes catastrophic for me every 5th hole or so, is not strictly necessary to reach the green in 2.  I really could reliably putt from 6 feet off the green with at least as much precision as my chip.  And so on.

But I need to learn these shots...don't I?

My buddies tell me that I should have a handicap pretty well below what it actually is based upon the quality of my shots.  I know that I give away strokes every round because of these decisions.  I am not sure at what point I say "The primary purpose today is to get a low score, not to improve the long-term quality of my game."  I gotta be honest, I feel like there is this bit of wisdom I need to hear on this concept.

What do you do when these situations arise?

You have to stow your ego and play shots that have the best chance of success with your ability that day. It is a hard thing to do because we all know what our potential could be, but we may not be there at the moment.

Examples for me are par 3s. I know I can hit my 7 iron 145-150 at the range with a full swing, but there are a lot of factors in that, like weather. It is also a bit more challenging to be as accurate with a full swing for me. So lately, I've gone with a 6 iron in that situation and a smoother, easier swing and have done much better. Same from the fairway, club up and swing 80% or do 3/4 shots.

It applies to other shots including short game and shorter approach shots. Go with the shot and club you are most comfortable with that day. For me, right now, I am very comfortable with my PW for a lot of 100 yard and in shots including chips. My lob and sand wedge are getting better with 3/4 and 1/2 shots, but I fat them on occasion. So unless I absolutely have to carry it over the required distance, I lean more on the PW to execute the shot.

This resulted in a birdie on 18 Tuesday and a near eagle. I was about 40-50 yards out with a pin at the front and a decent slope in front of the green. I could have tried the LW or SW and tried to stick it close, but the PW was feeling great. So I did a 1/4 PW (basically a long chip). It hit the front and rolled to 4 inches.

You can get a feel of how things are working in the first few holes. Use that information and game plan accordingly.

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 The purpose of this game is to shoot the lowest score, not to hit the coolest shots.

I play the shot that gives me the best chance for success.

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I actually classify my rounds as practice rounds and playing rounds. Practice rounds I will routinely try to hit some different shots (big cuts around trees/bunkers, low punch shots etc). Playing rounds I'm trying to score. Yesterday, after work, was a 9 hole, get some exercise, practice round. Followed by a three beer, reflection period. I have found the "reflection period" to be very relaxing.;-)

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13 hours ago, billchao said:

Practicing is for practice time.

Yes...Thank you. Best, -Marv

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2 hours ago, David in FL said:

 The purpose of this game is to shoot the lowest score, not to hit the coolest shots.

I play the shot that gives me the best chance for success.

No. No. No. the purpose of this game is to shoot the lowest score AND outdrive all your golf buddies. 😊

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2 hours ago, David in FL said:

 The purpose of this game is to shoot the lowest score, not to hit the coolest shots.

I play the shot that gives me the best chance for success.

For competitions, etc absolutely.  For fun daily play?  I disagree, it's my game, I can make the purpose of that day whatever I like.

I have days where I feel like taking on that cool shot.  So I do - just for fun, knowing that my score will be hurt.  So what?  I want to try the shot and I'll take my medicine when it doesn't go well.

Other days, I play for score and try to select my shots as best I can based on my limited knowledge, skill and experience.

It's a game - I do what I want.

 

 

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Hopefully, you learn something from every experience. Of course, some of us learn faster than others.

Obviously when playing a round that counts, you play for the lowest score. That's why there really is something to be said for practice rounds, particular when the course isn't busy and you can try different things. 

As time goes by, the strategy for each hole on the course changes through learning. The hole where I used to lay up in front of the hazard has become a hole I know I can hit GIR if my drive gets to a certain place on the fairway. Now its just a matter of hitting that darn driver.

It's a process.

Edited by mcanadiens

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16 hours ago, dennyjones said:

It depends upon the situation.   

I would agree with @dennyjones.   Typically if it's just out playing around, I'll often try to do the harder wedge shot through the "V" in the 80 ft tall trees.  I'm in the trees often enough that iv'e had too much practice so it's a higher % shot for me.  If the score is important, I will take the shot that I think give me the best chance at advancing the ball, whatever it might be. 

Every round is some kind of learning, some more than others. My course typically doesn't have many people when I'm there, so I will often play 2-3 balls at the same time unless I have someone behind me, then I will let them play through.

You can still learn while enjoying and having fun.

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I track a variety of stats for each round and generally try to score my best - unless I am playing by myself and then I will often ignore the score and instead hit multiple balls working on whatever aspect of my game needs some extra work.

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