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Would You Rather…?

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30 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

2.) This would turn lots of pars I have into birdies. Hell, it would turn lots of pars pros have into birdies.

They don't hit it inside 10' all that often, and when they do, they convert at a pretty high percentage rate.

19 minutes ago, David in FL said:

I’m still surprised by any good player that wouldn’t take virtually eliminating 3-putts and improving up and downs considerably.  Again, not arguing their choice, just surprised.  I guess that’s why this one is a good question.

Good players should generally choose the putting. Poor players may benefit quite a bit more from the driving one.

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18 minutes ago, mcanadiens said:

Wanna bet?

Okay, there are a few "spike marks" in the air.  A quick, strong gust of wind.  An overhanging tree branch (you shouldn't be near that anyway), another golf ball in the air that collides with yours, a sudden hailstorm, a para sailor who strays off line at Torrey Pines, a falling meteor... 

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9 minutes ago, iacas said:

They don't hit it inside 10' all that often, and when they do, they convert at a pretty high percentage rate.

I suppose that is true, but it isn't 100 percent. I can only imagine how low pro scores would be if if they had this trait of only 1 putting from inside 10 ft. But for me, I am either lag putting to try to get within 3 ft, which may or may not happen and the ones that come from 30+ feet end in a 3 putt far too often for me when I am in the 3-10 ft range. Or I actually hit one close on a chip, pitch, or full swing, and finishing the hole out in 1 stroke significantly would reduce my score more than 0-30 yards off the tee (or so I think)

Edited by Bonvivant

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5 minutes ago, Double Mocha Man said:

Okay, there are a few "spike marks" in the air.  A quick, strong gust of wind.  An overhanging tree branch (you shouldn't be near that anyway), another golf ball in the air that collides with yours, a sudden hailstorm, a para sailor who strays off line at Torrey Pines, a falling meteor... 

I don't need to be near it.

Also, don't forget about the birds. 

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10 minutes ago, mcanadiens said:

I don't need to be near it.

Also, don't forget about the birds. 

Funny.  Meaning those tree branches reach out to grab your ball?  I hear ya.  Can't believe I forgot the birds.

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Would You Rather… #3: Would you rather hit your best drive (i.e. if your maximum drive is 250, then hit it 250, if your max is 300, then its 300, etc...) to the center of the fairway every time you tee off from now on. OR would you rather hole every putt from inside 10 feet from now on? 

Given that a typical good drive is around 230 for me, with the occasional one around 250 (heck, I drove over 300 twice, but that was downhill and downwind, can I use those all the time?) and I rarely end up in trouble from the drive, I would pick all the putts inside 10 feet for life!  And I am a decent putter.

Like many have said, it would free up the rest of the short game and even allow more flag hunting on approaches. It would probably save 5 strokes or more per round. Unless you let me place a ball over 300 yards in the middle of 14 fairways (when I drive it only 220-230 and not always smack in the middle!), there is no way I can get that much improvement by picking the drives...

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Would You Rather… #3: Would you rather hit your best drive (i.e. if your maximum drive is 250, then hit it 250, if your max is 300, then its 300, etc...) to the center of the fairway every time you tee off from now on. OR would you rather hole every putt from inside 10 feet from now on? 

Quite honestly probably a push for me but I'll give a slight edge to putting.  According to my stat tracking for last 20 rounds, making everything inside 10 feet would give me about 3.5 shots per round.  My driving is -2.6 shots below scratch, so I would think having a perfect drive every hole is worth at least 3.0-3.5 shots per round.  The tiebreaker is that if you know that when you are chipping/pitching you only have to be within 10 feet, man that's a lot of pressure off of you - got to be worth another shot or two per round.

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7 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Would You Rather… #3: Would you rather hit your best drive (i.e. if your maximum drive is 250, then hit it 250, if your max is 300, then its 300, etc...) to the center of the fairway every time you tee off from now on. OR would you rather hole every putt from inside 10 feet from now on? 

Hole the putts.  My driving is pretty consistent.

Of course, if this really happened, I would start complaining about not holing all my 12 footers.

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8 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Would You Rather… #3: Would you rather hit your best drive (i.e. if your maximum drive is 250, then hit it 250, if your max is 300, then its 300, etc...) to the center of the fairway every time you tee off from now on. OR would you rather hole every putt from inside 10 feet from now on? 

For me the answer is, hands down, the every putt inside 10 feet. I would virtually never fail to get up and down, making bogies much more difficult to come by, and I would make substantially more birdies. My tee shots are already a strength of my game and I rarely lose strokes off the tee (and often gain them), so the advantage I realistically gain from that is minimal at best. Making every putt inside 10 feet would save me a minimum of 2-3 strokes every round and more likely an average of 5-6 strokes per round.

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8 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Would You Rather… #3: Would you rather hit your best drive (i.e. if your maximum drive is 250, then hit it 250, if your max is 300, then its 300, etc...) to the center of the fairway every time you tee off from now on. OR would you rather hole every putt from inside 10 feet from now on? 

I lose a lot more strokes with my drives, so I would take that.

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8 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Would You Rather… #3: Would you rather hit your best drive (i.e. if your maximum drive is 250, then hit it 250, if your max is 300, then its 300, etc...) to the center of the fairway every time you tee off from now on. OR would you rather hole every putt from inside 10 feet from now on? 

Not even a question.  Driver.  My BEST drive in the center of the fairway every time?  I'll gladly take that over putting any day.  Hitting driver that well "from now on" is much harder to do and is much more valuable.

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9 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Would You Rather… #3: Would you rather hit your best drive (i.e. if your maximum drive is 250, then hit it 250, if your max is 300, then its 300, etc...) to the center of the fairway every time you tee off from now on. OR would you rather hole every putt from inside 10 feet from now on? 

I'll take the driver every time.   Hands down, no questions asked.   There are days I'm not speaking to my driver and I'm sure he's wishing I wouldn't. 

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16 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

am taking putts but the logic is different from everyone else so far I think, and I have 3 reasons.

2.) This would turn lots of pars I have into birdies. 

How so? I find it unlikely that a 19 handicap would have that many birdie opportunities inside 10 feet.

16 hours ago, David in FL said:

I’m still surprised by any good player that wouldn’t take virtually eliminating 3-putts and improving up and downs considerably.  Again, not arguing their choice, just surprised.  I guess that’s why this one is a good question.

I think part of the reason some better players might have picked the drives could be related to how long their max drives are and how often driver does/doesnt get them into trouble. A really good player who maxes out at 255 but is almost always in play and hits a ton of fairways is way more likely to benefit from the putting than someone like myself who is still a decent player, can hit the ball far but can also have huge misses as well that lead to penalty strokes and lost balls. 

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17 hours ago, David in FL said:

Good info.  Now, in those last 160 rounds, how many 3-putts did you have?  By guaranteeing no misses under 10’, virtually all of them....ok, let’s  call it 95%...should be eliminated.

160 rounds played, 164 3-putts. 1.02 per round.

1578366177_3putts.JPG.0eb6fafd4dc1fbf46a266aa7effdf0f2.JPG

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3 hours ago, klineka said:

How so? I find it unlikely that a 19 handicap would have that many birdie opportunities inside 10 feet. 

One of the courses I play the most is quite short at just over 5000 yards. Most par 4s are under 300 yards with fairly open greens. The 30-70 yard pitch shots that I have often land close but end in 2 putt scenarios. For reference my best score on this course is 78 (par 71 CR 63.0 SR 102) which was a 16.0 handicap differential. A normal round is in the mid 80s here for me. I would be in the 70s most rounds with the putts

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On 10/24/2019 at 10:04 AM, ChetlovesMer said:

Would You Rather… #3: Would you rather hit your best drive (i.e. if your maximum drive is 250, then hit it 250, if your max is 300, then its 300, etc...) to the center of the fairway every time you tee off from now on. OR would you rather hole every putt from inside 10 feet from now on? 

Best drive all day. That's 11-12 shots on a round an SV4 skill. I am estimating this would snowball to a minimum of 7-8 shots better. Probably more. 

I may have 1-2 putts a round that are inside 10 feet that are not gimmies anyway. 

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You know, immediately after I posted my previous post I started thinking I may have gotten it wrong, primarily because of the O-Value. I'll revisit that in a bit, though…

On 10/24/2019 at 4:48 PM, Bonvivant said:

I suppose that is true, but it isn't 100 percent. I can only imagine how low pro scores would be if if they had this trait of only 1 putting from inside 10 ft.

Not that much lower.

In the 2018-2019 season, the median players on the Tour in the "Putting < 10'" stat made 87.78% of his putts "inside 10'". This is over 98 rounds, which is higher than average (more below). He made 1300 putts inside of 10', and had 1481 opportunities. That's easy to calculate: he missed 181 putts over 98 rounds, so just under 2.0 per round.

On average, PGA Tour players had:

image.png

In order, those columns of numbers are: Rounds, make %, number of opportunities, number of makes, strokes gained per round with this skill.

Now, make no mistake about it… 1.72 is a LOT of strokes saved per round. And, I think guys could save a little bit more if they were more aggressive knowing that if they could get the ball to within 10' they could "get up and down" when they missed, or cash in for birdie if they stick it to 9'10" or something instead of converting that at maybe 38% or whatever.

So, could a PGA Tour player earn 2.0 strokes per round hitting it 20 yards farther and hitting every fairway dead in the middle? It's pretty close:

That table tells us that a PGA Tour player can save 0.8 strokes by gaining 20 yards, and 0.8 strokes by gaining 1° more accuracy. That's 1.6 strokes right there, and that's only if they gain 20 yards and only if they gain 1°.

We know two things about driving on the PGA Tour:

  • A drive in the rough costs about 0.2 to 0.25 strokes.
  • Every 20 yards is about 0.8 strokes gained.

So, the PGA Tour average driving accuracy rate was 62.64%. That's out of 14 fairways (generally) you can hit. That means they miss, on average, 37.36% of the fairways, or about 5.2 per round. 5.2 * either 0.2 or 0.25 yields between 1.04 and 1.3 strokes saved just from the accuracy standpoint. If the average PGA Tour player has 30 yards between their average tee shot and their best tee shot, that should be worth a savings of about 1.2, putting us well into the 2.2 to 2.5 range of strokes saved.

So, for the PGA Tour, I'm reversing my previous answer to say: the driving once again matters the most.


For poor players, driving. Period. Hands down, bar none, unless you're quite literally the world's worst putter (JK from WW in the WNY PGA tournament a few years ago may want to take the putting option as he yipped about twelve putts inside 3' that day).

For better amateur players, it's still almost always going to be the driver. There simply aren't that many putts inside of 10' that the average golfer misses that he'd otherwise make.

I went back through a few of my recent rounds:

  • 70 at WW, 27 putts, 16/16 < 10'. 0 strokes saved. Most were tap-ins for par, and a few were 4' putts following a chip or something. I scrambled at 86% that day.
  • 73 at Field Club, 30 putts, 16/17 < 10'. 1 stroke saved. Virtually all tap-ins for par or bogey after a longer initial putt outside of 10'.
  • 36 at Lawrence Park, 28 putts, 9/10 < 10'. 1 stroke saved, so maybe 2 if I had missed a 4' par putt like I did on the front side after a tricky up and down.
  • 71 at WW, 31 putts, 17/17. 0 strokes saved.
  • 72 at LP, 30 putts, 16/16. 0 strokes saved. The longest putt inside 10' that I made in this round was a single 8' putt for birdie somewhere. I also made birdies from 54' and 12'. The rest were par putts or short putts after a chip or something.

So, I'm reversing the answer for me as well, because over 90 holes I could have saved only three strokes. Now, I get it, I'm a really good freaking putter, but there simply aren't that many opportunities to make a putt you would otherwise miss unless you're a pretty bad putter (you may very well be).

If I could hit a 300-yard tee shot that finds the middle of every fairway, I could easily save more than a shot a round, let alone the 0.6 that I came up with over the last five rounds.

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