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Hitting to a Spot vs. Hitting as Far as You Can


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I'm wondering what people are doing out there regarding the setup for a 3rd shot.  Here's the scenario:

400 yd. hole.  Driver is hit 210 and in the fairway.  Now what:

1 try to make the green with a 3h, but often when the ball travels 170+ it starts to fade or hook a little, with a potential of winding up in the greenside bunker.

2 try to get to 90y, and use my favorite club in the bag (GW) to make the green in 3.  

3 use something in-between like a 7h and wind up maybe 40/30y from the green for an easy chip and run

why the dilemma:

#1  seems a shame to waste an opportunity to get on the green in 2.  But, do the bunkers as a percentage hurt worse than resigning myself to 3 onto the green?

#2  yes, the GW is my favorite club, but 90y is still 90y.  If I hit that shot 10 times, would it be on the green as often as a LW or pitch and run from 30y.  Also, will a 30y pitch and run be closer to the pin than a 90y GW?

#3  a LW or pitch and run from 30y will likely get on the green.  But, that means I'm on in 3, rather than being on in 2 if I choose option #1.

percentage wise, I think #3 is a better option than #2, and with a 7h, the bunker is no longer in play.  Also, the 7h doesn't need to go straight.  It just needs to go somewhat straight for 150y.  With the GW at 90y, while it is a more controllable club (in terms of going straight), it better go straight or there's a chance of being in the bunker.

How do some of you think through this scenario?

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12 minutes ago, ajl said:

I'm wondering what people are doing out there regarding the setup for a 3rd shot.  Here's the scenario:

400 yd. hole.  Driver is hit 210 and in the fairway.  Now what:

1 try to make the green with a 3h, but often when the ball travels 170+ it starts to fade or hook a little, with a potential of winding up in the greenside bunker.

2 try to get to 90y, and use my favorite club in the bag (GW) to make the green in 3.  

3 use something in-between like a 7h and wind up maybe 40/30y from the green for an easy chip and run

why the dilemma:

#1  seems a shame to waste an opportunity to get on the green in 2.  But, do the bunkers as a percentage hurt worse than resigning myself to 3 onto the green?

#2  yes, the GW is my favorite club, but 90y is still 90y.  If I hit that shot 10 times, would it be on the green as often as a LW or pitch and run from 30y.  Also, will a 30y pitch and run be closer to the pin than a 90y GW?

#3  a LW or pitch and run from 30y will likely get on the green.  But, that means I'm on in 3, rather than being on in 2 if I choose option #1.

percentage wise, I think #3 is a better option than #2, and with a 7h, the bunker is no longer in play.  Also, the 7h doesn't need to go straight.  It just needs to go somewhat straight for 150y.  With the GW at 90y, while it is a more controllable club (in terms of going straight), it better go straight or there's a chance of being in the bunker.

How do some of you think through this scenario?

It’s all explained in this book below. Basically, you want to get it as close to the green safely as possible. Safely means avoiding bunkers, hazards, deep rough, etc. So I would hit it a distance to just short of the green to avoid the bunkers, your number 3, depending on the bunker setup. If there are no bunkers long and the rough isn’t too bad, long may be the option.


Shoot lower scores on the golf course… NOW!

 

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24 minutes ago, ajl said:

I'm wondering what people are doing out there regarding the setup for a 3rd shot.  Here's the scenario:

400 yd. hole.  Driver is hit 210 and in the fairway.  Now what:

1 try to make the green with a 3h, but often when the ball travels 170+ it starts to fade or hook a little, with a potential of winding up in the greenside bunker.

2 try to get to 90y, and use my favorite club in the bag (GW) to make the green in 3.  

3 use something in-between like a 7h and wind up maybe 40/30y from the green for an easy chip and run

why the dilemma:

#1  seems a shame to waste an opportunity to get on the green in 2.  But, do the bunkers as a percentage hurt worse than resigning myself to 3 onto the green?

#2  yes, the GW is my favorite club, but 90y is still 90y.  If I hit that shot 10 times, would it be on the green as often as a LW or pitch and run from 30y.  Also, will a 30y pitch and run be closer to the pin than a 90y GW?

#3  a LW or pitch and run from 30y will likely get on the green.  But, that means I'm on in 3, rather than being on in 2 if I choose option #1.

percentage wise, I think #3 is a better option than #2, and with a 7h, the bunker is no longer in play.  Also, the 7h doesn't need to go straight.  It just needs to go somewhat straight for 150y.  With the GW at 90y, while it is a more controllable club (in terms of going straight), it better go straight or there's a chance of being in the bunker.

How do some of you think through this scenario?

It sounds like your instincts are correct. Given the description you provided, #3 is the best percentage play over the long term.

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Home course has a 370-yard par 4 with a landing area about 20 feet above tee box. If I push or pull a drive, I can end up in a similar situation in light rough.

This particular green has four distinct nodes to it, so from even closer in "hitting to center" is not a sound option. (Hitting the wrong node and three-putting is enraging.)

But from 190 yards out... depends on how your day is going. If hybrid have been flying smoothly, go for it. If not, lay up short and chip on.

19 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

If there are no bunkers long and the rough isn’t too bad, long may be the option.

Also, what does terrain look like in "long miss" zone? In the courses I play, some greens are set inside a horseshoe, or mini-amphitheater. This means a miss - long or side - can leave you with a downhill angle pitch or chip out of shaggy turf.

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18 minutes ago, billchao said:

It sounds like your instincts are correct. Given the description you provided, #3 is the best percentage play over the long term.

What don't you like about reaching the green with the second shot on a par four?

Is the stuff around the green really, really penal? If it was that penal, what makes the 40-yard chip-and-run so easy?

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1 hour ago, ajl said:

I'm wondering what people are doing out there regarding the setup for a 3rd shot.  Here's the scenario:

400 yd. hole.  Driver is hit 210 and in the fairway.  Now what:

1 try to make the green with a 3h, but often when the ball travels 170+ it starts to fade or hook a little, with a potential of winding up in the greenside bunker.

and 

1 hour ago, ajl said:

#1  seems a shame to waste an opportunity to get on the green in 2.  But, do the bunkers as a percentage hurt worse than resigning myself to 3 onto the green?

While most par 4's I play are not this long, many I play do offer the same types penalties.  I have to agree with @iacas and go for the green knowing that I "may" have to play out a third from a bunker or rough.   For example, today on #11 at the course I was playing I had to decide similarly how to play it.  The hole is guarded on both sides at the front by bunkers and several knobs in the back.  I chose to go 3h instead of laying up as I am reasonably comfortable with where the ball goes and if it doesn't go well, I am okay hitting from green side bunkers. 

Risk vs reward - where is the most to be gained?   For me, the hole did not play out as I planned as the 2nd was in heavy rough and the hybrid landed about 40yds short.  PW onto the green for a 2-putt bogie.  Would I play it that way again, why yes.  

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3 hours ago, ajl said:

#1  seems a shame to waste an opportunity to get on the green in 2.  But, do the bunkers as a percentage hurt worse than resigning myself to 3 onto the green?

Are you really that bad at green side bunkers?

Seems to me spending an hour one Saturday working on that part of your game would pay huge dividends. 

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

What don't you like about reaching the green with the second shot on a par four?

Is the stuff around the green really, really penal? If it was that penal, what makes the 40-yard chip-and-run so easy?

For me, a chip and run from that distance is almost a 100% shot onto the green. I have a lot of things wrong with my game, believe me, but that’s my best shot - 40 is pushing the boundary a bit - 30y is more like. Also, if I’m 40y away, I can pitch it to 4y.  30y away, I pitch it to 3y. That was one shot I probably practiced for over 100 hours on my front lawn when the courses shut down for covid :-) 

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4 minutes ago, ajl said:

For me, a chip and run from that distance is almost a 100% shot onto the green. I have a lot of things wrong with my game, believe me, but that’s my best shot - 40 is pushing the boundary a bit - 30y is more like. Also, if I’m 40y away, I can pitch it to 4y.  30y away, I pitch it to 3y. That was one shot I probably practiced for over 100 hours on my front lawn when the courses shut down for covid :-) 

Two things, really:

  • It's unlikely you regularly hit it from 40 yards to 12 feet (or from 30 to 9).
  • You didn't answer my question: there's tremendous upside in being closer to the green, or ON the green, that likely offsets the times you end up in the greenside bunker (in regulation).

Laying up, unless the situation is VERY penal, is almost never the better choice.

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27 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Are you really that bad at green side bunkers?

Seems to me spending an hour one Saturday working on that part of your game would pay huge dividends. 

As it stands now, I have a terrible time in bunkers.

but, that’s a really interesting challenge. I wonder, after 1h of practice, if I hit 20 shots from a bunker, would I be on the green 18 or 19 times?  Because from 30-40y, I can pitch it on very confidently. 
 

maybe that’s the wrong statistic for me to think about. Maybe the question is, from 180y out, how many times am I on in 1 or 2 shots with the 3h (and maybe he lob wedge from the bunker), vs being on with a 7h, and then the pitch and run (which is resigning myself to being on in 3 at best). So, maybe 12 shots are on the green from 180y, 4 are out of the bunker, and 4 require an extra shot. Have to figure out what the best math combination is 

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

What don't you like about reaching the green with the second shot on a par four?

Is the stuff around the green really, really penal? If it was that penal, what makes the 40-yard chip-and-run so easy?

I kind of assumed that the driver was hit well at 210, so the 3h probably was only getting to the green on a great shot. The greenside bunker was the deciding factor.

Are they no longer shaded black?

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1 minute ago, iacas said:

Two things, really:

  • It's unlikely you regularly hit it from 40 yards to 12 feet (or from 30 to 9).
  • You didn't answer my question: there's tremendous upside in being closer to the green, or ON the green, that likely offsets the times you end up in the greenside bunker (in regulation).

Laying up, unless the situation is VERY penal, is almost never the better choice.

I answered your question, basically in another message. I think we crossed messages - ha, ha. the key of course is getting confidence from the bunker  


You are probably right about the word regularly. I haven’t really done the math - maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.  But, it sure feels that way.  If I’m 30y, it’s a huge sigh of relief and I feel like I’m home. I’ll take that shot any day. But yeah, after doing the math, perhaps it’s not quite as good as I mentioned.  That will be fun to run a lab experiment. 

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1 minute ago, billchao said:

Are they no longer shaded black?

They were never black. Black is penalty stroke areas.

Medium to dark, but the green would be bright white, and a lot of the rough around the green might be a pretty light grey.

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8 minutes ago, iacas said:

They were never black. Black is penalty stroke areas.

Medium to dark, but the green would be bright white, and a lot of the rough around the green might be a pretty light grey.

I thought for golfers below a certain level, bunkers might as well be black. Wasn’t that written somewhere, or am I misremembering things?

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20 minutes ago, billchao said:

I thought for golfers below a certain level, bunkers might as well be black. Wasn’t that written somewhere, or am I misremembering things?

We said they may as well have red stakes around them, but that’s why I’m asking how often he is in them or how penal they really are.

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(edited)
14 hours ago, iacas said:

....that’s why I’m asking how often he is in them or how penal they really are.

varies.  For example, my last 2 rounds are a tale of two completely different players:

round 1:  I hit 12 of 14 fairways*.  That is astounding for me.  Before the round I had said I really should come out some day and hit 50 balls out of a bunker to get better at it.  Halfway through the round, I had already been in 7 bunkers (one time  I was in 2 on a single hole).  So, I then joked when I said I wanted to hit 50 balls out of a bunker, I didn't mean this round!!!! The problem was, I also had a terrible time getting out of the bunkers that day.  I wound up shooting 97.  Imagine that, hitting almost all my fairways, but winding up with a 97 because I had a number of 2 or 3 shots out of the bunker!! It was almost comical on the back 9, as balls just kept going into the bunker.

round 2:  only hit 9 fairways.  But, I also only hit into 3 bunkers.  However, this time, I got out of all 3 bunkers in 1 shot onto the green - not necessarily near the pin, but onto the green.  I shot a 85.  Maybe because I was in less bunkers, I was less nervous about it.

So you see, it is hit or miss with me.  I'm much more comfortable and calm when I don't wind up in a bunker.  But, as someone said earlier, perhaps that is the next part of the game to work on.  I find it funny that with the Pros, who cares if they are in the bunker.  From that distance to the hole, they almost seem as good as a putt.  

I guess I need a goto strategy for when I'm in a greenside bunker.  BTW, fairway bunkers are no problem - I can just smash a 5h or 7h, and I'm out.  

Going out today, and am going to try strategy #3.  Not attempts at the green unless I can use a 9i from 120y.  If I'm 140y, forget the 7 and chance it could drift and just hit a 9 to about 20y from the pin.  I'll report back how it goes.  

 

* in hitting the fairways, a big part of it is that I'm using my 3w, which is pretty much straight and 180-190y.  My driver is anywhere from 165y with a slice to 225y straight.  So, I only use the driver in certain situations.  

Edited by ajl
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20 hours ago, ajl said:

1 try to make the green with a 3h, but often when the ball travels 170+ it starts to fade or hook a little, with a potential of winding up in the greenside bunker.

Unless the ball is going to wind up in a really bad place (pot bunker, water, thick rough etc.) or you are really bad around the green (I have a friend who from 20 yards in prefer hitting one handed and hoping) I would always go for attempting the green in two.  Generally you should be able to get onto the green with your third from 5 to 10 yards and perhaps closer than a 30 or 40 yard chip and run

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On the course today, but only played nine holes.  Shot a 44, so a good round for me. Missed most of my fairways, but didn’t matter much 2nd shot was normally just trying to get to 30y or so.

Never went for the green when beyond 140, except one hole where there wasn’t much danger. Throughout the round, everything was safe. I probably blew 1 putt, and 1 chip onto the green.  But never felt oh dear, this round might go south.  By the 3rd or 4th hole, I knew I’d beat bogey golf. 
 

But here is the thing: i’ve never been more bored playing golf in my life!!  It was just plain boring.  I’m sure if I go out with my friends, who all struggle to break 90, I’d beat them every time.  But, I wouldn’t be having any fun :-)  

So, this seems like a safe way of playing, but it does not allow for a real breakthrough round of phenomenal scores.  At the end of the day, it is a lot more fun to go for the green. I probably need to work on getting out of green side bunkers so I won’t be so worried about hitting into them. 
 

thanks for the advice, everyone. 

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