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+3 Player - Better to Hit All Fairways or Make All Up-and-Downs Inside 30 Yards?


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22 minutes ago, Big Lex said:

I was referring to strokes gained around the green, not approach the green.

I know.

ATG is "around the green."

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instructor Development, 5 Simple Keys®/Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins • Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 • "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 • Penn-State Behrend Head Coach • • • • • • • • • • :aimpoint: :edel: :true_linkswear:

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

That's a bad way of looking at it and they don't measure the same thing at all, because… SG:OTT is pretty much the same # for each player in every round (14 times).

SG:ATG first off includes shots from outside 30 yards and in (to the hole), and secondly (more importantly), isn't a uniform measurement because it's a counting stat of sorts: players who miss more greens have more chances to gain or lose strokes. A poor approach shot player who has a great short game can gain more strokes because they have more short game shots over a player with the same quality of short game who hits more greens. They both might scramble at 75%, and yet… the "guaranteed up and down" would benefit the player who missed more greens more than the one who didn't, even though their short games are just as good as each other's.

Again, yes.

Let's say you hit it so that you have 160 yards left to the hole. On the PGA Tour, every time you're in the fairway instead of the rough, that's over a quarter of a shot difference. Let's say hitting the fairway gives you 20 yards more roll, now you're looking at 3.23 - 2.91 = almost a third of a shot (0.32).

The math here isn't too complex IF we use PGA Tour stats. I'm surprised nobody has done this yet.

  • The average PGA Tour player hits 60% of his fairways. That's about 8.4 fairways per round, missing 5.6. 5.6 * 0.25 = 1.4 strokes per round.*
  • The average PGA Tour player hits 12 GIR/round, leading to 6 up-and-down chances. They get up and down 86% of the time from 0-10 yards, 64% of the time from 10-20, and 52% of the time from 20-30 yards. The average of those§ is 67%. So you might think getting up and down from within 30 yards is 2 shots.

Now, the * and the § mean that I have more to say…

* This assumes no penalty shots, and that the drives that miss the fairways are always just in "rough." Take even one penalty stroke every other round, or one obstructed shot, etc. and this number goes up about 0.5. Hitting the fairway is important for a good player. It matters less for a poorer player.

§ Averaging these assume that players are missing the greens equally, and that's not true. The distribution for good players (and all players, really) are weighted heavily toward the "closer to the green" side of things. That means shorter shots (and higher scrambling percentages) are favored. This reduces the "2 shots." I also think the times a player doesn't get up and down (i.e. they take 3+ shots) are offset by the times they hole out, while this question never assumes you hole out. You always get up and down. Also, the PGA Tour stats only count the shot where you miss the green with your approach shot. If you're greenside in 5, the stat isn't tracked.

More below.

Yes, but we can account for that in looking at the chart above (if we had one for +3s).

It's probably not 66% though.

I mean… the chart above… 180 fairway = 3.08, 100 rough = 3.02.


All that said, I think it's a good question because the real answer is probably "it's quite close." I don't think it's a slam dunk "take the short game."

  • That said, if you KNEW you were going to hit the fairway, you could really lay into the ball. You might hit it 20-30 yards farther if you knew you couldn't miss the fairway.
  • If you KNEW you couldn't fail but to get up and down, you could more aggressively go at flags, because at worst you guarantee par and you might make some more birdies. And so long as your tee shots let you get near the green, you could also rip it a bit more there because if you could get within 30 yards, you're again guaranteed a par.

I have to imagine that neither of those bullet points are part of the question, though.

Of course, the differences are dependent too on how far you hit it, how many fairways you miss (and what the cost is when you do), how good or bad your short game is… etc.

And of course, that chart is PGA Tour players, not +3s.

Shouldn't practically guaranteed par (or better) on all par 3s (usually four on most regulation 18 hole courses) further skew the balance in favor of short game additionally since fairways are a non factor? A tour player may not gain as much but I would think a +3  would be all over that. 

Vishal S.

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33 minutes ago, GolfLug said:

Shouldn't practically guaranteed par (or better) on all par 3s (usually four on most regulation 18 hole courses) further skew the balance in favor of short game additionally since fairways are a non factor? A tour player may not gain as much but I would think a +3  would be all over that. 

I'm not sure what your point is.

The GIR stuff includes par threes. Driving only includes holes with fairways. That's why I used 14 and 18.

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instructor Development, 5 Simple Keys®/Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins • Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 • "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 • Penn-State Behrend Head Coach • • • • • • • • • • :aimpoint: :edel: :true_linkswear:

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24 minutes ago, iacas said:

I'm not sure what your point is.

That guaranteed fairways can  only benefits 14 holes while guaranteed up and downs can benefit the 14 with fairways plus 4 more holes.

Seems like a bonus that you can only cash in on if you pick the up and down guarantee.

Vishal S.

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2 minutes ago, GolfLug said:

That guaranteed fairways can  only benefits 14 holes while guaranteed up and downs can benefit the 14 with fairways plus 4 more holes.

I accounted for that above.

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instructor Development, 5 Simple Keys®/Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins • Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 • "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 • Penn-State Behrend Head Coach • • • • • • • • • • :aimpoint: :edel: :true_linkswear:

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4 minutes ago, iacas said:

I accounted for that above.

Hmm.. I didn't pick up on it. Sorry, fast read it.

Vishal S.

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Erik makes a good point. If I was able to really lay into the ball with everything I had and was guaranteed to hit the fairway, I'd have a short shot onto the green anyway. For the better player who is good with their irons, the guaranteed fairway is more valuable. For the average player like most of us on this forum, the guaranteed up and down will be more valuable. I'm not a better player, so I'd take the guaranteed up and down.

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1 minute ago, DrvFrShow said:

Erik makes a good point. If I was able to really lay into the ball with everything I had and was guaranteed to hit the fairway, I'd have a short shot onto the green anyway. For the better player who is good with their irons, the guaranteed fairway is more valuable. For the average player like most of us on this forum, the guaranteed up and down will be more valuable. I'm not a better player, so I'd take the guaranteed up and down.

The question was a +3.

Worse players miss more greens.

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instructor Development, 5 Simple Keys®/Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins • Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 • "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 • Penn-State Behrend Head Coach • • • • • • • • • • :aimpoint: :edel: :true_linkswear:

Check Out: New Topics | TST Blog | Golf Terms | Instructional Content | Analyzr | 5SK.com | LSW | Instructional Droplets

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