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Relative Importance of the Long Game, Short Game, etc. (Mark Broadie, Strokes Gained, LSW, etc.)

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Hey guys and gals - stumbled across this interesting article about this guy who teaches grad courses at Columbia University (Mark Broadie) that did a study and determined that the long game is more important than the short game (esp. for the regular Joe).

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/21/sports/golf/21pennington.html?scp=4&sq;=golf&st;=cse

Here's one excerpt:

It is the long game that proves to be the biggest factor when examining the difference in scores between pros and amateurs and even between low- and high-handicap amateurs. If, for example, a PGA Tour player were available to hit shots for an amateur from 100 yards and in, or available to hit all the shots leading to the 100-yard mark, Broadie says the amateur would benefit the most from having the PGA player hit the long shots, not the short ones.

Thoughts? I'm not sure I buy it yet, I'd have to read the original text of his argument, but it is interesting nonetheless!

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I totally buy this. Not only is the source reputable, but it makes good sense. When I was recording my short game scores I noticed that, despite the truth that most of my shots were in the short game, most of my score variance came from how well or poorly my longer shots were hit. I lose a huge number of strokes to errant shots that land in hazards or even out of bounds. His reference to "awful shots" reinforced this with me.

I love hearing counterpoints to blindly accepted golf wisdom, especially when it's backed up with such great research! I would love to hear Pelz's comments, he being such a fan of research.

The article also made reference to the fact that it may be true that practicing your short game has the most immediate benefit since it requires less practice to see a greater improvement. I also agree with this, and would use this thinking to explain why I spend most of my time practicing my long game; since it requires more time to see benefits, I, in turn, give it more time. I'm more interested in my long term improvement as opposed to a spike in performance on any given weekend.
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I generally agree - there is a level an amateur needs to reach where short game gets more important - but before that he should try to get a straight shot/repeatable swing in order to be able to even get to the green into regulation.

Whats the best shortgame in the world worth if he cant even reach the green since he hooks/slices/tops/fatsies the ball all over the place....

Last year i spent about 75 % of my time on the range - now its like 25% and even then i practice a lot of shots within 100m... If i hit 10 balls with my driver on the range its a lot cuz i know i´m capable of reaching any green in reg easily - now lets work on the stuff when i miss the green.
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I completely agree with it. If you can't put your ball in the fairway, you're not going to have a good day. (Unless your Tiger Woods playing the US Open)
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Hitting the fairway off the tee is by far WAY more important than distance off the tee. Many amateurs go for distance and end up in trouble, thus losing valuable strokes.

It is easier to hit hazards, out of bounds, and just general trouble with a Driver, than it is with a wedge.
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I disagree with the notion that the long game is more important than the short game. Drive for show, putt for dough.
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Short game is much more important...I mean, obviously you can't be hitting the ball O.B., but if your in the rough, saving up and down's when you miss greens is VITAL to shooting low.

I know a lot of people who had a great long game, and were terrible inside of 50 yards, and they never really shot any great rounds...
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On a personal note I score better when my short game is working. I can have brilliant days off the tee, hitting every fairway but unless my shortgame is in good working order I'll struggle to score.
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For my game stroke and distance penalties and other penalty shots are the #1 problem in my game. It doesn't matter if it's off the tee, in the rough or in the middle of the fairway. Losing a golf ball and scoring the stroke and having to add one and then hit again, possibly from the same spot inflates my scoring. Working on that is always a work in progress. That being said right behind it is I do believe that long irons are my second biggest weakness. More often than not when outside 125 yards I am still pitching on the next shot. 125-100 is a tweener range. When 100 and in I am more often than not either on the green or chipping which means I have a much greater chance of getting the ball closer to the hole for an up/down, whether it's for Par, Bogey or other.
Now for putting. I work on either 6' and in or lag putting from 25' and beyond to get it within 6'. 0-3' is ideal but reality is I might hit that 50-50 and so 4-6 feet stats need to be improved. I want to avoid the three putt and beyond 6' my numbers are so low it's 90%+ a two putt from that distance. Obviously others games will have other strengths and weaknesses but those are mine.
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I believe the short game is WAAAY more important as far as lower scores. If you can't put the ball on the green and putt it in the cup, what the heck are you playing for? Its about getting the ball in the cup. Even if go OB off the T, and lose 2 strokes, or. . .let's say you drive a 285 yd. par4, and your putter simply sucks--takes you 3 putts to get in, maybe 4 if you suck as bad as most of the monster long hitters I see playing. The guy who hits a 200yd drive and sticks a LW from 85 yards to 5 feet and works his putter like a magic wand, is probably going to end up with a better score than you.

I'm 37, can only hit about 33% of my fairways with my driver, but I can work the wedges, shorter irons, and putter. I know that's what keeps my scores in the 80's.
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Since I still haven't read the original text, the gist of his argument (from what I gather) is that while the short game obviously is important, it is only really important for near or below scratch golfers.

We all know that the pros generally can hit it off the tee without problem, so for them the short game is the most important. But the discrepancy in shooting the lower score when comparing a high handicapper to someone near or below scratch is magnified much more off the tee. From what I've witnessed (myself included) the high handicapper tends to get into the most trouble just trying to hit it long off the tee. The low/scratch golfer tends to get into more trouble when taking risky shots (short game included).
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It seems like the researcher needs to define "amateur." I would think that for someone who is a 20+ handicap, long-game improvement would be most critical because they are more susceptible to hitting OB and into trees and hazards. So, for a high handicapper, the shots from 100+ yards present the most risk of being score-killers.

But if you are talking about the difference between a pro and a 6-handicapper, then it's a different story, I would think. Single-digit handicappers would more quickly narrow the gap between themselves and the pros by focusing on their short games.

I also agree with the earlier posts suggesting that a high handicapper should still focus more on the short game because that is where they will see the fastest improvement. It doesn't take any athletic prowess to learn how to chip with proper technique or to develop a reasonably good feel for putting. Those things can be learned much more readily than how to hit a driver 300 yards down the middle with a slight draw.
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I think Dave Pelz would gladly start a heated debate with this guy.
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If it takes you 8 shots to get to within 100 yards of the green and you get up and down in two, you have made a 10, so yes the long game is important, at the end of the day the two portions of the game go hand in hand and you can't shoot good scores with one but not the other.
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Haven't you guys ever been paired up with the senior whose drives max out at about 160 yards, hits all of his fairways, f/w woods and irons are fairly accurate but don't go far, and rarely 3 putts? These guys take our nassaus the majority of the time.
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Short game is nothing to me. My long game has taught me the touch I need for the short game because a full swing is nothing but an extension of a short swing!! Honestly, I can count the amount of times I have practiced putting and chipping on my hands.

Some days I have the touch of a rapist when it comes to putting, but I can hit it long and straight. I'd take this type of play any day.

You can learn to break 80 in a matter of months, not years as some people think it... if you put down the putters and start practicing one simple, repeating swing that you can use on all shots.

If you don't believe this you'll never do it. As you think you shall become.
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If it takes you an errant tee shot into the water, penalty stroke and a drop, a topped ball out of the rough, a fat shot short of the green, and a pitch up to get close to the hole... then obviously the long game is more important at that point.

If you 4 putt from 20ft out then its clear your short game is the problem.

For amateurs and beginners... their biggest problem is tee to green. Not too long ago I would shoot 100 and only 31 of the strokes would be putts... so... was my short game the problem or was it my long game?
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but the fact is if you’ve got two hours to practice, you probably won’t start hitting the ball longer or straighter in that time period,” Broadie said. “But you could probably get better at your putting or chipping in two hours of practice.”

I really like that statement.

Im not going to make the same situational arguments as everyone has before, but i will say i believe the short and the long game are equal.
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