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ksngolfer

Play Smart Golf

19 posts in this topic

Here is a tip that I wanted to give you guys that has always helped my game. It has to do with going with smarter plays in order to build your confidence in the long run. For example, if you are teeing it up on hole #1, if it's under 400 yards, keep the driver in the bag. Go with a 3 wood or if you have really good distance a long iron. Reason being is because it's more important to hit the fairway then it is to get an extra 20 yards. Not only do you leave yourself an easier second shot, you feel good about your first shot, leading to a more confident round.

And remember it's not just about the tee off, but many of these situations will arise on the course where the more aggressive option isn't worth it. Play smarter shots and watch as your frustration, and your golf score, goes down.
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Course management will depend a lot on course so automatically going for fairway wood on shorter holes isn't always better.
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Course management will depend a lot on course so automatically going for fairway wood on shorter holes isn't always better.

Oh I totally agree. This is more a rule of thumb.

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I'm not sure I buy this. Seems to me there was a study not too long ago that said that, for most amateurs (of a variety of handicap ranges), the driver is more likely to find the fairway than the 3-wood, and thus is a better choice unless some trouble is explicitly brought into play by the driver (e.g., a cross hazard).
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What I hate is playing smart and then mis-hitting the shot anyway.

In some ways I can see how a driver would be a smarter play. The ball is teed higher, making the chance of a very thin or fat shot less likely. And unless you hook or slice tremendously, you're still going to be at least 180 yds down the hole. (Granted, you might be in the trees or the water.) But if you pull out a 3-wood and hit behind it or in front of it, you could barely be past the women's tees.

Obviously I'm talking about high handicappers. I can understand how a 3-wood would be a better play for a better player.
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Short hole with a wide open fairway? Driver

450+ yd hole with a tight fairway? 3 wood.

Is basically my rule of thumb for those two.
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First tee? I like the driver because it's got a bigger face. If you've not warmed up, that matters...
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Took me a year to learn how to hit a true jumbo driver - mainly teeing it proper height. Now, I have as much confidence in Driver as my 3W.

Big decision factor = hole design. My area has several holes where fairway disappears into narrow ribbon about 210 yards out - can be dogleg or encroaching hazard area, or a sudden funneling in of the trees. In that case, go with 3W so you don't run out of fairway.

And there's the valley holes. About 220 yds. out fairway falls off into valley. You can: lay up with a 3W, and have a 7-iron into a pin that is fully visible... OR... you can blast it into the valley, and face a blind, uphill 83 yd. wedge shot. Take your pick.
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Lately my driver has been the easiest club for me to hit. Its the only club I can hit teed up(3 wood maybe but I seldom use it). The only time I wont use it for a par 4 or 5 is if you have to lay up for water(a lot of par 4's around here). Yes I dont always hit it straight but I can hit it farther than anything else and id rather hit driver and a short or mid iron rather than hit a hybrid and then have to hit hybrid again for the 2nd shot on a par 4.
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I know this thread is from last year, but I thought I'd give it a bump up to see what kind of feel people have on the subject? I've recently started to look more at a 3W off the tee on par 4's and even irons on par 4's I used to try and hit driver. Instead of getting more par's and bogey's (instead of the doubles and triples or worse) I was getting hitting a driver I'm seeing a lot more birdies and pars. Obviously it's not a blanket solution for all 340 yard par 4's to hit a 4i 9i then putt, but its been a huge help at least considering it.

I used to just walk onto par 4's and 5's and hit driver no matter what. "Hit it down as far as I can then see what's left" just wasn't working out.

I would assume that most experienced golfers have already dealt with this but there is a lot of new players on this site and I thought they may benefit from this type of discussion.

I'm playing as a 15 HDCP now, and it's going down because of this and my "No More Gimmies" thread. Seems to be the little things make big differences.

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Because my driver runs hot and cold, I start with the frame of mind to not use it unless i have to.  I'm either hitting it 275 down the center or I can't keep it in bounds--there is no inbetween.  If when I do pull it out, if I hit it straight, i'll play it more aggressively.

I don't trust my 3W any more than my driver, but I opt for my 4iron that i hit about 225.  It only takes one or two OBs for the 50 yd sacrifice to pay off.

On Saturday, I pulled out my driver twice and shot my personal best, 84.  On Sunday I played a different course and didn't use my driver at all.

If I can hit my 4i then a 6i into the green on a par four, i dont take out the driver.  On a par five, I'd rather keep it in play and hit a full wedge into the green with my third shot than risk OB.  Worst case I'm on in 4.

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Originally Posted by djackson89

I'm playing as a 15 HDCP now, and it's going down because of this and my "No More Gimmies" thread. Seems to be the little things make big differences.



That's about where I am.  I think that if I eliminated the 3-4 stupid mistakes I have each round (fat shots, skulls, etc.), and continue hitting my irons well, I can get into the low 80s.  On a really good day when I get everything going, maybe I could break 80 on a shorter course.

But I think that's about the most i could possibly get out of that style of game.  I think I could get down to a 12 or 13 if I worked out the kinks and kept the driver in the bag.  But that's it.  To get any lower than that, I'm going to have to hit the driver.  But for now, I'm happy with working on everything else, and when I don't know where else to turn to squeeze out a few more strokes, I'll turn to the driver.

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What I've gotten smarter about lately is laying up. Rather that going for the green from 220 yards out (hoping for a perfect shot but likely leaving myself a tough next shot) I've been trying to lay up to leave myself an easy full wedge onto the green.

I still can't bring myself to leave the driver in the bag on most par 4s and 5s though. Seems like every time I do that, I mis-hit my 3-wood anyway.

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Originally Posted by madcityscott

What I've gotten smarter about lately is laying up. Rather that going for the green from 220 yards out (hoping for a perfect shot but likely leaving myself a tough next shot) I've been trying to lay up to leave myself an easy full wedge onto the green.


Do you find this hard to do sometimes?  I mean, doesn't that sometimes call for Driver-PW-SW on a shorter par 5?  Its one thing to hit a mid iron to a full wedge layup rather than a low iron to a long pitch, but I find it difficult to convince myself to go wedge-wedge.

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Usually it would be more like driver-7i-sw (unless I mi-hit my driver, in which case it could be driver-4h-sw).

I did have a situation a few weeks ago where I had to go wedge-wedge, but that was because of a green protected by water around the front right and bunkers back left. (I'm hitting my long irons better since then, so now I would probably go for it.)

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Originally Posted by dsc123

Do you find this hard to do sometimes?  I mean, doesn't that sometimes call for Driver-PW-SW on a shorter par 5?  Its one thing to hit a mid iron to a full wedge layup rather than a low iron to a long pitch, but I find it difficult to convince myself to go wedge-wedge.


I've actually found - by keeping track for a few rounds - that I hit pitch shots substantially closer to the pin than a full wedge. When I know I can't reach the green, I take the most club I'm comfortable with and that will leave me short/long of trouble.

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Originally Posted by chspeed

I've actually found - by keeping track for a few rounds - that I hit pitch shots substantially closer to the pin than a full wedge. When I know I can't reach the green, I take the most club I'm comfortable with and that will leave me short/long of trouble.


Yeah, I would think that is probably normal.  I'm getting there, but need to work on my pitching though.  But even then, say I'm 250 out, I might be better off going 9 Iron to 105-110 then a full wedge (attack wedge for me) as opposed to hitting  3Wood to a pitchable distance since that brings rough, traps, trees, OB into the equation.

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I agree with the sentiment, but it only holds true for consistent golfers. I, for example, hit my driver really well, but use mostly very old clubs and mishit a lot. I totally agree with Madcityscott; A high chance of a mishit shot due to a high 'cap means that there's no guarantee of a safe play. The modern driver is the most forgiving club in the bag in terms of engineering, but some people's swings just suit the short irons, woods, etc. better than the driver, and therefore are better with some part of their set over others.

There was a par 4 the last time I played, about 400 yards with a dogleg right and tight fairway. I hit a really solid 6 iron off the tee, got around some trees and over traps and landed about 200 from the pin, in perfect position to draw a hybrid or hit 2 short irons. It would have been great to get on in 3, but despite being in the perfect position, I mishit 2 shots in a row and proceeded to 3 putt. It didn't matter if I hit a hybrid or 2 short irons, since I bladed the crap out of the ball and got a 7. So hitting driver off the tee probably would not have mattered much. I chose to play less club off the tee because I play a slight draw with the driver, and the fairway bent the opposite way on that hole. In those cases I will generally play short.

On another hole, I hit a couple extra tee shots with my hybrid to try and reach an elevated long par 3, but I mishit it twice off the tee after playing my original ball, a somewhat successful 4 iron 15 yards short, and I ended up with 4 tee shots, one short and right, one 50 yards short and way right, and 2 hanging around the ladies' tee box. (Luckily the course wasn't crowded, or I'd have died of embarrassment.) Though my yardage with the 4i was well suited for this hole, the hybrid for me is a way higher percentage club than the long iron, so it was the safer play to hit it over the green or into the upslope than to try and land the tricky 4i on a perfect shot. In that context, the 4 was an aggressive play, since it was better to be long on this hole due to the slope.

So while many players should use better strategy and course management, I doubt it would have improved my score since few of my shots were pulled off the way I wanted. If you're a decent ball striker or can break 100 regularly, course management might help you get a lower score, but taking less club or hitting sideways out of trouble doesn't stop mishits. I think the majority of people should not bother to try and reach par 5's in 2, for sure. For some, getting on in as many as 4 should be their aim, depending on layout, etc. Most people don't think twice about pulling driver on par 5s, on principle.

But I sucked at everything except not slicing and fairways hit last time (7 or 8 proper ones with a solid shot, with 1 or 2 topped shots that made it into the fairway which I don't count). In my case, it did anything but build confidence, with the exception of hitting my driver. I dreaded being within 100 yards, and rarely hit a good shot from the fairway, but hit several good ones from fairway bunkers and trees. Hell, I hit one that was heavily topped a bit to the right, and bounced off the cart path repeatedly for around 190 yards into the first cut.

I still had fun though; that's the real way to play smart golf, after all. /rant

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