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Stop Aiming at the Flag!!!


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thanks for you insight. i was just wondering cause i tend to  get upset with myself when i don't get as close i think i should be depending on the club in my hand.

3,4,5 iron on the green is good 6,7 i should able to go at it. 8,9,pw i think i should able to really go at it

but based off what your saying i shouldn't beat myself up over it.


I think a lot of us do that for a couple of reasons.

1. most of think we are better than we are and

2. when I watch touring pros on TV, they seldom show someone missing the green from 100 yds, even though stats tell us that it happens quite a bit.

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Here is a tidbit of information from our upcoming book Lowest Score Wins (math still being tweaked to its, exact, final form but you'll get the point ): Try this the next thousand times y

Got this email today 👍  

I agree. @pave , I've been a member of this forum for several years now and I have seen many instances where someone new shows up with a ton of experience and expertise. Unfortunately, far too

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This reminds me of the landing circle targeting system they use in golf video games, and when I think about it like that, it makes total sense.

If I aim at the flag, I'm putting the pin in the middle of my circle, so I can miss both left and right of the pin. If I aim the circle on the green and catch the pin somewhere inside it, my shot will be on the green, and I might "miss" it by the hole every once in a while.

I don't know why I never looked at it like that before, thanks for showing me a different perspective.

Right.  The reason we are so easy to stray from this is the same reason we think that "time and money" is why we're all not scratch golfers.  We think we're way better than we actually are, and we say to ourselves "but, if I hit it perfectly where I'm aiming then I'm going to leave myself with a 20' putt.  That's stupid!"

We need to spend more time in the real world and compare the unperfect shots, instead of the super-rare, perfect shots.  Would we rather be putting from 50', or blasting out of that bunker (or something worse)? :beer:

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I'd only note that it I think where you should aim still depends on your shot shape and current swing (note, not where the pin is).  I'm trying to learn to play a push-draw.  I'll have some days where my misses are mostly straight-ish pushes that end up right of where I'm aiming and days where my misses are mostly push-overdraws or straight draws that end up left of where I'm aiming.  If my misses are fairly consistent on a given day, then once I've figured that out I'll take that into account when I'm aiming.  If I'm mostly missing right, I'll aim for the center-left of the green.  If I'm mostly missing left, I'll aim for the mid-right of the green.

I agree that we should all do this more with shorter clubs.  I'm pretty consistent with this kind of aiming (i.e., ignore the pin, aim center green with spray misses or opposite side of your dominant miss direction if you have one that day) when going for a green with long irons.  Too many days I'll hit a few decent irons and get cocky and stop aiming like this already with a 7i, which if I stop and think I know is dumb.  And I only aim like this with a PW or 9i if I'm playing terribly that day.  I agree that's dumb and not backed up by the numbers.  In fact, I can recall a shot from just my last round where I had a PW approach to a par 4 green with a pin in the back left.  I aimed at the pin, pulled it just 25-30', and ended up near the lip in the green side bunker.  A miss that much in either direction if I'd aimed at the center of the green would have given me a GIR.

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Right.  The reason we are so easy to stray from this is the same reason we think that "time and money" is why we're all not scratch golfers.  We think we're way better than we actually are, and we say to ourselves "but, if I hit it perfectly where I'm aiming then I'm going to leave myself with a 20' putt.  That's stupid!"

We need to spend more time in the real world and compare the unperfect shots, instead of the super-rare, perfect shots.  Would we rather be putting from 50', or blasting out of that bunker (or something worse)?

I'd add that it's not only our over-inflated sense of how good we are.  There's also the psychological factor that when we do hit those great shots, we want to be really close to the pin!  It's much less satisfying to have your one perfect approach shot (the one that you hit perfectly and flew exactly how you imagined and landed right where you were aiming) on the day end up at 35' cause the pin was well left on that green that day and you were aiming at the center, but have your one really close approach to 10' only be close because the pin was well right that day on that hole and you aimed center of the green and happened to hit a fairly big, but not huge, push.

Just another way of saying what you said, that we need to step back and take the bigger view to scoring better I guess...

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I'd only note that it I think where you should aim still depends on your shot shape and current swing (note, not where the pin is).  I'm trying to learn to play a push-draw.  I'll have some days where my misses are mostly straight-ish pushes that end up right of where I'm aiming and days where my misses are mostly push-overdraws or straight draws that end up left of where I'm aiming.  If my misses are fairly consistent on a given day, then once I've figured that out I'll take that into account when I'm aiming.  If I'm mostly missing right, I'll aim for the center-left of the green.  If I'm mostly missing left, I'll aim for the mid-right of the green.

I agree that we should all do this more with shorter clubs.  I'm pretty consistent with this kind of aiming (i.e., ignore the pin, aim center green with spray misses or opposite side of your dominant miss direction if you have one that day) when going for a green with long irons.  Too many days I'll hit a few decent irons and get cocky and stop aiming like this already with a 7i, which if I stop and think I know is dumb.  And I only aim like this with a PW or 9i if I'm playing terribly that day.  I agree that's dumb and not backed up by the numbers.  In fact, I can recall a shot from just my last round where I had a PW approach to a par 4 green with a pin in the back left.  I aimed at the pin, pulled it just 25-30', and ended up near the lip in the green side bunker.  A miss that much in either direction if I'd aimed at the center of the green would have given me a GIR.

i hit a draw and suffer from an over draw "hook" myself so i try to play the right side of the green on approach shots. my score goes up when i try to get cute around the greens (which is another topic all together) but when i'm missing i'm missing left because of too much movement on the ball.

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I'll have some days where my misses are mostly straight-ish pushes that end up right of where I'm aiming and days where my misses are mostly push-overdraws or straight draws that end up left of where I'm aiming.  If my misses are fairly consistent on a given day, then once I've figured that out I'll take that into account when I'm aiming.  If I'm mostly missing right, I'll aim for the center-left of the green.  If I'm mostly missing left, I'll aim for the mid-right of the green.

In both of those cases, you're playing "the shot you have that day" so that it ends up in the area that maximizes your chances of hitting the green (or the right segment of the green, or gets you on but away from trouble, etc.). You're exactly right, and just saying it a bit differently. This is all we're talking about… it just isn't a shot cone conversation. :-)

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Very good advice, something that I have been aware of but rarely do.

Would there be an argument to say that there should be an upper limit for the distance where the green is attempted from (for the various HC ranges)?

I think it's probably just as important, if not, more important.

I know myself that if I am 190-200 out from the green then it's a real low % shot and I "try" to be sensible and play a shorter club to a safe zone.

Again, this is something I am aware of but fail to do it often enough.

That 3 wood to the green rarely finds the green for me, but often finds a bunker, deep rough or OOB....

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I think it's probably just as important, if not, more important.

I know myself that if I am 190-200 out from the green then it's a real low % shot and I "try" to be sensible and play a shorter club to a safe zone.

Again, this is something I am aware of but fail to do it often enough.

That 3 wood to the green rarely finds the green for me, but often finds a bunker, deep rough or OOB....

That's not the topic, but that topic is pretty well addressed in this thread: http://thesandtrap.com/t/69652/235-out-on-this-par-five-whats-the-play .

Short version: if attempting to reach the green is going to result in bad enough trouble often enough, lay up as close as you can that avoids trouble most of the time.

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I think this should be modified. 10 handicaps and lower should aim at the flag from their PW yardage and in (from the fairway). If you're a single digit cap and can't attack flags with a wedge then you must have amazing short game.

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I think this should be modified. 10 handicaps and lower should aim at the flag from their PW yardage and in (from the fairway). If you're a single digit cap and can't attack flags with a wedge then you must have amazing short game.

Nope. :-D Not modifying it.

Did you see the bit about the median PGA Tour player?

People think they're a lot better than they are.

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Nope.  Not modifying it.

Did you see the bit about the median PGA Tour player?

People think they're a lot better than they are.

I just read it. Is that the statistic for all shots from 125-150 yards (including shots from the rough, fairway bunker, etc.), or only shots from the fairway? Also, the I would say that about 80% of greens that amateurs play on are softer and slower than how the greens are set up on the PGA Tour, and the pin placements are usually much more generous.

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I just read it. Is that the statistic for all shots from 125-150 yards (including shots from the rough, fairway bunker, etc.), or only shots from the fairway? Also, the I would say that about 80% of greens that amateurs play on are softer and slower than how the greens are set up on the PGA Tour, and the pin placements are usually much more generous.

Okay. Keep firing at the flag. I can't make you stop shooting higher scores than you're capable of with a small strategic adjustment. :-D

http://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.074.html#2013 (median is 20' from 100-125 yards from the fairway ).

http://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.028.html#2013 (median from 100-125 yards from the fairway is only 0.1 strokes under par)

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Okay. Keep firing at the flag. I can't make you stop shooting higher scores than you're capable of with a small strategic adjustment.

http://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.074.html#2013 (median is 20' from 100-125 yards from the fairway).

http://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.028.html#2013 (median from 100-125 yards from the fairway is only 0.1 strokes under par)

How about this: I'll play 10 rounds aiming at the middle of the green from 100 yards and out, and 10 rounds aiming at the middle of the green from 145 yards and out. If I play more strokes over par from the latter scenario, I will aim at the middle of the green from 100 yards and out every round from then on.

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How about this: I'll play 10 rounds aiming at the middle of the green from 100 yards and out, and 10 rounds aiming at the middle of the green from 145 yards and out. If I play more strokes over par from the latter scenario, I will aim at the middle of the green from 100 yards and out every round from then on.

Ten rounds isn't necessarily enough to get statistically relevant results (it is potentially about 150 shots, though), but (and I don't mean this to sound at all aggressive or rude) do whatever you want. I can lead a horse to water… :-D

You'd have to keep track of your score from those shots onward, discarding the shots that came before it on that hole. If during one of your "hit it at the middle of the green" rounds you put three balls OB and drive like a blind crazy person the rest of the round, that would obviously skew the results if you considered total score only.

I'm suggesting that we've already done these calculations (we had several low, middle, and high handicappers play shots from various distances and finish out), and that we know how the numbers turn out. We had a lot more than 150 results as well.

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I think this should be modified. 10 handicaps and lower should aim at the flag from their PW yardage and in (from the fairway). If you're a single digit cap and can't attack flags with a wedge then you must have amazing short game.

What loft pitching wedges apply? Surely someone with a 42 degree will have a longer distance than a 50 degree. Is that still a good idea? Is that stock yardage or maximum yardage? And what about the first cut? And surely you don't mean attack every flag from that yardage? What if it's sitting against a bunker a yard from the cup? And for that matter, what about greens where you can spin back off of them?

Sure you can get to single digits without a great short game but without attacking flags. Keep it in play off the tee, hit half of greens in regulation and don't 3 putt. Voila, single digits. Just always aim at the center of the green when you need to get up and down so you minimize your risk to bogey. Maybe you won't get many birdies but that's not the only way to go lower. And hell, attack the flags on par 5s if you want or reach them in 2 if you want birdies, or make long putts more often. I could see very good golf being played without attacking pins from a distance.

The entire point of this maxim is that it's slightly stupid to hit into any flag from anywhere unless it happens to be on the safest spot. I think all the yardages given are probably secondary to this point.

http://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.361.html#2013  125 yards and in is less than a PW for most of the tour guys, and they're thrilled to get over 20% of birdies. And they still have about the same chance to miss the green from that range as they do to make a birdie. The tour guys miss a lot less greens and make a lot more birdies than us, so is it worthwhile when you're MORE likely to miss the green than get a birdie?

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