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Stop Aiming at the Flag!!!


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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.

You'll get a lot more birdies (and hit it a lot closer more frequently) than you think…

As a 5SK instructor pointed out:

Those pins on the edges, too? You'll push or pull a wedge to them fairly often as well.

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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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@iacas, you ment ioned "Put your scatter plot around the pin"?

Is this part of "Shot Tracker" where you can view every shot (point) from multiple rounds on a selected hole?

Back to OP, selecting a target with the best potential outcome = less opportunity for trouble.

Going with the thought of "center of the green" usually has a greater margin for success and less for getting into trouble.

I tend to think of these as safer areas in the event the shot is slightly wayward.

It certainly can make easier up and downs when I miss a shot.

Club Rat

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@iacas, you mentioned "Put your scatter plot around the pin"?

Is this part of "Shot Tracker" where you can view every shot (point) from multiple rounds on a selected hole?

Not exactly. I was saying to @SavvySwede to take his wedge scatter plot and center it on the green. There will still be plenty of balls that finish awfully close to the flag. And you shoot lower scores with a 50-foot putt than a 15-yard bunker shot or pitch from the rough.

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You guys are making valid points. As I said earlier, I attack pins if they are not in a ridiculous location. For example, if the pin is to the severe right, I aim slightly more to the left instead of going straight at it. Even if I push it, I'll end up on the fringe. If I really push it or slice, I deserve to be in the rough. It's rare for good players to severely push or slice a wedge.  If the pin is tucked behind a trap, I still aim at the pin but try to carry it further.

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You guys are making valid points. As I said earlier, I attack pins if they are not in a ridiculous location. For example, if the pin is to the severe right, I aim slightly more to the left instead of going straight at it. Even if I push it, I'll end up on the fringe. If I really push it or slice, I deserve to be in the rough. It's rare for good players to severely push or slice a wedge.  If the pin is tucked behind a trap, I still aim at the pin but try to carry it further.

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

Now, you may be a way above average wedge player.

But I doubt it, and the odds are against it. ;-)

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I love when people try and challenge Erik lol.

One day, somebody will prove him wrong (but not today :8) ). :-P

Now, you may be a way above average wedge player.

But I doubt it, and the odds are against it.

I would say I have the putting/short game of a 16 handicap and ball striking of a 0 handicap. :-P

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I would say I have the putting/short game of a 16 handicap and ball striking of a 0 handicap.

Well then you definitely want to hit the green and NOT leave yourself tricky short-game shots! :D

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Well then you definitely want to hit the green and NOT leave yourself tricky short-game shots! :D

I walked right into that one, didn't I?

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I would say I have the putting/short game of a 16 handicap and ball striking of a 0 handicap.

You and I might make a good scramble team since I'm about the opposite. :beer:

I can get up and down from anywhere as long as I can find it (which is the problem).

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A handful of times each year, especially just after the greens have been punched I play a game with the golf team. The green is the hole so all you have to do is hit the green and you are done. It is amazing how their scores change when you have a different mindset when going into the green. It's a great way to play and adds some nice variation.

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Like others, I think this is great advice and I'll try my hardest to stick to it this year... One question, when you say to aim at the center of the green, does that mean the center of the width and depth of the green? For example, if the green is 20 yds deep and the flag is all the way in back, should my target distance be 10 yds into the green (let's say with an 8 iron)? I ask because I (and I'm guessing most lower handicapped golfers) am much more consistent with distance than I am direction.
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After reading through a lot of the comments I should add this now.

This SEEMS as if it is very easy to implement in your game.  It SEEMS that you should just be able to read the advice and start heeding it.  It WON'T be that easy I can assure you. I have struggled at times in my own game to take my own advice.  Challenge yourself to see how good you can be at acting on this.  Make aggressive plays to conservative targets. Again, it WON'T be easy :-P

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After reading through a lot of the comments I should add this now.

This SEEMS as if it is very easy to implement in your game.  It SEEMS that you should just be able to read the advice and start heeding it.  It WON'T be that easy I can assure you. I have struggled at times in my own game to take my own advice.  Challenge yourself to see how good you can be at acting on this.  Make aggressive plays to conservative targets. Again, it WON'T be easy

Absolutely correct. I remember a few holes were I know the pin placements are ones you DO NOT GO AT. I really have to say, "MATT DON'T". Then after hitting the shot I go, "WTF I SAID DONT" Sometimes even thinking about it doesn't change habits. :-D

I like playing aggressive, its fun. Don't know something about that little flag there that says, "HIT AT ME!!!"

Oh, how do you guys handle big greens. I play on a course that I think has small greens. Well they are usually +/- 10-15 yards from the center. Not sure what is considered a big green. But what if you come across one that is like 40-50 yards wide. Can you break the greens down into halves?

Of course there is the Donald Ross greens were it might be better to just be off the green than on the other side of the green. One hole I played is a par 3, and a good 1.5 high hump runs down the 2nd third of the green to the left. If the pin is on the left, I rather be at the pin or just off on the left than in the middle of the green on the right. Just saying the chip and putt is much easier than a 2 putt.

I probably get that the general tips is situation based, so I am just spouting extremes here. :-D

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A handful of times each year, especially just after the greens have been punched I play a game with the golf team. The green is the hole so all you have to do is hit the green and you are done. It is amazing how their scores change when you have a different mindset when going into the green. It's a great way to play and adds some nice variation.

Interesting.  I don't get to play enough that I'll want to do this in a random round, but it's a really interesting idea.  Maybe I'll propose this to my golf buddies the next time we play a recently punched course.

After reading through a lot of the comments I should add this now.

This SEEMS as if it is very easy to implement in your game.  It SEEMS that you should just be able to read the advice and start heeding it.  It WON'T be that easy I can assure you. I have struggled at times in my own game to take my own advice.  Challenge yourself to see how good you can be at acting on this.  Make aggressive plays to conservative targets. Again, it WON'T be easy

Too true.  Like I pretty much said above, I've known I should be doing this for a long time, but honestly only do it totally consistently if I've got 5i or longer in my hands.  And I basically never do it with a PW or 9i even though I know I'm FAR from even scratch level good with those clubs, much less pro, and even the pros miss the green 20% with a SW (100-125).  Of course, I think they'd miss less than 20% on the courses we all play, but the point remains.

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There is an interesting article this week about Jimmy Walker in GolfWeek by Alex Miceli.

~~Records and statistics matter not when you can put a “W” in the win column, yet stats were what made Walker better by his own admission. It was just a simple thing, looking at his scoring average on par 4s and par 3s. Two years ago, Walker took a look and couldn'’t believe he was as poor as he was on par 4s. In 2012, Walker was 62nd in par-4 scoring average with a 4.05 average. In 2013, Walker made a conscious effort to change his scoring on par 4s and was second on the PGA Tour with a 3.99 average. In 2014, he's fifth with a 3.91 average. “I was 60 or 70 over on the par 4s,” Walker said. “And I just got to thinking like, 'Wow if I just parred every par 4, I would save 60 some odd shots this year.' And if you did the math on it, at a golf tournament, I would have won one. And so that got me kind of thinking." Walker looked at his par-3 scoring average next. Last year, he was 161st on the PGA Tour with an average of 3.13. So far in 2014, Walker is 49th with an average of 3.01. The fix to both the par-4 and par-3 scoring was simple: Don’t play too aggressively; and let the birdies come, but make pars. “I really felt like I thought to win out here you really needed to make a ton of birdies and you needed to do this and you needed to do that," Walker said. “And I feel like I've kind of come to the realization that par's a really good score sometimes. And it's about grinding your pars out and making pars.”

Just wanted to quote that from another thread…

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Make aggressive plays to conservative targets.

Love this sentence.  This would make a really good on course mantra.  Going to try and burn it into my skull now. :)

Absolutely correct. I remember a few holes were I know the pin placements are ones you DO NOT GO AT. I really have to say, "MATT DON'T". Then after hitting the shot I go, "WTF I SAID DONT" Sometimes even thinking about it doesn't change habits.

I remember reading somewhere (probably a Bob Rotella book) where he talked about how your brain doesn't really process the "don't" part of those thoughts.  Come to the tee with a negative  - "don't hit it in the water," or "don't push it OB" - and you find yourself doing precisely that a lot more than when you are able to shut out the distractions and think positively ... "Hit the center of the green" or "Hit that sprinklerhead in the center of the fairway."

--------------------------------------------------------

I struggled with this yesterday on a few holes.  I played a RTJ course that has two par 3's that are very similar.  Water short and right, and a green with a huge tier in the middle, and in both cases, the pin was tucked to the right.  Here's a picture of one of them:

The pin yesterday was at the red dot.  The red line represents a huge tier (as it runs towards the front of the green, the tier becomes less severe).  Any ball coming off that tier is going to go past the hole and likely end up in the fringe between the green and the water.  Anything with speed will roll into the water.  Knowing the course, it's really hard when you come to this tee as a mediocre player knowing that if you risk going for the pin, you are bringing double into play, however the "safe" option is going to require that you make an 8-10 footer for par.

Now that I've played it a few times with that pin, I realize that the correct play (I think), and in keeping with Dave's rule, is to aim for the center front edge of the green.  This will keep you off the tier and make a 2 putt a lot more of a possibility while keeping the risk of the water lower.

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Absolutely correct. I remember a few holes were I know the pin placements are ones you DO NOT GO AT. I really have to say, "MATT DON'T". Then after hitting the shot I go, "WTF I SAID DONT" Sometimes even thinking about it doesn't change habits.

I like playing aggressive, its fun. Don't know something about that little flag there that says, "HIT AT ME!!!"

Oh, how do you guys handle big greens. I play on a course that I think has small greens. Well they are usually +/- 10-15 yards from the center. Not sure what is considered a big green. But what if you come across one that is like 40-50 yards wide. Can you break the greens down into halves?

Of course there is the Donald Ross greens were it might be better to just be off the green than on the other side of the green. One hole I played is a par 3, and a good 1.5 high hump runs down the 2nd third of the green to the left. If the pin is on the left, I rather be at the pin or just off on the left than in the middle of the green on the right. Just saying the chip and putt is much easier than a 2 putt.

I probably get that the general tips is situation based, so I am just spouting extremes here.

Most of the courses I play have small greens and the one I play the most has tiny greens. Not much decision to make on those because the middle of the green is going to leave a reasonable putt.

When I go to courses that have big greens, and especially multi-tiered greens, I try to get on the correct level shading toward the center of the green from whichever side the pin is on.

I do play one course fairly often that has some greens with serious back to front slope. At that course I try to stay short of the pin at all costs, even if it means a risk of coming up short of the green. That course is definitely the exception to the rule and some of the greens would be considered unfair by most golfers because the hole is always on too much slope.

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