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Staying below the hole - Brilliant or Bogus?


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Leaving Approach Shots Below The Hole (PGA) - Brilliant or Bogus Commentary  

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  1. 1. Are PGA commentators offering good insight when they very often say a player was smart to leave their approach below the hole? Or are they just filling broadcast air with a saying like 'putt for dough'?

    • Bogus (1) - Even with extreme stimps and slopes PGA pros are better off leaving the shortest average putt possible and generally centering their pattern on the hole (while avoiding hazards)
      6
    • Bogus (2) - Even with a very tight shot pattern, average firm & fast conditions plus small contoured greens put a premium on generally maximizing GIR (while avoiding hazards)
      7
    • Brilliant (1) - PGA stimps and slopes are near the edge and rolling a downhill putt to a likely 3-Putt distance is all too easy so keep downhill shorter than uphill putts to even out chances (while avoiding hazards)
      7
    • Brilliant (2) - While it depends on the particular green contours (& hazards) a lot of pin placements pros face are pretty extreme and uphill putts are easier for the average pro to read & make for birdie
      10
    • Other - Explain
      12


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11 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

I think you meant to say 5% ... And you're right.  The announcerstotally overemphasize it. They do that with a lot of things.  Another similar example is how bad it is to short side yourself.  It is a mistake sometimes, but not nearly as often as the announcers would have you believe.

But those guys make their living on hyperbole.  I've mentioned this elsewhere recently but how many times do you hear them say something like "this shot is nearly impossible and he'll be lucky to keep it on the green" and then it's followed up by a pitch shot that stops 5 feet from the hole and the announcer has to try and explain how that is one of the best shots they've ever seen?  Never mind that it happens nearly every week. ;)

I agree listening to them say stuff like that is so irritating. Way too many times I've heard how a tour pro just made an impossible shot that looks a lot like a shot I or some other mere mortal made at some point in similar circumstances (granted, mine is somewhat lucky I executed it). It gets old fast. "Look Dan!  He had a little shrub behind him and he was still able to chip the ball onto this peculiarly flat green and pin location today!  I gotta tell ya, that's near impossible to do!"

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It also had to do with firmness of those greens and that the wind increased on Saturday.  The greens are Bermuda grass. The STIMP for the downhill putts on those greens is going to be higher than

Seeing as how that stuff came from an Aimpoint instructor on the Aimpoint website, it seems fair to assume that he's talking to people who understand and use Aimpoint, and that they DO read the putts

Is having the least amount of break automatically advantageous?  That seems to be what he's saying.  I don't think that is right.  Consider a couple of things: Take a dead straight putt, slightly

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There was an article earlier this year on the Aimpoint website about "Finding Ones". It showed a chart where the zones at 9 and 3 o'clock to the hole were in red(oriented so the slope runs down to 6 o'clock).  Above the hole was yellow and green below. What I took from the article is that on a typical hole with a two or three slope, the pie section below the hole out to about 30 degrees either way would be Aimpoint "Ones". These putts tend to require aiming at the edge of the cup or just outside it. Downhill breaking putts sometimes need to have an extra finger added so the pie above the hole with the "one" reads is smaller. 

I have learned that personally I make more 8 foot uphill "ones" than I do 5 foot sidehill "threes" on the same hole. That article changed slightly my goal of proximity to the hole on pitches asbeing the most important. When I have a pitch under thirty yards, I now adjust my shotzone to circle the big green area with aimpoint "ones" below the hole.

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Personally, I'll take that uphill 3 footer WITH break, than the same downhill 3 foot breaker.  You know the one I'm talking about--make it or it's a 3-putt for sure!

dave

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6 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

If I'm reading this right, the Aimpoint instructor is saying the same thing as most of the golf commentators, the same as the "conventional wisdom",  that it's preferable to have an uphill putt than a downhill putt.  I'm not sure I see a huge difference, as long as the slope/speed combination isn't excessive.  The least desirable location is putting directly across the slope, which means a putt that has the maximum possible break, which makes absolute sense to me.

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12 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

I think you meant to say 5% ... And you're right.  The announcerstotally overemphasize it.

Yes, quite right in my intent. It's mentioned far more by commentators than Erik indicated is likely applicable. IMO Major courses and setups may increase the likelihood of it applying and they represent more like 10% of total annual tournaments so the 5% might be a bit lowball.

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I dunno. Id rather have a downhill putt than an uphill chip on the same green.  Mostly because there is a good chance that uphill chip, will leave me a down hill putt :P

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Its kind of a subjective question. Do i make more uphill putts than downhill putts? Yes, generally i do. But i don't think its death to be above the hole most times unless you're putting on greens that are stimping at like 12 or something. 

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1 hour ago, DaveP043 said:

If I'm reading this right, the Aimpoint instructor is saying the same thing as most of the golf commentators, the same as the "conventional wisdom",  that it's preferable to have an uphill putt than a downhill putt.  I'm not sure I see a huge difference, as long as the slope/speed combination isn't excessive.  The least desirable location is putting directly across the slope, which means a putt that has the maximum possible break, which makes absolute sense to me.

Here's an Aimpoint article dealing with fast greens with slope and distance control: https://aimpointgolf.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/speed-changes-everything/

You're right that the sidehill is tough, but so is the 1/4 downhill. In the OP, I wasn't really considering the straight uphill vs. the straight downhiller.

While the Aimpoint article above does seem to support the below the hole perspective, they don't really address the scoring implications of the increase in distance variability from an change in expected putts due to the distance errors. It could be relatively negligible.

I would have a sneaking suspicion (but no numerical support) that because of the strokes gained 'importance' of the 5 footers and in for pros that might represent close to some kind of minimum distance to drop the top of your 50% or 68% shot pattern toward the hole on slick, sloped greens.

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33 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

 

22 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

If I'm reading this right, the Aimpoint instructor is saying the same thing as most of the golf commentators, the same as the "conventional wisdom",  that it's preferable to have an uphill putt than a downhill putt.  I'm not sure I see a huge difference, as long as the slope/speed combination isn't excessive.  The least desirable location is putting directly across the slope, which means a putt that has the maximum possible break, which makes absolute sense to me.

Is having the least amount of break automatically advantageous?  That seems to be what he's saying.  I don't think that is right.  Consider a couple of things:

Take a dead straight putt, slightly uphill, as an example.  If you hit it with good speed and hit your line, then you'll make it.  Of course, that is true about every single putt from every single distance - assuming that you can read the putt correctly.  But what happens if you miss your line slightly?  If you're coming straight up the hill, then even the most miniscule amount off line will lead to the ball starting to curve AWAY from the hole, thus exacerbating the mistake.  So even with perfect speed, your margin of error on a straight uphill putt is less than half the width of the hole on either side.

On the other hand, if you have a putt with a decent amount of break, as the video in the OP of this thread demonstrates ... 

... on a roughly 10' putt with about 2' of break, you can actually putt the ball with the same speed 8-10" higher up the line than the correct line and still make the putt.  That's a heck of a lot of room for error.  Also consider that there are other ways to make it as well.  Even higher up the slope with a different speed, less break and more speed (certainly not ideal in case you miss, but technically makeable)  Point is, there are a plethora of ways to combine read, bead and speed to make a putt with some break, however there is basically ONE way to make a putt that is straight.

Regarding the bold, I guess what it comes down to is that people are preferring the straighter ones, perhaps, because they have trouble reading the ones with more break.  As somebody who uses Aimpoint (older generation, midpoint, not express) I find the opposite to be true.  For me, it's much harder to feel the difference between flat and 1% than it is 2% and 3%.  Partially because I know that with the variations in my bead and speed combined with the physics shown in the above video, getting it exactly right matters less as well.  And similar to having a trusting pattern on the course, I'd much rather know I need to aim to one side of the hole and that it's definitely curving towards it than to have to aim straight and pray.

(Without getting too in-depth, the physics is sort of similar to the physics in bowling, and it's why everybody plays a curve and not a straight ball)

 

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3 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

On a roughly 10' putt with about 2' of break, you can actually putt the ball with the same speed 8-10" higher up the line than the correct line and still make the putt.  That's a heck of a lot of room for error.  Also consider that there are other ways to make it as well.  Even higher up the slope with a different speed, less break and more speed (certainly not ideal in case you miss, but technically makeable)  Point is, there are a plethora of ways to combine read, bead and speed to make a putt with some break, however there is basically ONE way to make a putt that is straight.

It would be cool to see that done at 1 inch increments. I wonder what the % made for each inch higher you take a putt at the same speed. 

I think the issue with side-hill putts being that most people don't read enough break in them. 

14 minutes ago, natureboy said:

Here's an Aimpoint article dealing with fast greens with slope and distance control: https://aimpointgolf.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/speed-changes-everything/

It looks like the more break the putt has the more influenced it is by the speed changes in the putting stroke. 

Maybe the trick is, either take Aimpoint, even then always error on more break than less break on a side hill putt. 

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9 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

I think the issue with side-hill putts being that most people don't read enough break in them.

Agree.  I think this might be the crux.

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19 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

... on a roughly 10' putt with about 2' of break, you can actually putt the ball with the same speed 8-10" higher up the line than the correct line and still make the putt.  That's a heck of a lot of room for error.  Also consider that there are other ways to make it as well.  Even higher up the slope with a different speed, less break and more speed (certainly not ideal in case you miss, but technically makeable)  Point is, there are a plethora of ways to combine read, bead and speed to make a putt with some break, however there is basically ONE way to make a putt that is straight.

 

 

Now that is hard to understand.  Very counter-intuitive.  I better watch that video.

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10 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

Is having the least amount of break automatically advantageous?  That seems to be what he's saying.  I don't think that is right.  Consider a couple of things:

Take a dead straight putt, slightly uphill, as an example.  If you hit it with good speed and hit your line, then you'll make it.  Of course, that is true about every single putt from every single distance - assuming that you can read the putt correctly.  But what happens if you miss your line slightly?  If you're coming straight up the hill, then even the most miniscule amount off line will lead to the ball starting to curve AWAY from the hole, thus exacerbating the mistake.  So even with perfect speed, your margin of error on a straight uphill putt is less than half the width of the hole on either side.

 

3 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

I think the issue with side-hill putts being that most people don't read enough break in them. 

Seeing as how that stuff came from an Aimpoint instructor on the Aimpoint website, it seems fair to assume that he's talking to people who understand and use Aimpoint, and that they DO read the putts correctly  And he's still suggesting that putts directly across the fall line are the least desirable.  

I see what @Golfingdad is saying about a dead straight putt, that there's only one line that can possibly get you to the center of the hole.  The thing is, there is a relative large range of speeds that will produce a made putt on that line, so you really only have to get one right.  On a putt with more break, there are a multitude of line/speed combinations that will produce a made putt,  but you have to have a matched "pair" (speed and line).

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11 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Maybe the trick is, either take Aimpoint, even then always error on more break than less break on a side hill putt. 

Yes.  The other reason that Aimpoint gives to erroring on the side of more break is that you'll end up closer to the hole on your misses.

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1 hour ago, Zesty said:

I have learned that personally I make more 8 foot uphill "ones" than I do 5 foot sidehill "threes" on the same hole. That article changed slightly my goal of proximity to the hole on pitches asbeing the most important. When I have a pitch under thirty yards, I now adjust my shotzone to circle the big green area with aimpoint "ones" below the hole.

I bet you don't. Inside ten feet, three feet matters quite a bit.

Maybe you do, but our tests keep bearing the importance of being closer as more important.

1 hour ago, DaveP043 said:

If I'm reading this right, the Aimpoint instructor is saying the same thing as most of the golf commentators, the same as the "conventional wisdom",  that it's preferable to have an uphill putt than a downhill putt.  I'm not sure I see a huge difference, as long as the slope/speed combination isn't excessive.  The least desirable location is putting directly across the slope, which means a putt that has the maximum possible break, which makes absolute sense to me.

Dave and I weren't fans of that article and I had even posted a comment that has forever been in moderation to that extent.

Nobody's Shot Zones outside of 50 or 60 yards is really small enough to play for a very small area of the green. 

Additionally the article fails to consider longer putts as mentioned here.

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41 minutes ago, iacas said:

I bet you don't. Inside ten feet, three feet matters quite a bit.

Maybe you do, but our tests keep bearing the importance of being closer as more important.

 

I have practiced my Aimpoint quite a bit over the last couple of years. Even if I am unusual in making more straight eight footers than 3% sidehill 5 footers, isn't there some point for everyone that says you would make more straight putts than heavy breaking putts from the same distance? I see Golfingdad feels that a lesser slope can be harder to discern and I have seen the video where erring on the high side of a breaking putt leaves the misreads quite close if the speed is the same. So I'm going to have to go run some more tests out on the practice green and see if I am way off here. I believe my personal results are influenced by my speed control. When I get my read on a sidehill 5 footer and I hit the putt over and over in practice (so I can confirm that the read and bead are good). If I am just a little bit firm it goes over the hole or if I'm a touch light it goes under the hole. This is when I repeat from the same spot on the same line. On the other hand, when I hit a putt that is straight enough for any break to be within the edge of the cup, it seems that a putt struck online can just get to the hole or be strong enough to go a foot or more by and still go in. Since I trust Aimpoint and feel like I'm pretty good at hitting my line, each inround putt for me is mostly an exercise in distance. So I have been working to have more putts, if possible, that had that larger margin of error in the distance category.

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4 hours ago, Zesty said:

I have practiced my Aimpoint quite a bit over the last couple of years. Even if I am unusual in making more straight eight footers than 3% sidehill 5 footers, isn't there some point for everyone that says you would make more straight putts than heavy breaking putts from the same distance?

Yes, but that point is closer than three feet. Three feet is significant: an eight-footer is 60% longer than a five-footer. Distance is a HUGE part of determining whether a putt is going to be made.

There's a chart in our book cover 3' and 6' putts. My daughter did a study of 3', 6, and 9' putts. IIRC all putts at 6' were made a good bit more often than any putts from 9'. It wasn't even very close. (Her participants hit putts from all 12 "clock" positions.)

Maybe you're unusual, but that's why I'd bet against it: I doubt it. Maybe I'd lose the bet. I just think I have at least a 51% chance of being right. :-)

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