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Psychonana

To get birdies or to avoid bogies, doubles or worse? 

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2 hours ago, Kalnoky said:

Very interesting question. There was an article in Golf Digest last year about how people statistically putt better when they are trying to avoid bogies than when they are trying to make birdies. 

That study (possibly by a non-golfer) didn't account for the order in which the putts to avoid bogey were hit. Those putts usually come after a fellow competitor has hit their birdie or par attempt due to the order of play going to the farthest from the hole. So for a large share of putts to save bogey you may get to 'go to school' on the opponent's putt and gain information about the break near the hole.

1 hour ago, Kalnoky said:

I believe (and please fact check me) they quoted an expert as saying the brain can focus more acutely when trying to avoid loss.  

That may be true generally and even in golf there may still be an effect, but it's likely the 'going to school' on another player's putt is a larger effect. That study may need a follow up.


 

@Psychonana, what is your 'average golfer' model. The largest share of golfers with official handicaps in the U.S. are ~ 14 handicaps. If you include the larger universe of all people who play the game, the average handicap is likely much higher.

For my game, birdies on a course rated 72 would be extremely uncommon. Pars relatively few, Bogeys and Doubles common. Avoiding Triples and quads while trying for bogeys would be my goal/target.

Edited by natureboy

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2 hours ago, Kalnoky said:

Very interesting question. There was an article in Golf Digest last year about how people statistically putt better when they are trying to avoid bogies than when they are trying to make birdies. 

To build on what @natureboy said, when you remove the extra insight gained by seeing more putts at the hole as is common for a par putt versus a birdie putt, the idea of "loss avoidance" becomes rather weakly supported. To the tune of a percent or two. An unremarkable number, really.

I'll put it another way: there have been studies that show players are more likely to make a par putt than a birdie putt, but almost all of the margin by which they do so is explainable by the extra information they've accumulated, leaving virtually no "percent better" to attribute to "loss aversion."

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I was thinking about this while on the course today but human decisions factor in as I'll describe below.  There are a percentage of holes that I reasonably or regularly par; several I should routinely or reasonably birdie or eagle; and several holes I should take what is given after each shot due to their length.  Accuracy isn't my weakness, length on 400+ par 4's or holes with long carries I like to gamble on.  Because I feel I'm pretty accurate I pin seek often also, with a less than desired outcome.  

For example, today, pins were cut tucked on the edges on a few holes.  I played most to the center except for a 60* wedge I went at to the pin from a grass bunker in front of the green that I tried to drive.  Very hard shot.  Outcome was ok, but could have been more than par if I would have thinned it or chunked it.  It landed next to the pin...this time.  Realistically, I should have played out to the green right and took the rough and bunker out of play, and bogey+.   I think with a more structured mental game plan my game will improve and minimize the bigger numbers maybe.

 

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On 1/20/2017 at 8:25 PM, natureboy said:

@Psychonana, what is your 'average golfer' model. The largest share of golfers with official handicaps in the U.S. are ~ 14 handicaps. If you include the larger universe of all people who play the game, the average handicap is likely much higher.

For my game, birdies on a course rated 72 would be extremely uncommon. Pars relatively few, Bogeys and Doubles common. Avoiding Triples and quads while trying for bogeys would be my goal/target.

Well, by saying "average golfers" I was really trying to include all levels really. Certainly all levels that are still actively working on improving their scoring abilities. (as opposed to the lower handicaps who may be more in a "controlling score" mindset.) My post is more about the focus of their efforts to improve their scoring. I see how referring to Birdies really could throw higher handicaps off, in respect to my question. If I was to reword it I would try to find a phrase that apply to all levels... perhaps "their least achieved scores"? most challenging benchmark scores? Dunno, how would you word that?

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1 hour ago, Psychonana said:

Well, by saying "average golfers" I was really trying to include all levels really. Certainly all levels that are still actively working on improving their scoring abilities. (as opposed to the lower handicaps who may be more in a "controlling score" mindset.) My post is more about the focus of their efforts to improve their scoring. I see how referring to Birdies really could throw higher handicaps off, in respect to my question. If I was to reword it I would try to find a phrase that apply to all levels... perhaps "their least achieved scores"? most challenging benchmark scores? Dunno, how would you word that?

I would say it's relative to whatever is 'net par' for your course handicap. On a course rated ~ 72 par for me is like a birdie, bogey is par, double is like bogey.

I think strategically everyone scores better relative to their average by getting 'net pars and birdies' while limiting damage from higher scores. But ususally they score around their average and there's always variability for the individual rounds depending on how consistent their game is.

Probably depends on relative strengths and weaknesses in your game. Maybe a super-consistent player scores better by 'bogey avoidance', while a streakier player is more of a 'birdie maker', taking risks (relative to their skill level) to get more close looks to balance out their more frequent loose shots? An extreme example might be a player who hits a short iron to just keep advancing the ball down the fairway while another player takes driver more of the time and ends up losing a few balls, but they both end up taking about the same number of strokes (including the penalties).

Edited by natureboy

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I feel that the "average" amateur would be better off eliminating the big numbers rather than trying to make more birdies.  If we use the 14 handicapper as our example, inevitably he will card some bogeys.  Most rounds probably don't include any birdies, but there is usually 1 or 2 holes (or more) where they make a double bogey or worse.  It seems like there is at least 1 blow-up hole that keeps them from posting a decent score.  If these could be eliminated, it would do that player more good than trying to cover them up with birdies.

Here is why:

It's easier and more realistic to eliminate a couple of stupid shots that lead to a triple bogey with better course management and clearer thinking and turn it into a bogey than to get those strokes back by making 2 birdies.  I play with guys who know they are going to make 4-6 birdies every round and have the ability to make something happen if they need to pick up a shot by going for a par 5 in two or playing to a tucked pin.  Most mid to high handicappers can't count on birdies.

I believe that mid to high handicappers are outside of their comfort zone when they are putting for birdie, which makes it tough to make a good stroke.  Plus, there isn't really a way to "practice" making birdies, but there are good ways to practice course management to avoid those big numbers.

A great way to do this is if you have an opportunity, play 2 balls on every shot.  The better of the two shots gets picked up and you'll play from the spot of the other ball.  Hit two shots from that position and continue until you hole out.  Instead of playing "best ball", you're playing "worst ball".  It's actually a great way to practice for players of all abilities.  Really early in the morning or late afternoon when the course isn't busy are good times to do it.  It will accelerate your rate of improvement noticeably.   

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2 hours ago, natureboy said:

Maybe a super-consistent player scores better by 'bogey avoidance', while a streakier player is more of a 'birdie maker', taking risks (relative to their skill level) to get more close looks to balance out their more frequent loose shots?

Yep. The whole thing is complicated more if you consider in the 2 playing categories you mention you can also have players of different skill levels. Ultimately you can have a great ball striker that practices bogey avoidance scoring the same as a weaker striker that takes more risks. The highs and lows of both risk results take them to the same place. But who can improve from this level the easiest? Arguably the weak striker that is trained to better control his risks.

4 minutes ago, 1badbadger said:

A great way to do this is if you have an opportunity, play 2 balls on every shot.  The better of the two shots gets picked up and you'll play from the spot of the other ball.  Hit two shots from that position and continue until you hole out.  Instead of playing "best ball", you're playing "worst ball".  It's actually a great way to practice for players of all abilities.  Really early in the morning or late afternoon when the course isn't busy are good times to do it.  It will accelerate your rate of improvement noticeably.

Genius! I love this! 

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I play best when I can stay in the moment and be only concerned about the shot at hand.  So I'm not thinking about getting birdies or avoiding bogeys or worse.

What affects me the most is triple bogeys or worse... that can mess with my focus on the next shot.  When I get a birdie, in general that doesn't affect my emotion or focus at all and neither do pars or bogeys.

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6 hours ago, Psychonana said:

Ultimately you can have a great ball striker that practices bogey avoidance scoring the same as a weaker striker that takes more risks. The highs and lows of both risk results take them to the same place. But who can improve from this level the easiest? Arguably the weak striker that is trained to better control his risks.

Actually, I'd counter-argue that the great ball striker that is practicing bogey avoidance could probably improve more from the same scoring level, because if that player is a 'great ballstriker' then it's likely they aren't taking on enough risk. While the weaker ballstriker is already 'maxed out' to to score on par with the better ballstriker (assuming other parts of their game are about the same). If the weak ballstriker took on much more than their curent level (which might be 'optimal'), the scores might worsen relative to their level (depends on the day, the course, etc).

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10 hours ago, natureboy said:

Actually, I'd counter-argue that the great ball striker that is practicing bogey avoidance could probably improve more from the same scoring level, because if that player is a 'great ballstriker' then it's likely they aren't taking on enough risk. While the weaker ballstriker is already 'maxed out' to to score on par with the better ballstriker (assuming other parts of their game are about the same). If the weak ballstriker took on much more than their curent level (which might be 'optimal'), the scores might worsen relative to their level (depends on the day, the course, etc).

I think both arguments are very valid, it works both ways... So the formula could be:

((Skill x Risk Control) x (conditions + abilities on the day)) = Scoring ability!  :hmm: 

I think all these fundamentals work with and against each other in a very complex manner and ultimately are different for every golfer - My point is that most of us have difficulties finding the combination that works best for us. No amount of ball-striking ability or practice on the range is going to help us get these factors under control when we stand on the 1st tee. But I feel that all golfers can do things to take control and ultimately score better... and higher handicaps stand to benefit most, there is just more wiggle room in there to work with.

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7 hours ago, Psychonana said:

I think both arguments are very valid, it works both ways... So the formula could be:

((Skill x Risk Control) x (conditions + abilities on the day)) = Scoring ability!  :hmm: 

I think all these fundamentals work with and against each other in a very complex manner and ultimately are different for every golfer - My point is that most of us have difficulties finding the combination that works best for us. No amount of ball-striking ability or practice on the range is going to help us get these factors under control when we stand on the 1st tee. But I feel that all golfers can do things to take control and ultimately score better... and higher handicaps stand to benefit most, there is just more wiggle room in there to work with.

I disagree, if your swing is decent enough through effective practice, a tee shot should be pretty easy even if it is the first one. There is no mental game that can improve upon a bad swing, but a good swing can overcome a bad mental game.

Anecdotally, I've had this one hole that really got to me mentally when I played worse bogey golf. I always thought it was a really difficult shot, and the hole was "unfair". There's a big tall tree in the path of a 186 yard par 3 right where the peak of a well struck 175 yard carried shot would typically be. It was my "nemesis hole". Much later, when my swing improved, I decided to play that course again. When I got on it, I was still mentally intimidated by that hole, and it took a few times of me simply hitting over that tree to get over the mental anguish I had developed with a bad swing. In fact, the last several times that I played it, I didn't even give it a second thought. Sure, I've hooked and sliced my 6i all over the place, but it was always over the tree. My confidence grew because I knew I could carry it because I could hit range balls with that same trajectory time after time. My swing (which still isn't all that good by any means) overcame my bad mental game.

You should consider getting a copy of LSW. It addresses many of your thoughts. . .

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Note: This thread is 994 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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