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Psychonana

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

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Here's something that's been on my mind a lot recently that the board may have some insight into: What is easier for the amateur golfer... To get birdies or to avoid bogies, doubles or worse? 

It's interesting that human nature tends to make us want to fight to get the harder achieved birdie but often care little about minimizing the fallout from a badly played hole. On average how many birdie opportunities do we have compared to scrambling holes. By a margin its more scrambling, certainly in my case. Doesn't it make sense to focus more on saving strokes rather than gaining them. So why isn't this a focus in our training? How do you practice this? Any thoughts?

Edited by Psychonana

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All I can comment on is the state my own game these days.

1st. I make more pars than anything else.  50%+

2nd are bogey 1s. 40%+

3rd are birdies, and bogey 2s+. 5%+/-

Those percentages are some what of a guess, since I never actually,   tried to figure them out. I always play for par on every hole. If I walk off the green with a bird, that's just gravy for me. If I got a bogey, that's not a bad thing either. 

When I play serious (for me) golf, I am always looking at the number 80 as a score for the 18 holes. 

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For a mid to upper 80s player, it's very difficult to keep a double bogey off the card (easy to get one).  And it's rare to get a birdie (one every few rounds perhaps). 

But I don't practice with the end result of my hole scores in mind. I just look at how many opportunities I get, and how successful I am at those opportunities. 

For putting I'll get nearly 18 decent length initial putts (maybe a tap in or two), plus I'll have a decent share of knee knockers.  That's over 20 opportunities. Plus I know I lose several strokes to PGA players on those. 

For short game I have at most 15 chances. Personally I feel pretty good at those- even without much practice. Plus, to get up and down, I usually need a good putt anyway. 

So to get a birdie or to scramble, putting is key for me. When I warm up for a round I might practice 15 minutes on putting but only a few chipping. 

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All I can comment on is the state my own game these days.

1st. I make more pars than anything else.  50%+

2nd are bogey 1s. 40%+

3rd are birdies, and bogey 2s+. 5%+/-

Those percentages are some what of a guess, since I never actually,   tried to figure them out. I always play for par on every hole. If I walk off the green with a bird, that's just gravy for me. If I got a bogey, that's not a bad thing either. 

When I play serious (for me) golf, I am always looking at the number 80 as a score for the 18 holes. 

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It's a combination of the golfer and the course he's playing.

Obviously, I'm a high-capper. When I'm playing for score on most courses I look to avoid big numbers. Bogey is my par. Par is my birdie and I shouldn't be throwing a tantrum over a double. A hole on the home course (Kittyhawk, Hawk No. 12) typically has my second shot at about 165 yards over water. The likelihood my hitting the green there isn't particularly high. I usually whack a seven-iron off to the left and away from the water and try to get up and down. That said, we've got a few courses in the area where expectations change. Short, wide-open courses (like Community's Dales course) make me think I ought to get pars more often than not and have a stab at a birdie or two. 

While there is a lot of things that the City of Dayton courses leave to be desired, I really like the fact that I can play a variety of courses that allow me to adjust my approach accordingly.

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3 minutes ago, Patch said:

All I can comment on is the state my own game these days.

1st. I make more pars than anything else.  50%+

2nd are bogey 1s. 40%+

3rd are birdies, and bogey 2s+. 5%+/-

Those percentages are some what of a guess, since I never actually,   tried to figure them out. I always play for par on every hole. If I walk off the green with a bird, that's just gravy for me. If I got a bogey, that's not a bad thing either. 

When I play serious (for me) golf, I am always looking at the number 80 as a score for the 18 holes. 

You see this fascinates me, Patch, you make my point in a way as I see you play to achieve net par based on your current handicap, yes? But, If we look at your own game perception above and tot up your score you are carding 9 pars 7 bogies and 2 doubles (at minimum) - that is 11over par (more or less). So my question would now be (Assuming your course is at least par 70?) - How can you hit 80 with this perception - you essentially need to play better than you expect each time or have better luck?  (I may be wrong - correct the numbers for me here, I really am interested in this)

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54 minutes ago, RandallT said:

For a mid to upper 80s player, it's very difficult to keep a double bogey off the card (easy to get one).  And it's rare to get a birdie (one every few rounds perhaps). 

But I don't practice with the end result of my hole scores in mind. I just look at how many opportunities I get, and how successful I am at those opportunities. 

For putting I'll get nearly 18 decent length initial putts (maybe a tap in or two), plus I'll have a decent share of knee knockers.  That's over 20 opportunities. Plus I know I lose several strokes to PGA players on those. 

For short game I have at most 15 chances. Personally I feel pretty good at those- even without much practice. Plus, to get up and down, I usually need a good putt anyway. 

So to get a birdie or to scramble, putting is key for me. When I warm up for a round I might practice 15 minutes on putting but only a few chipping. 

I'm with you on the perception of how difficult those birdies can be to hole. Is it possible that you might not push yourself to get them because you feel they are so out of reach? I don't think you are alone in this. They do demand very precise play or indeed a great heap of luck. However on the other side of the spectrum, those doubles and trebles are altogether avoidable. But many of us don't look at avoiding them (Or playing out of them) in the same light as getting that elusive birdie... in spite of the fact that it is scientifically easier to do so. We have all already pared the holes we have doubled and trebled, but we haven't all birdied the holes that we've birdied before, if you hear what I'm saying. I think that it is actually easier than we think to adjust our game to get rid of doubles and worse and makes sense that this would work on all handicap levels. No?

PS: I like your thinking on "Chances" or opportunities presented to you in your round. I've started to think much more like this in the past year and its paid dividends.

Edited by Psychonana

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2 hours ago, Psychonana said:

You see this fascinates me, Patch, you make my point in a way as I see you play to achieve net par based on your current handicap, yes? But, If we look at your own game perception above and tot up your score you are carding 9 pars 7 bogies and 2 doubles (at minimum) - that is 11over par (more or less). So my question would now be (Assuming your course is at least par 70?) - How can you hit 80 with this perception - you essentially need to play better than you expect each time or have better luck?  (I may be wrong - correct the numbers for me here, I really am interested in this)

My home course is a par 72. It's not uncommon for me to have 10 pars, and 8 bogies in a round when  playing there. Sometimes I might get 12 pars, 6 bogies for a 78, or vice versa for an 84.  I just don't get that many double bogies or worse. I don't get that many birdies either. 

I know what the statitics say about players who carry this or that handicap.  They should have this many pars, birds, bogies, double bogies and so on. I have been correctly discribed on this forum as an "outlier". The stats just don't fit how I play, when I am playing my own way of consistant  golf. 

The number 80 is just a scoring goal I use when I want to play focused golf. I use it on every course I play up to 7K yards. I very seldom hit that exact number. Most of the time I am in the 82-83 range. More than a few times I can expect to card a 78-79 through out the year. 

In my own game, if I putt, and chip well, I score well. 28-30 putts usually means a good scoring day for me.  Two, or three one putts is pretty normal for me. My long game is adequate, but not that long when compared to others. This means, I depend on my short game to score well. Hence, the "outlier" moniker.:-D

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5 hours ago, Psychonana said:

...On average how many birdie opportunities do we have compared to scrambling holes. By a margin its more scrambling, certainly in my case. Doesn't it make sense to focus more on saving strokes rather than gaining them. So why isn't this a focus in our training? How do you practice this? Any thoughts?

You are correct.  The book, Lowest Score Wins, I believe, endorses this approach. I can't do the book's ideas justice in a short response but I will try to describe the general theme.  The authors strongly suggest that one make an assessment of where one's shots typically fall (shot zone) for each club.  When deciding upon one's next shot, one should select the club that results in the closest point to the hole without risking ending up in a hazard (water or bunker) or other unplayable spot (dense forest, long dense rough.

So, for example, I may know that I can hit a green with my 3-hybrid.  However, that club's shot zone also brings into play some deep bunkers and a water hazard.  My 5 iron will probably leave me a few yards short of the green but it takes the bunkers and water hazard out of play. The book tells us to hit the 5 iron so we have an easy chip rather than go for the green (and a possible birdie putt) but risk ending up in serious trouble.*

 

*unless you are on the last hole of a match, trailing your opponent by one and he is on the green in regulation.

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5 hours ago, Psychonana said:

Doesn't it make sense to focus more on saving strokes rather than gaining them. So why isn't this a focus in our training? How do you practice this? Any thoughts?

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. 

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28 minutes 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. 

Might that be because they have more practice putting for par or bogey than they do birds? 

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1 minute ago, Patch said:

Might that be because they have more practice putting for par or bogey than they do birds? 

I believe (and please fact check me) they quoted an expert as saying the brain can focus more acutely when trying to avoid loss. Golfers perceive doubles and triples as a disaster so they will putt better to avoid them.

This of course does not account for full swings and risky attempts to make the green, only putting.  

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1 hour 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. 

Might that be because they have more practice putting for par or bogey than they do birds? 

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6 hours ago, Psychonana said:

Here's something that's been on my mind a lot recently that the board may have some insight into: What is easier for the amateur golfer... To get birdies or to avoid bogies, doubles or worse? 

It's interesting that human nature tends to make us want to fight to get the harder achieved birdie but often care little about minimizing the fallout from a badly played hole. On average how many birdie opportunities do we have compared to scrambling holes. By a margin its more scrambling, certainly in my case. Doesn't it make sense to focus more on saving strokes rather than gaining them. So why isn't this a focus in our training? How do you practice this? Any thoughts?

Interesting question coming from a 5 HC. I'm guessing you have students that you wish to help improve?

Both avoiding bogies or worse and getting birdie opportunities come hand in hand. I don't really see any way that one could exclude the other?

I think one word can describe my answer. "Distance". Okay "Accurate distance". :-)

Seriously, the closer you are to the hole on the tee shot the better are your chances of getting a birdie or par. Every GIR is technically a birdie chance, even though longer putts are not really considered as such. I asked the question at one point, and the answer was something like less than 15 feet?

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I score better when I think par or better from the tee box.

Obviously that will change if I`m OB but then its d. bogey or better  cause I`m hitting 3 of the tee.

avoidances seem negative in thinking,

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17 minutes ago, Lihu said:

Interesting question coming from a 5 HC. I'm guessing you have students that you wish to help improve?

Both avoiding bogies or worse and getting birdie opportunities come hand in hand. I don't really see any way that one could exclude the other?

I think one word can describe my answer. "Distance". Okay "Accurate distance". :-)

Seriously, the closer you are to the hole on the tee shot the better are your chances of getting a birdie or par. Every GIR is technically a birdie chance, even though longer putts are not really considered as such. I asked the question at one point, and the answer was something like less than 15 feet?

Nope, not an instructor, just your average but very keen weekend enthusiast. A year ago I was playing off 9+ and had been stuck there for what seemed like forever. Just couldn't break through regardless how much I worked on my skills. So I finally started to place my efforts on the mental game and the handicap dropped almost immediately. I found that working on cleaning out the bad shots was a lot easier than I thought in spite of the fact I'd being playing with them for 30 years! For me I was able to essentially set a set of rules in place that allowed me to dicipline my approach to play that I was never able to do before. This is nothing that I've seen being used in golf tuition - certainly not in the main stream. I feel it should be and my question is really to see what others have experienced in this respect. Wondering if there are more me's really. :)

Ps; I wouldn't personally be in agreement with you in regards the "distance" and proximity to green thing - I don't think it's so important to be as close as possible to the green - for me it's more important to be at a distance where I know I'm fairly accurate on approach. E.g.: I can putt a 60m wedge any where I want with a 59 degree wedge but from 40 I'm not usually as accurate  

 

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5 minutes ago, Psychonana said:

Nope, not an instructor, just your average but very keen weekend enthusiast. A year ago I was playing off 9+ and had been stuck there for what seemed like forever. Just couldn't break through regardless how much I worked on my skills. So I finally started to place my efforts on the mental game and the handicap dropped almost immediately. I found that working on cleaning out the bad shots was a lot easier than I thought in spite of the fact I'd being playing with them for 30 years! For me I was able to essentially set a set of rules in place that allowed me to dicipline my approach to play that I was never able to do before. This is nothing that I've seen being used in golf tuition - certainly not in the main stream. I feel it should be and my question is really to see what others have experienced in this respect. Wondering if there are more me's really. :)

Dealing with "mental game" from an LSW approach is more about game management and knowing your shot zones then assessing your shot options. It's not so much a mental attitude, so much as using your mind to help you in a very concrete manner rather than allowing it to wander off into a negative "bad mental attitude".

Great that you managed to drop from a 9 to a 5. I think it was the "disciplined approach" that helped you more than anything else.

Most of that is described in explicit detail in LSW.

 

5 minutes ago, Psychonana said:

Ps; I wouldn't personally be in agreement with you in regards the "distance" and proximity to green thing - I don't think it's so important to be as close as possible to the green - for me it's more important to be at a distance where I know I'm fairly accurate on approach. E.g.: I can putt a 60m wedge any where I want with a 59 degree wedge but from 40 I'm not usually as accurate 

This is where we have to disagree. I do a lot of shooting sports, and no matter what, it's easier to take a shot closer to the target than farther away.

A 60m shot is generally going to be harder than a 40m shot to place nearer the pin. If your full 60 degree wedge is 60m, and you need to do a partial shot for 40m, then I might agree to a point.

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Get the little white ball in the stupid hole in as few strokes as possible no matter what the situation currently is. If you hit a great tee shot, great. Focus now on how to get the ball as close as possible to the hole safely. Rinse and repeat. 

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