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iacas

A Common Error in Accuracy vs. Distance

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Here's Mike Bender, otherwise a good instructor, doling out some misguided information.

First, let's see how accurate that is:

At 100 yards in the rough, PGA Tour players average 3.02. At 175 in the fairway, they average 3.07. Close enough.

At 80, it's 2.96. At 155, it's 2.97. Close enough.

At 120, it's 3.08. At 195, it's 3.17. That's not super close - it's a tenth of a stroke, or 1.4 strokes in favor of being in the rough per round.

At 140, it's 3.15. At 215, it's 3.3. Not really close. Over a round with 14 driver holes, that's 2.1 strokes.


Here's the other problem, and it's one commonly made by people who make comments like "distance sounds great but I don't want to play every drive from the trees."

This isn't how it works. The longer hitters are not "hitting from the trees" all that often. In fact, despite what Mike Bender says, they're not hitting from the ROUGH much more often, either.

Look at the 2017 driving accuracy stats. First place: 72.73% (by absolute world-beater [sarcasm] Ryan Armour). A player who hits 2 fewer fairways ranks all the way down at almost 125th place (at about 58.44% fairways hit). Those people are Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose, and Branden Grace.

Being as little as 20 yards ahead on EVERY tee shot OFTEN outweigh the disadvantage of being in the rough one to two extra times per round. (72.73% of 14 is 10.18, 58.44% is 8.18.)

It's not like short hitters are gaining strokes with every drive. Truth be told, they're only gaining strokes on about 2 to 2.5 drives per round. On the other 12 or so, they're losing strokes to the longer hitters: they're losing strokes on the 8.18 fairways the longer hitters also hit, and the 3.82 fairways that even the short hitters miss.

Mike Bender should know better. One of his students, Zach Johnson, would absolutely take an extra 20-30 yards, even if it came at the cost of a fairway or two per round.

After all…

 

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Great post as usual Erik.  No one in the right mind is going to trade 75 YARDS for a fairway!!!

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Great post Erik.  It seems some instructors, Mike in this case, should just tell their students they may not be able to achieve the ‘bomber’ status no matter how much they practice rather than try to say that not being able to is not a disadvantage. I mean Zach is obviously a very talented golfer so why can’t he bomb it out there? Why can’t he gain another 20-30yds? Size? Well...what about Justin Thomas? These instructors should just say distance is a huge advantage but we just need to work with abilities you have and get you to your best. 

Edited by Vinsk

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On 5/24/2018 at 10:34 PM, sk golf said:

Great post as usual Erik.  No one in the right mind is going to trade 75 YARDS for a fairway!!!

I don't have to give up those 75 yards, I play from the next fairway over all the time!!

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On 5/24/2018 at 10:08 PM, iacas said:

Here's the other problem, and it's one commonly made by people who make comments like "distance sounds great but I don't want to play every drive from the trees."

That's my biggest gripe about the distance vs accuracy debate. The accuracy people jump automatically assume more distance = trouble. I hit my share of wild tee shots but even I don't play every 2nd shot out of the woods (not to mention the distance advantage extends throughout the bag).

On 5/24/2018 at 10:34 PM, sk golf said:

Great post as usual Erik.  No one in the right mind is going to trade 75 YARDS for a fairway!!!

25 I would take. 75 is way too much distance to give up just to be in a fairway.

On 5/24/2018 at 10:37 PM, Vinsk said:

I mean Zach is obviously a very talented golfer so why can’t he bomb it out there? Why can’t he gain another 20-30yds?

Some people just swing faster/slower than others.

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3 hours ago, billchao said:

That's my biggest gripe about the distance vs accuracy debate. The accuracy people jump automatically assume more distance = trouble. I hit my share of wild tee shots but even I don't play every 2nd shot out of the woods (not to mention the distance advantage extends throughout the bag).

If the debate is about the advantage of being a long hitter vs a short hitter, I have no argument. 

But if this debate includes higher cappers and how to make choices on the course, I can only discuss my game. The fact is, swinging for maximum distance does bring about more penalties (for me).

I don't think you have to hit every other shot into the woods to lose more strokes than the longer club needed on the second shot resulting from shorter drives kept in play.

I don't disagree with the fairway vs rough argument. I wouldn't be surprised if I hit just as many pars from tee shots into the rough as I do from fairways hit.

But for some of us high cappers, keeping the ball in play is a very real challenge. It seems at least as important to my score as the need to use as short of a club as possible on the following shot.

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4 hours ago, billchao said:

Some people just swing faster/slower than others

Well, yes. But nobody chooses to swing slower. Zach would take another 30yds off the tee in a heartbeat. That was my point. He simply can’t.

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I think this debate is mainly for people that can shoot into the 70's. I can shoot low 80's and guarantee if I would have put down the driver on some holes it would have saved me tremendously. I have a lot of distance but if you take a 230 yard drive and a 330 yard drive that start on the same line the shorter one most likely will be playable if off line. The longer drive is likely to be OB or way in another fairway. 

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First, how much distance is lost because high handicap golfers have bad swing mechanics? I think a lot of golfers could gain 15-20 yards if they got better. 

Second, just keep track of GIR in a scramble when a team has two longer hitters. I can tell you right now, my dad's GIR skyrockets when he plays in a scramble with myself and another guy who typically joins our team. He's now hitting 8 irons and lower versus hybrids and long irons. Huge advantage, even from the rough. 

Also, if a guy hits the ball 225 and you give him 25 more yards of distance, he isn't going to find the hazards substantially more often. The ball will just not go that much further offline. 

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And then there is that group of amateurs who, for what ever reason, just can't hit the ball far enough to get into much  trouble. Accuracy is there due to their lower swing speed. 

I think this distance/accuracy debate is more for the professionals, and the longer amateur hitters. The shorter hitters, who regardless of what tees they play from, who find it difficult to card GIRs,  are not part of that debate. 

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23 minutes ago, Casualgolfer said:

I think this debate is mainly for people that can shoot into the 70's. I can shoot low 80's and guarantee if I would have put down the driver on some holes it would have saved me tremendously. I have a lot of distance but if you take a 230 yard drive and a 330 yard drive that start on the same line the shorter one most likely will be playable if off line. The longer drive is likely to be OB or way in another fairway. 

I don’t agree with all of this. No one (at least in this thread) is making the case of driver or bust. However, a player of just about every caliber should be trying to advance the ball as far as possible safely. Yes, if any club brings OB into play then it may be best to adjust club selection. However, no one is stepping down from 330 to 230 and the guy who is 330 in the other fairway will likely score better on average than the 230 guy in the middle of the correct fairway because he is likely much closer to the hole. 

11 minutes ago, Patch said:

And then there is that group of amateurs who, for what ever reason, just can't hit the ball far enough to get into much  trouble. Accuracy is there due to their lower swing speed. 

I think this distance/accuracy debate is more for the professionals, and the longer amateur hitters. The shorter hitters, who regardless of what tees they play from, who find it difficult to card GIRs,  are not part of that debate. 

Shorter hitters would then still benefit from hitting the ball farther especially if driver doesn’t get them in trouble 

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51 minutes ago, Casualgolfer said:

I think this debate is mainly for people that can shoot into the 70's. I can shoot low 80's and guarantee if I would have put down the driver on some holes it would have saved me tremendously. I have a lot of distance but if you take a 230 yard drive and a 330 yard drive that start on the same line the shorter one most likely will be playable if off line. The longer drive is likely to be OB or way in another fairway. 

Again this is exactly the sort of thinking that's holding people back. It's some weird sort of all-or-none type of thinking where:

  • Your 330-yard shots are in trouble
  • Your 230-yard shots are fine.

Yes, more 330-yard shots that travel 3° offline will find trouble than a 230-yard shot… but the 330-yard shots that don't find trouble (including often being in another fairway) give you a substantial boost over the 230-yard shots, too.

It's not an all-or-nothing situation, and never is: the long hitter isn't always in the trees, and the short hitter isn't always in the fairway. It's dumb to think of anything that way.

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31 minutes ago, iacas said:

It's not an all-or-nothing situation, and never is: the long hitter isn't always in the trees, and the short hitter isn't always in the fairway. It's dumb to think of anything that way.

I played with a younger friend Saturday. We confirmed this statement. I can't hit it far enough nowadays to get in any real trouble, right? But I did. He always swings all out and goes long, without fear, because he is aware of his percentages and his ability to recover an errant shot. We talked about this. He said the old "Drive for show, putt for dough" is complete BS. -Marv

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3 minutes ago, MarvChamp said:

I played with a younger friend Saturday. We confirmed this statement. I can't hit it far enough nowadays to get in any real trouble, right? But I did. He always swings all out and goes long, without fear, because he is aware of his percentages and his ability to recover an errant shot. We talked about this. He said the old "Drive for show, putt for dough" is complete BS. -Marv

and yet the golf commentators preach this.   

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4 minutes ago, iacas said:

It is. You should buy my book.

My coach always said, “if you can’t hit the ball, you can’t play golf. If you can’t putt, you can’t go low.” Err on the side of great ballstriking, at least you’re still playing golf. Hit the ball well, particularly with speed and not too much curve or at least a predictable curve. 

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

It is. You should buy my book.

OK, you silver-tongued salesman! Thanks for TST. It's my daily shot. -Marv

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