Tip of the Month
Have you ever stood in the middle of the fairway and your next shot was topped, hit fat or hit into the water? Have you ever stood on the tee and hit driver after driver into the trees, or topped or popped up a driver? Have you ever been just off the green and still failed to get your next shot onto the green? These shots are what myself and Mark Broadie would call “awful shots”. Mark is a Columbia University Professor who wrote the book “Every Shot Counts.” Broadie has had access to ShotLink data, which has tracked every shot on the PGA Tour since 2003 as well as amateur players since 2005. Broadie’s numbers show that the golfer whose average score is 105 has 4 times the amount of awful shots as the player who averages 80.
When I speak with parents, junior and adult golfers about their rounds, almost everyone states, no matter the score posted, that what hurt their score the most was putting. Part of this is due to evaluating putting by simply adding up how many putts per round the player had. This is a very deceiving stat for several reasons, such as the amount of putts per round has a good chance of increasing when more greens are hit in regulation.
As I speak with my students and drill deeper into the numbers, the true issue begins to unfold. Almost every time we ask the golfer how he or she took a double bogey on a hole, we get answers such as, “I was 140 yards away in the fairway and hit my 2nd shot fat or thin, and then hit my 3rd shot into the bunker, 4th on the green and 2 putts.” This is not to say that one does not ever have unforced errors on the green by 3-putting, but compared to the awful shots, it is not as devastating.
Further supporting this concept is tap-in putts from inside 2.5 feet. How many of these types of strokes do you have during a round of golf? Again, for years, it has been said that 60% or more of your shots are taken from inside 100 yards. If you subtract the tap-in putts, then just 45-50% of your total shots will be from inside 100 yards.
Do the percentages change due to the handicap of the player or the score posted? The answer is actually no. The next time you play, put this to a test with your own scores and see how close you are to the percentages. Tour stats are online, so look at your favorite player and apply this concept and see how close the Tour players are to these percentages too.
The key takeaway from this is that a golfer can do a ton of damage from tee to green, but only so much damage once on the green.
What To Do
There is much more that can be written about this topic, which we will do in the future, but there are some things that can be taken from this research to assist golfers with their improvement.
At the end of the day, the quality of the player lies with the quality of their ball-striking. When the player can improve the quality of the strike, then the direction of the ball can be more readily addressed. This process then can provide the golfer with more opportunities to have more 1-putts and fewer 3-putts. It likewise creates a scenario where the “awful shots” can become manageable shots so that a big number is not written in that small box on your scorecard.
All the new shiny equipment does not and cannot compensate for poor technique. It may give a player a sense of confidence, where they have fleeting moments of grandeur, but soon this dissipates, and then the search continues for that new piece of equipment.
The road to improvement is a process that takes an investment of time, implementing a plan of attack for improvement through constant supervision, and assuring that what is being asked of the player is being practiced correctly. If not, just like the one-off lesson or the next month’s golf magazine tip, one is left constantly searching but never truly developing a newer and better habit to lay on top of the old. The old habit is still there, but a new one needs to be developed that layers on top the old and then keeps the old habit suppressed.
Again, we are not saying that one should not work on putting, but my hope is that this assists golfers in working on the key elements that directly affect putting rather than making putting into a difficult trigonometry equation. Also, we emphasize that you should work diligently in mastering putts from 6 feet and in, as well as spend most of your pre-round time around the green, inputting data into your computer (brain) about the speed of the greens and how receptive they are with short shots around the green. By doing so, your scores have no other choice but to go down.
1. Work diligently to master putts from 6 feet and in.
2. With short chips and pitches around the green, work diligently to get them within a 6 foot circle on your first attempt.
3. When possible, always hit the shot that gets you closest to the green on par 5s.
4. Train to be both physically and mechanically fit so you can hit your driver for distance, as this is the determining factor (more so than accuracy) in positioning yourself to hit approach shots closer to the hole. "If you can't putt you can't score, but if you can't drive you can't play." - Mark Broadie.
5. Lastly, below you will see a button named "View Previous Tips of the Month". By clicking the link you will be taken to tips, suggestions and drills that may address what ails you with your game.
A special thanks to Mark Broadie for his research.
If you have any questions about this article, previous tips of the month or any other aspects of your game, please do not hesitate to use the contact form below. I will be more than happy to answer your questions. Have a great day and Good Golfing!
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