Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Golf Strategy Followup


I’ve received plenty of questions and arguments with regards to my Golf Strategy thoughts that I wanted to address. Here are some of them.


1. How would the average amateur use your Golf Strategy?

In part I it was stated that it more applies to golfers with a 3 handicap or less. The reason being is that higher handicap golfers become more unpredictable and thus they are probably not consistently hitting drives that go long or are not impeded. I will say that this chart seems to work with from what readers have told me.

Yards….Long……Mid1…Mid2…Short1….Short2…DZ1……DZ2

7600……315……314……298……297………..277……...185……235

7500……310……309……294……293……..…273…...…175……225

7400……306……305……290……289………..269…...…175……225

7300……302……301……286……285……..…265...……175……225

7200……298……297……281……280……..…260…...…175….…225

7100……294……293……278……277……..…257…...…175….…225

7000……290……289……275……275….....…255...……175….…225

6900……286……285……270……269………..249…….…175……225

6800……281……280……265……264………..244……….175……225

6700……277……276……260……259………..239…….…165……215

6600……273……272……257……256………..236…….…165……215

6500……269……268……253……252………..232…….…165……215

6400……265……264……250……249………..229…….…165……215

6300……261……260……245……244………..224….……150……200

6200……257……256……240……239……..…219…….…150……200

6100……252……251……235……234………..214…….…150……200

6000……248……247……232……231……….211…..……150……200

5900……244……243……228……227……….207……..…150……200

5800……240……239……225……224……….204……….140….…190

5700……236……235……220……219…….…199…….…140…….190

5600……232……231……215……214…….…194…….…140….…190

5500……228……227……212……211……..…191……….140……190

I would just consider the Birdie Zone to be about 100 to 120 yards less than the Danger Zone (DZ1). So in the case of a 6,400 yard with these parameters, I’d say that the zones look like this:

Birdie Zone: 50 yards or less
Safe Zone: 51 yards to 164 yards
Danger Zone: 165 to 215 yards

With the Golf Strategy thoughts, I think it helps better golfers get a better understanding why they did or did not ‘score’ well. Was it poor execution? Was it poor strategy? With higher handicap golfers, it’s usually going to be an execution issue.

I will say this, I believe that if a higher handicap golfer could do the following:

- Cut down on their 3 putts
- Consistently find the green on shots around the green from 50 yards in.
- Make a commitment when they have an impeded shot to the green that they make sure they will have an unimpeded shot on the following shot.

Those 3 things would dramatically lower their scores. Particularly the last one as usually a higher handicapper will hit a poor tee shot and then try to hit a shot that they might hit once in a lifetime.



2. This sounds like an awfully conservative approach off the tee, especially if you’re good with the driver.

It’s actually the opposite. I am very bias towards hitting the DRIVER off the tee and I don’t like a golfer hitting anything less than a driver off the tee unless they HAVE to. The golf strategy thoughts should help the golfer understand when they HAVE to his something else besides a driver off the tee.

#3 at Windermere Golf Club, just outside of Atlanta is a good example. It’s a par-5 and it’s not very long. You’re teeing off a cliff of sorts and the ball will not get much, if any roll. It doglegs to the left and there’s hazard left and trees to the right. However, a high percentage of low handicappers take a 3-wood off the tee. The advantage of taking a 3-wood off the tee is that you can take a mediocre swing and still be okay.

The problem with a 3-wood off the tee is that you’re not likely to hit the second shot into the Birdie Zone and hitting it on the green in two is almost out of the question. But, if you hit a driver and find the fairway, there’s a decent shot at only having a long iron into the green.

My belief is that a low handicapper should take the DRIVER out on this hole. Why? Because for the majority of low handicappers, a decent pass at the ball with the driver will be okay. Remember, the ball really doesn’t roll on this hole because you’re on such a highly elevated tee. So if you’re a bit off line, you still will likely be fine. It’s just when you miss pretty badly you will get penalized.

And that’s the crux of the situation. You don’t do all of that practice so you can play safe in case you take a bad swing. You practice so you can consistently make good swings and hit it well when you do and still hit it pretty well when it’s a less than good swing. And as I’ve mentioned with par-5’s, it is EXTREMELY FAVORABLE to have a ‘go-for-it.’


3. I like to shoot at the pins from 100 yards in.

I do, too. But not all of the time. I like to be AWARE of the situation before I hit the shot. A good example was yesterday on #17 at Stoneybrook East. I have 68 yards into the flag. I wasn’t quite hitting my Lob Wedge well that day, so I basically wanted to be aggressive and go at the flag. And I just missed the flag, but I wound up 12 feet past the cup. This left me with a downhill putt that broke about 18 inches. Had I played it a bit smarter and kept the ball below the cup, I could’ve had a putt that would’ve broke half as much and I wouldn’t have worried about the wobble effect.


4. I have a hard time remembering what to do.

This is an issue I have occasionally as well. Sometimes when you have a tricky shot with a 5-iron and the wind is swirling a bit, you start to focus on those factors instead of thinking to yourself ‘let’s make solid contact and just find the middle of the green.’

One thing I started to experiment with is on the scorecard I would keep track of things like this:

Zone (Birdie Zone, Safe Zone or Danger Zone)
GIR
Score
Impeded Shot

In the Zone part, I will write down what Zone my approach shot is in. GIR and Score are self explanatory. Impeded shot is just something I mark down if the shot is impeded or not. For instance, I had a shot on #13 at North Shore where I had to hit a shot over some trees. Now I hit it to 10 feet, but to me that was an impeded shot to the green. I just hit a tremendous shot. But it’s no different to me than if I had to punch a shot under the trees and missed the green.

Anyway, I’ll write down on the scorecard what Zone I am in as I get up to the ball and get the yardage. If I’m 185 yards away, I’ll write down ‘DZ.’ That reminds me ‘focus on making solid contact and just try to find the middle of the green.’


5. Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face

I can counter that with ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail.’

My feelings are that you’re going to have to make adjustments in anything you do because situations are always bound to change. However, if you completely abandon a strategy then your strategy probably wasn’t very good to begin with.

The other day at North Shore we had winds gusting up to 35 mph. This is ‘getting punched in the face.’ But I was able to hit 12/18 GIR and shoot 68 because I was aware of the changes that needed to be made and was still able to keep much of my strategy in tact.

For example, #4 is typically a tough hole for me.


But now with a 35 mph tail wind, I adjusted my strategy from hitting a stock driver to making sure I hit a driver high and made decent contact and not even worry about how straight it goes. That would allow me to easily fly the bunker on the right and have a wedge into the green. Which I did, then I drained a 15 foot birdie putt.

Then on #12 where I was planning to originally hit a 3-wood


With the wind in our face I had to hit driver or 3-wood would leave me too far away from the green. I did and I got a little lucky and then hit a great 6-iron to 5-feet and made birdie.

Obviously, it doesn’t always work out this well, but for me if I understand the situation before I tee off, then I know how to approach it. If I know a hole where I’m typically going to be in the Birdie Zone off the tee, now has a 40 mph wind in my face and will leave me 150 yards away and having to hit a low punch shot into the wind with a longer club, I’ll focus my efforts on keeping the ball in the fairway and making solid contact and understanding that I probably won’t birdie the hole and there will probably be some holes later on in the round that I typically don’t birdie where I will have the chance because of a tailwind.





3JACK

1 comment:

GT Bar Events said...

RTJ....love your blog...you must be single, umemployed, or both to have time to do all this writing! Thanks for all the hard work.

PS...I didn't catch this post until recently, but if you moved to Atlanta since 1980 you missed the good times. And if you moved here since 1980 don't complain about the problems, you ARE the problems!!! just kidding