Saturday, August 1, 2009

Course Management Thoughts...

Part of this will be a quick update. I plan on getting David Orr's 'Green Reading 201' video tomorrow and doing a review on that. I also plan on getting David's 'Putting Acceleration' video as well. I'm actually putting pretty decent right now with the new Yes! putter, but I am extremely interested in how the AimPoint technology works (which is a lot of what the Green Reading 201 video is based upon) and I'm interested in what David has to say about Putting Acceleration since I see so many golfers struggle with it and then wonder why they cannot putt worth a lick.

But today I'm going to talk about 'Course Management' and in particular, how I (and others) tend work with course management.

The one thing I often here is 'well I didn't want to hit driver because I wanted to leave myself with a full shot into the green.' That sounds good, but often I find it a tad bit foolish. For instance, I'll hear a 4 handicapper say that and leave themselves with a full 8-iron into the green. The problem is that they often do not have the ability to hit that 8-iron flush like they need to on a consistent basis to hit the shot within close range. In fact, if they are decent golfer it's just a bit hard to hit an 8-iron really close. Furthermore, if you can get the ball close enough to the green where you are hitting basically a long chip, that IMO is a GREAT position to be in over say a full swing 8-iron into the green.

But, if you want to leave yourself with a full shot into the green, my advice is to do it with a wedge. Anything from a PW to a LW should suffice. Furthermore, you should really learn what your distances with those clubs are to a tee.

For instance, here's a look at my yardages taking a full swing with each of these clubs with medium force applied to the shot.

LW = 62 yards
SW = 85 yards
GW = 105 yards
PW = 125 yards

This is extremely useful knowledge to have because it can help a golfer on those short par 4's where they are debating hitting a driver vs. another club off the tee. Or if the golfer gets into trouble on a hole and has to punch out. Or if a golfer is on a par 5 and knows that a 3-wood will leave them say 40 yards away and would like a full shot into the green.

Just calculate the yardage to get to those spots and then take your swing and if you practice enough you will start hitting those shots close on a consistent basis and start making more birdies and saving more pars.

So how did I figure those yardages out?

A friend of mine helped calculate the Sand Wedge distance with his Bushnell 1500 w/slope Rangefinder after a few trials. The Bushnell w/slope is not legal for Tournament play. However, this is what the Tour Pros all use in their practice rounds and it's a great tool if you're just playing around with some friends, particularly on a course you have never played on before. This is particularly handy in hilly areas as some elevations can certainly trick you. In fact, the accuracy of this was so uncanny that the other day I left myself with 83 yards to the green and I hit my SW right at the flag (probably missed the stick by a few inches) and sure enough the ball landed 2 yards past the cup.

The Gap Wedge and Lob Wedge yardages were determined by myself after comparing how I far I hit them in relation to the Sand Wedge. If you don't have access to a Bushnell Rangefinder, I would then suggest using your course yardages and hitting some shots if you can get on the course by yourself or finding a clubfitter that has the Trackman Launch Monitor (

If you're very serious into Tournament Golf, then I would suggest getting the RangeFinder w/Slope for Practice Round play and then probably a Tournament Edition range finder or some sort of GPS for the real thing, while taking notes in regards to the effect of the slope.

The Pros find out the yardage on their wedges and use it to their advantage all of the time. Zach Johnson in the '07 Masters was a great example. He couldn't reach the par 5's in two, so he would lay up but with getting the ball on his second shot in the yardage that he was comfortable with his wedge and he would hit it close almost every time. Sure, eagle was taken out of play. But he eliminated bogey or worse and greatly increased his chances at making a birdie, which he often made that year on the par 5's.

Another thing to account for is the topography of the course. If I had a dime for every time a golfer couldn't believe that they came up short when they were hitting from a downhill lie, I would have a big chunk of change.

At one of the courses I play at, despite the green being noticeably downhill on the 10th hole, I always play the hole for whatever yardage it is given. For starters, we once measured it with the Rangefinder with slope and despite the downhill slope, there was only a 4 yard difference. Combine that with the ball having a downhill lie, that makes the shots go even shorter so in the end it plays exactly what the yardage tells you, but golfers by and large come up short on that hole. Why? Because the downhill slope causes the ball to fly lower and thus go shorter. It's much akin to having an 'upward hit' with the driver causing the ball to go further. Generally a good rule of thumb is that you need to hit the ball higher to hit it further. Believe me, the RE-MAX long distance champs are not hitting low bullets out there.

It took me awhile to get my wedge yardages, but I am glad that I did. Lately my scores have dropped and I believe it's in part due to better course management. In the past I would take a bit too many chances on holes and now I can weigh the options a bit more decisively and understand that I may want to just take the iron out and get it to 85 yards to the pin. Or even better, if I happen to hit a bit of a wayward tee shot, I don't look at it like it's going to be an automatic bogey if I can get the next shot to my wedge ranges. Believe me, this is a great way to frustrate opponents, but make sure you know where the pin is to account for the differences in yardages.


1 comment:

dana said...

Great Blog Rich!