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I enjoyed this blog entry and learned a valuable lesson from it. Four years ago I was involved in a MGS SCOR wedge test. It was about dispersion so I had to measure all of my approaches inside of 120 yards (my yardage with the PW replacement)

 

My proximity to the pin was much closer to touring pro than the 0-5 distances in the ACROS database. 19.7 in the 60-80 range and 30.3 in the 100-120.

 

Actually this makes sense - I was a 0-5 handicap who averaged 230 with driver. That’s 15-20 yards below average for that handicap bracket so I needed to make it up somehow.

 

My problem was that I didn’t hit the ball long enough to leave a lot of shots in the 60-80 yard range. :)

 

 

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It was an interesting read and I am sure some people will disagree with the information in the blog post; just look at the blog comments.

It comes down to practice and if you don’t practice the partial wedge game laying up to a farther distance may be better.

A player needs to understand the strategy to the game in order to make informed decisions on what to do.

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Conventional wisdom dies slowly, and this is an example.  Without actively working on partial wedges, I've still chosen to get as close as reasonably possible to the green, for the last year or two.  I do believe I'm averaging closer to the pin, although I don't keep the statistics. 

Obviously there are caveats to the general guidelines.  Don't take on significant additional risk in trying to get 30 yards closer, don't try to squeeze that shot into a skinny part of the fairway when its much wider a few yards further from the green.  If the green and pin position absolutely require you to hit a shot with a lot of spin, lay back to full swing distance.

I think what many people forget are the number of times they hit that full wedge fat, or thin, or wide of the flag.  Because they feel "comfortable" with the full swing yardage, they remember the good shots.  Because they feel "uncomfortable" with the partial shots, they remember the bad ones.  Most of us don't want to be proven wrong, so there's a natural tendency to remember only the shots that conform to our current opinion.  I think that the flagstick question is another where we'll eventually learn that leaving it in is the best play, in general, but many people will refuse to even consider the data.

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I found the blog interesting and confirming at least what is representative of my game. Comparing my fairway to Chipping - I'm far better at the latter. Now I just need remember that when I'm going for the green. 

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I usually try to leave myself an 80 yards shot on layups because that is a full 58°. I'd say my average proximity on 80 yard shots is around 23 feet which is above the average for my bracket, but I lose those shots by hitting so few fairways. My next full swing wedge is a 115 yard shot, and while that may sound like a big gap, it has made me really good at controlling distance on partial swings. I have it down to that my 100 yard shot is a 3/4 GW and I can throttle up or down from there. 

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1 hour ago, GB13 said:

I usually try to leave myself an 80 yards shot on layups because that is a full 58°. I'd say my average proximity on 80 yard shots is around 23 feet which is above the average for my bracket, but I lose those shots by hitting so few fairways. My next full swing wedge is a 115 yard shot, and while that may sound like a big gap, it has made me really good at controlling distance on partial swings. I have it down to that my 100 yard shot is a 3/4 GW and I can throttle up or down from there. 

You should try that 3/4 swing with your shortest wedge.  You'll do better from 60 than you do from 80 using the same logic as you use with the GW.  Then learn a 1/2 swing feel, you'll do better still from 40.

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3 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

You should try that 3/4 swing with your shortest wedge.  You'll do better from 60 than you do from 80 using the same logic as you use with the GW.  Then learn a 1/2 swing feel, you'll do better still from 40.

That is definitely in the works for the off-season along with straightening the driver up. It could really help my short game if I can get better at the 40-60 yard shots. 

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I read the blog article, and I also thought those distances from the pin were further than I achieve on average.  There aren't many holes where there are hazards in the 60-80 yard range, so on long holes I try to get as close as possible.  Several par 4's are just not reachable in 2 shots mostly depending on the wind.  So, I get a lot of practice on partial shots.  I do it all on feel; I don't even need the yardage at my home course.  I've tried practicing with numbers from the green and the clock swing for partial shots, but I didn't have any better results than the feel shots with my 58º SCOR... my goto wedge for anything inside 80 yards.

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I am wondering, does the advantage gained by being closer to the pin, make up for the extra risk of getting it closer?

Let's say I am on a Par 5 that is 500 yards, and I hit a not so great drive and am 300 yards out, my options are, take a 4 iron, and have 110 yards, or take a 3W and have 70 yards.  We know that IF I hit both shots perfectly, I should be able to get 7 feet closer with the 3W. However, the chances of me doing something idiotic with a 3W are much higher than with a 4 iron. With a 3W, there is a distinct possibility that I have 110 yards out of the rough from behind a tree. If we factor in those type of shots, is the difference in layup distance 7 feet from the pin? Or can it be advantageous to lay up farther back?

 

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I am wondering, does the advantage gained by being closer to the pin, make up for the extra risk of getting it closer?
Let's say I am on a Par 5 that is 500 yards, and I hit a not so great drive and am 300 yards out, my options are, take a 4 iron, and have 110 yards, or take a 3W and have 70 yards.  We know that IF I hit both shots perfectly, I should be able to get 7 feet closer with the 3W. However, the chances of me doing something idiotic with a 3W are much higher than with a 4 iron. With a 3W, there is a distinct possibility that I have 110 yards out of the rough from behind a tree. If we factor in those type of shots, is the difference in layup distance 7 feet from the pin? Or can it be advantageous to lay up farther back?
 

I think you should always assess the chance you can execute the necessary shot. If you can only pull off that 3 wood shot 20% of the time you may not want to try. If the landing area is open and matches up with your typical shot area take more club. I don’t think the article is saying to always hit it as far as possible, you still have to manage turn way around the course.
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18 minutes ago, cnosil said:


I think you should always assess the chance you can execute the necessary shot. If you can only pull off that 3 wood shot 20% of the time you may not want to try. If the landing area is open and matches up with your typical shot area take more club. I don’t think the article is saying to always hit it as far as possible, you still have to manage turn way around the course.

I agree completely, you want to get as close as possible without taking on significant additional risk.  This is where it really helps to have data on your personal pattern with each club.  Just remember its not an either/or proposition.  You won't always hit your 4-iron solid and straight, you won't always hit your 3-wood crooked.  And when you DO hit a bad shot with your 4-iron, you might be 140 yards out and behind a tree, instead of 110 out with your mishit 3-wood.  So the question becomes, does the advantage of being 30 yards closer most of the time override the  risk of being behind a tree an additional 10%  of the time.  If that's the right number, I'd say the risk is worth it, hit 3-wood.  Or maybe that risk of being in trouble is 40% higher, depending on the player, so the additional risk isn't justified.

There's a good book available that discusses this issue in detail, called Lowest Score Wins.  Be aware, the book was written by the owner of a different golf website, and I don't advertise other websites when I'm here.  Nevertheless, the book can be very valuable in understanding club and shot selection strategies.

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I agree completely, you want to get as close as possible without taking on significant additional risk.  This is where it really helps to have data on your personal pattern with each club.  Just remember its not an either/or proposition.  You won't always hit your 4-iron solid and straight, you won't always hit your 3-wood crooked.  And when you DO hit a bad shot with your 4-iron, you might be 140 yards out and behind a tree, instead of 110 out with your mishit 3-wood.  So the question becomes, does the advantage of being 30 yards closer most of the time override the  risk of being behind a tree an additional 10%  of the time.  If that's the right number, I'd say the risk is worth it, hit 3-wood.  Or maybe that risk of being in trouble is 40% higher, depending on the player, so the additional risk isn't justified.
There's a good book available that discusses this issue in detail, called Lowest Score Wins.  Be aware, the book was written by the owner of a different golf website, and I don't advertise other websites when I'm here.  Nevertheless, the book can be very valuable in understanding club and shot selection strategies.


While I haven’t read that book I have read about it and it does reinforce the principle. Mark Brodie’s book and Scott Fawcett’s DECADE program are also good references for how to decide when to be aggressive. There are a couple of videos on Scott’s YouTube site that illustrate how to make decisions based on your typical dispersion and miss. Both LSW and DECADE talk about where to aim based on your shot patterns.

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I have always been partial to partial shots. (Hehe) I practice the 1/4-1/2-3/4 wedge regularly. This year because it injury, until last week, 3/4 was my full pain-free swing. This has benefited my game because instead of hitting a 7 iron into a green, I make a 3/4 5 Iron swing. My GIR’s are way up as is my proximity to the hole especially on the par 5’s and 3’s. I have expanded that practice even to my long irons, and I attribute my decent play with fellow MGSpy’s in Houston last month to this.

 

Unfortunately, I have been making 3/4 swings with the driver also and the par 4’s have kicked my butt.

 

So the key thing I have proven to myself is that all the irons are not about distance but distance control and direction. Just because you are “8 Iron” distance doesn’t mean you have to hit an 8 Iron.

 

 

 

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I don't play to a preferred layup distance.  If there is a hazard or I'm out a distance that's sporty to make the green, I just get as close as possible.  There are a couple of holes at a course we play in Yuma that, depending on how well the drive is hit, leaves me in this predicament.  To be honest, I feel just as confident pin hunting with my 7i as I do with my PW.  My distance control is pretty good and my iron shots tend to drop like sacks of sand and hold close to impact.  In addition to bunker shots, trying the "throttled" swing on my wedge, as a number of you have suggested in this and other threads, is on my winter game improvement list.

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I’ve been doing a lot better when I use my 58* from 80 and inside. I’ve really gotten used to the yardage/swing, and it’s my “go-to” club. I can see how this data would be accurate!


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Morgan Hoffmann did a demo at one of my local courses.  When discussing his short game strategy, he showed us how he knows exact yardages and how he can take 5yds off by choking down 1", or 10 by 2". 

Anyway, with that in mind, I discovered that a swing from 9oclock with my 50degree, choked half way down the grip, flew 70-72 yards every time, with enough height to stop at 75.  So, 75 became my magic number.   50yds: same swing choked so my bottom hand is at the bottom of the grip.  

I play everything inside 100 with that 50deg, except for bunkers, short sided chips, flops, specialty shots.  Call me old skool but it's what I'm comfortable doing.  

If I'm at 100 and not feeling good with fuller shots I'll choke down and take a little off the PW.  

Outside of that, it looks like I should look into Arccos 🙂 and maybe figure out how to work the other wedges into my game.  🙂

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I am not that good of a ball striker to vary shot distance by choking down on a club.  I have a hard enough time making good contact with my hands in the same position all the time.  When I choke down, I will most likely hit the ball thin.  I'm much better at changing the amount of backswing.

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Let's say I am on a Par 5 that is 500 yards, and I hit a not so great drive and am 300 yards out, my options are, take a 4 iron, and have 110 yards, or take a 3W and have 70 yards.  
 


Or hit a pair of 7 irons?

Let’s face it, I duffed my drive and now have a tendency to want to muscle my second shot in order to make up that lost yardage. For me(!) that doesn’t work out so well. Duffed shot number 2 coming up.

Hitting a pair of 7’s takes that pressure off. Hitting a 7 is easy, hitting it twice in a row is even easier. I’m mentally prepared for that third shot.

Now if I could just convince myself to follow this advice instead of trying a hero shot 🤨


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I am often splitting up my shots.  But for me, I've made a rule to do so when yardage is over 175, which would be hybrid or wood zone. So, PW then GW, or a long iron then likely some touchy pitch/chip/bunker shot.  

Sometimes I'll hit the 5i or hyb if there is less trouble and wider fairway, knowing that if I hit it really bad it will end up somewhere in the layup zone anyway. 

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8 hours ago, toehold57 said:

Or hit a pair of 7 irons?

Let’s face it, I duffed my drive and now have a tendency to want to muscle my second shot in order to make up that lost yardage. For me(!) that doesn’t work out so well. Duffed shot number 2 coming up.

Hitting a pair of 7’s takes that pressure off. Hitting a 7 is easy, hitting it twice in a row is even easier. I’m mentally prepared for that third shot.
 

 

Obviously, wanting to "muscle" a shot is a potential problem, that's one thing to try to work through.  But don't you also get the urge to muscle your 7-iron?  And if you duff your 7-iron, won't you be further away than if you duff a hybrid or 3-wood?  Why not take the longer club, and convince yourself to make a normal good swing.  If you hit it bad, you still might have a 7-iron to the green.  If you hit it good, you have a wedge, and that's a LOT easier than a 7-iron.  Its honestly NOT that easy to hit two solid straight 7-irons in a row, and if you mishit the first one, you'll be looking at long iron or more to get to the green..

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