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How much difference does course length make?

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I experience a similar thing.  I post about the same scores on 6000yds as I do on 6500yds largely because my approach play is terrible.  I don't hit many GIR. but generally I am on the green in regulation plus one.  What I do find is that a 6500-6600yd course usually causes me to use all 14clubs over the course of the round.  If I tee it forward on the same course and play 6000yds or fewer, there will be 2 or 3 clubs I didn't use at all.

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Who in the hell is thinking birdie from 200 yards on a par 3!!!!  Par 5 maybe. 
2018 PGA Tour Stats
#1 in stat - Dustin Johnson made 25.86% birdies between 175-200.  That is 45 birdies on 174 holes attempted.  
Go out to 220+ yards - and the leader, John Rahm made birdies 41.30% of the time for 95 birdies over 230 attempts.  Why more birdie percentage from 200+ yards.  To make a birdie on a par three requires two shots to make a birdie on a par 5 allows for three shots.  The statistic requires that the ball ends up on or about the green.  
Based on the fact that most of us are handicap golfers, including myself, I'm thinking there might be a better strategy than trying to make birdie.  Especially since PGA are hitting 7/6 iron from 175-200 and likely 4/5 from 200+.  Just my opinion. 

That’s why I said I’m not thinking birdie on a 200+ par 3. If I’m looking at a hole that I can’t feasibly hit 4/10 GIR with a decent swing then I may need to re-evaluate the tees I’m playing. I would have to hit 5 wood for any par 3 over 200. I might be able to reach with an absolutely perfect 3 hybrid but even that’s pushing it. That’s why there are different tees. I’m not afraid to move up a tee to make a hole playable. If I get to a course and 3 out of 4 par 3’s are 200+, I will either play different tees on them or move up if I’m playing for handicap.


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My scores stay relatively the same, no matter what length of course I play.  The difference is on longer courses, and the reason I enjoy them more, is I get to use all, or at least most, of the clubs in my bag.

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So in asking this question, I know there are about a million variables that can change the answer (which should make it an interesting discussion).
This past week, I got a chance to play two different courses, which is unusual for me, as I play nearly all my golf at my home course. As I've noted in other threads, our course is short: it barely cracks 6,000 yards from the back tees. It's a par 71; my scores cluster pretty tightly around 90. My best round has been a 77.
The first course I played this week is 6,297 yards from the back tees. The second course, SentryWorld, offered a mixed tee option that I expected to suit my game; the blue/white tee comes in at 6,401 yards. With those extra yards, I shot a 92 (+20) at Trout Lake and then a 91 (+19) at SentryWorld; that is, pretty much exactly what I shoot at 6,000 yards.
In fact, over my last 8 rounds at my home course, I've been averaging closer to 21.6 over. So there's a strong argument that I played better with an additional 300–400 yards to navigate.
This is an interesting question for me, because I normally play such a short course, and want to have a decent understanding, objectively, where my game stands.
So in your opinion, how much do you expect that adding yardage changes your expected scoring?


If you send me your stats for putting, driving percentage, GIR, etc... I can see if statistically any category jumps out as having an impact (if any one explains the majority of the variance).


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I think that a lot of the distance changes depends on where the distance actually falls. My home course I consider short (6399) but it has 2 par 3's over 200 yards, par is a great score and bogey is the average. With my game distance is not usually an issue so I don't expect a whole lot of increase in score when playing a longer course. 
On the flip side of that if you play a course that leaves you a lot of half shots or feel shots and you struggle with those it can make scoring more difficult than a course that would be longer but leaves you full shots into greens. 


Very true. Just because a course is short doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for any golfer to score well. If you never hit or practice half-swing wedge shots, it’s a recipe for fat and thin shots and then still scrambling for par.


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Very true. Just because a course is short doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for any golfer to score well. If you never hit or practice half-swing wedge shots, it’s a recipe for fat and thin shots and then still scrambling for par.


The question I would ask is why are you leaving yourself awkward distances? Take less club off the tee and leave yourself in a favorable position. Even tour pros avoid specific distances
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The question I would ask is why are you leaving yourself awkward distances? Take less club off the tee and leave yourself in a favorable position. Even tour pros avoid specific distances


For sure. That’s what I do on very short courses, play to a Yardage I’m comfortable with if the par 4 isn’t reachable.

What I was saying was lots of amateurs just automatically grab driver on every par 4 or 5, which could leave them with awkward distances on a short course.


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13 minutes ago, cnosil said:

Take less club off the tee and leave yourself in a favorable position. Even tour pros avoid specific distances

 

Sound advice that I should probably consider more often. When playing in a tournament earlier this month, I shot an 82 from the back tees during my practice round, and 82 from what basically equated to mixed tees during the first tournament round, and an 85 from the middle tees in the last round. I left myself far too many awkward approaches causing my score to creep and probably could have been at least slightly more accurate off the tee as well.

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For sure. That’s what I do on very short courses, play to a Yardage I’m comfortable with if the par 4 isn’t reachable.

What I was saying was lots of amateurs just automatically grab driver on every par 4 or 5, which could leave them with awkward distances on a short course.


This specific discussion was part of my last short game lesson. Try to avoid the odd distances that you aren’t comfortable hitting.

I saw this specific discussion on golf channel. They were asking DJ to hit 50 yard shots and he commented he would do his best but he tries to avoid that specific distance because it isn’t a regular swing length.
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Everyone seems to be approaching this as playing shorter courses.  As an older player, I'm more concerned with having to play longer courses where reaching the green in regulation leaves me with hybrids and long irons to the green.  So, in the case of older golfers (such as myself), distance becomes a big deal.  The game becomes much harder when you can't hit the greens in regulation and have to rely on getting up and down on 80% of the holes.  You either develop a superior short game or you experience higher scores. 

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2 minutes ago, CarlH said:

Everyone seems to be approaching this as playing shorter courses.  As an older player, I'm more concerned with having to play longer courses where reaching the green in regulation leaves me with hybrids and long irons to the green.  So, in the case of older golfers (such as myself), distance becomes a big deal.  The game becomes much harder when you can't hit the greens in regulation and have to rely on getting up and down on 80% of the holes.  You either develop a superior short game or you experience higher scores. 

Move up a tee box in longer courses. Why punish yourself by playing tees that have you hitting longer clubs into par 4s.

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Man...I missed this when it was first posted, I was on vacation that week.

But great question and one I can answer pretty accurately, by saying right now it makes a big difference to me.  15 years ago probably not so much.

On Wednesday Nights I play in a Mensa league it's only 9 holes and is usually played on a course that measures 6200  from the whites for the full 18 holes.  I have either a FW or hybrid approach on just about every par 4 and even on the tee of some par 3's.    Par 5's are played with 3 full shots. Driver/FW/ and usually hybrid.  My scores for 9 holes can range from 44 to 52. 

On Thursdays I play every few weeks in a senior league on the same course.  It's 18 holes, and they play the Gold tees at about 5800.  I rarely have more than a hybrid on any approach, and on a couple holes in particular I will be hitting a PW as opposed to a 3 wood or 7 wood from the other tees.    My scores from these tees have ranged from 82 to 88.   

Several years ago when I could hit it further I often said, I could shoot 95 from the tips or the red tees, that it didn't' matter.   As I've gotten older and lost distance, it's definitely a disadvantage to play the longer course, but my short game has evolved that I feel playing from reasonable tees, I should be able to score respectively. 

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2 hours ago, cnosil said:

The question I would ask is why are you leaving yourself awkward distances? Take less club off the tee and leave yourself in a favorable position. Even tour pros avoid specific distances

 

This used to be the conventional wisdom, but some of the newer statistical analyses suggest that it might not be the best policy.  Most players will have better results when they're hitting from closer to the green, all other factors being equal.  I've worked the past few years on doing just this, NOT laying back to ___ yards, but getting as close as I can without taking on too much additional risk.  I'll happily get to 50 or 60 yards, and now that I have a little experience under my belt with those shots, I'm confident I'll hit a decent one.  It took some getting used to, and some practice, but its worth the effort.

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Just now, RickyBobby_PR said:

Move up a tee box in longer courses. Why punish yourself by playing tees that have you hitting longer clubs into par 4s.

No doubt this!!  Next time we tee it up together at WW you'll be seeing me in front of you from the Whites, and heck maybe even the golds 😎

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Just now, Golfspy_CG2 said:

No doubt this!!  Next time we tee it up together at WW you'll be seeing me in front of you from the Whites, and heck maybe even the golds 😎

The whites there are no joke. If my swing feels off on the range or if I show up as a single and go right out I play the whites instead of either tournament or blue tees

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31 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

Move up a tee box in longer courses. Why punish yourself by playing tees that have you hitting longer clubs into par 4s.

I do, but I was merely responding to the question regarding what difference course length makes.  In my weekend games, they require me to play from the back tees and it does make a huge difference.

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This used to be the conventional wisdom, but some of the newer statistical analyses suggest that it might not be the best policy.  Most players will have better results when they're hitting from closer to the green, all other factors being equal.  I've worked the past few years on doing just this, NOT laying back to ___ yards, but getting as close as I can without taking on too much additional risk.  I'll happily get to 50 or 60 yards, and now that I have a little experience under my belt with those shots, I'm confident I'll hit a decent one.  It took some getting used to, and some practice, but its worth the effort.


Aware of strokes gained and this approach. This works well for someone that works on their game and has the ability to adjust to the odd distances and does well managing their way around a course. Would love to see numbers for the average handicap player the follow the differing approach. I personally think they would benefit from playing aggressively but picking spots that won’t get themselves into bad trouble when they have their typical miss. Then play to middle of greens and not chasing pins. The question is do players have the patience to play the game in that manner?
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... The most important criteria for choosing appropriate yardage is: are you hitting the club the course designer intended you to hit? Obviously if you have an erratic swing and game, distance may not mean as much if any hole can be a struggle. But if you have some reasonable consistency, choosing a distance that allows you to play the course they way it is designed to be played is essential. 

... I will use my favorite local muni as an example. 2nd hole is a 340yd shortish uphill par 4 that doglegs 90* left with two bunkers guarding the corner. There is a deep bunker with extremely thick rough surrounding it protecting the green. I hit my 2 iron around 220 and that gets me even with or just past the corner, leaving me a pw-9 iron approach to a narrow green where that bunker must be avoided at all costs. If you cannot hit a drive 210 or longer, you don't have a look at the green and will be hitting something longer than a short iron which means even if you do carry the bunker, you probably wont be able to hold the green. That is not the way this hole is designed to be played. 

... The 7th hole is a long tough uphill par 4 the usually plays into the wind. At 430 yds it is a very difficult hole for better players and has 2 deep bunkers on the left side to grab errant shots that are a little left, usually from better players. It plays 405 from the front tees and the front is open for a run up shot with a fairway wood and the right side, where most higher index players can end up is a grass bunker with normal depth grass, actually providing a little cushion under the ball for an easy chip/pitch. So it is the hardest hole on the course but fair for both low and high index players.

... #12 is a 520 yd par 5 with thick woods and a creek on the left and the hole is about a 45* dogleg left with OB right. It calls for at least a 230yd drive to  have a shot around the trees with a big tree guarding the corner. Anything short of that means you won't even have a look at the fairway and chances are your 2nd shot will end up in the deep rough. So playing the forward tees at 480 means a 190yd drive will at least give you a look at the fairway and a chance to leave your 2nd shot in position to play to the green. 

... I would add there are certainly some older players and women that are very good with hybrids and fairway woods, so they can play a course that isn't exactly the the way it was designed to be played, yet they have the skill with long clubs to hit it high enough with a soft enough landing to hold the green. Like everything in this awesome game, it is not a cut and dried "distance only" dilemma, but something that takes your physical and mental skills into account when deciding what distance to play to provide that balance between Fun and Challenge.   

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No doubt this!!  Next time we tee it up together at WW you'll be seeing me in front of you from the Whites, and heck maybe even the golds 


And this is a big reason why courses should stick to labeling the tee boxes with colors only. As soon as the terms “senior” or “ladies” tees get used, some people’s egos take over against what is best for their game (as if it is an insult or something).

I regularly play with guys I drive it 30-50yds past and they insist on playing from the same boxes as I do. They’re giving up 3-4 clubs on some holes, and then get frustrated when I’m hitting 9 iron and they’ve got 6 iron. Just move up! That’s why we have different boxes!


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25 minutes ago, CarlH said:

I do, but I was merely responding to the question regarding what difference course length makes.  In my weekend games, they require me to play from the back tees and it does make a huge difference.

Why are you forced to play from back tees? I play with several seniors who used to play back until they found out a buddy of ours who moved out of state moved up a tee ox, now they do too.

we play money games and their handicap is adjusted for the tees they play just as ours are if we decide to go back to the tips.

golf is supposed to be fun and handicap system is there to account for the differences in skills.

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