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GolfSpy MPR

The course taking driver out of your hands

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I obsess just a bit over my golf stats. As I'm chronicling my goal of getting down to a single-figure handicap, I watch the way Game Golf compares me to various benchmarks in driving, approach, short game, and putting. In general, my short game and driving are worse than would be expected for my handicap, while the other categories are better.

My off-the-tee game is poor chiefly because I'm not a long hitter. In July-August of last year, my drives averaged under 200 yards. While some of this is a lack of power, most of it is poor strike: far too many pop-up drives that fly like a 7 iron. This year, I've managed to increse that number over the same time frame to 220 yards, which is still not great, but within striking distance of normal for my handicap.

This has resulted in my strokes-lost driving number falling about a stroke and half. But I'm still losing (according to GG) about 2 strokes per round to a 10-handicap with my tee game. Digging a bit deeper into the numbers, this two-stroke deficit puzzled me. I hit 10% more fairways while averaging 9 yards less per drive (with my driver; this is important) than an average 10-cap. That doesn't seem to add up to losing two strokes per round, at least to me.

The reason seems to be that my average tee shot (with all clubs) is still only 196 yards. While I assume that this number doesn't include par 3s, it does include a number of holes at my course in which driver either can't be played or (sometimes) isn't the prudent play. There are 5 holes at my course where driver is simply not even an option:

  • Hole 2: a 267 yard par 4 with a 90° dogleg left. The play off the tee is normally a GW or PW into the corner.
  • Hole 10: a 315 yard par 4 that doglegs left. I ordinarily hit a 7-iron off the tee over part of the dogleg.
  • Hole 11: a 352 yard par 4 that doglegs 90° right. If the back tees are up, challenging the dogleg (over in-course OB) is an option. Otherwise, a 3w or hybrid into the corner is the play.
  • Hole 13: a 367 yard par 4 that bends left. Driver is possible here, but it had better be perfect. Woods on both sides and a fairway bunker on the right. Left is dead because of the hole shape: you end up blocked out by the woods.
  • Hole 14: a 356 yard par 4 that dogleg 90° left. Without wind, I'm hitting a 5-iron just under 200 yards into the corner.

For stats purposes, Game Golf is blind to all of this. It sees hole 2, for instance and almost certainly penalizes me every round for hitting a 125-yard "drive."

Anyway, it's interesting to me to realize the way that a short course like mine (just over 6,000 yards) tries to defend itself. It doesn't feel totally contrived (like placing an obstacle or ditch right in the normal driver landing area), but it certainly changes how the holes are played (and the resulting stats!).

On your regular course, how many similar holes do you face? I'm not asking chiefly about holes in which you might want to use less than driver just for control, but par 4s and 5s in which driver simply cannot be played at all?

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We have a course like that by me and I absolutely refuse to play it anymore.  No par 4 should ever force a player to hit less than a 6 iron  (185-190 yard shot) off the tee.  And a course that requires a player to do it more than once is just tricked out to make up for the lack of reasonable length.

Is there an option to play longer tees?  

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... I am with jlukes. I just won't play a course that forces you to hit mid irons off the tee. If the only play is hitting a mid iron off the tee, it is just a very, very poor design. That said, I love a great risk reward hole that allows you to hit a longer club with high risk but the prudent play may be a 5 iron. Golf holes should always be about options, the more the merrier. 

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I think this is a confusing/subtle part of strokes gained that people don’t think about. Strokes gained is about how many strokes you should take from a particular distance. You can extrapolate how well you do from distances with particular clubs to see how well a club is working for you but that isn’t how strikes gained really works.

Basically from x yardage you should hole out in y strokes. If player A needs a driver, 5
Iron, and 2 putts they game no strokes over a player that hits 5 iron, lob wedge, lob wedge and 1 putt from a long game perspective. Player B may have lost strokes from a short game perspective and gained strokes for that 50 foot par putt.


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Agree with the above comments, but would also add that you may be relying on the Game Golf stats a bit too much. I don't even view it (completely) as a paralysis by analysis issue.

I had been a Game Golf user for years and I will admit that it did help me lower my handicap from somewhere a little higher than yours to about where you're sitting now. At that point, I simply plateaued. The data GG provides is decent at a bird's eye view, but closer examination began to raise more questions for me than answer them.  Eventually, I just stopped using it and went back to more traditional stats - fairways, greens, putts, bunkers, and penalties. Occasionally, I might jot down some notes about distances.

Utilizing the knowledge I gained through my use of Game Golf prior, and now looking at things in simpler terms, it became easy for me to extrapolate root cause for my score, but I was able to focus more on the game itself. With a little practice and some tweaks to my swing I broke that barrier and got down to my current handicap in roughly a year.

I've followed your journey to a lower handicap in your project thread, and it's evident you've put in the work and have the knowledge. Now comes the part where you need to test it on the course.

Another thing that's made a big difference for me personally, is that I've started playing more rounds with other people (even if I don't really know them). When I play by myself, I have a tendency to get too internal and make mental mistakes then compound issues. I'm not sure how most of your rounds are played, but if they aren't often with other players of similar skill or better, I'd recommend a change.

Sorry for all the unsolicited "advice", but it seems like you're on a similar path to the one I've been on and want to offer any assistance I can. 

Best wishes in achieving your goals. 🙂 

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40 minutes ago, jlukes said:

We have a course like that by me and I absolutely refuse to play it anymore.  No par 4 should ever force a player to hit less than a 6 iron  (185-190 yard shot) off the tee.  And a course that requires a player to do it more than once is just tricked out to make up for the lack of reasonable length.

Is there an option to play longer tees?  

Nope, I'm playing from the back tees. And both of the courses within 25 miles of where I live (yep, both: two courses) top out around the same yardage.

You guys with options about which course you're going to play have it pretty good.

33 minutes ago, chisag said:

... I am with jlukes. I just won't play a course that forces you to hit mid irons off the tee. If the only play is hitting a mid iron off the tee, it is just a very, very poor design. That said, I love a great risk reward hole that allows you to hit a longer club with high risk but the prudent play may be a 5 iron. Golf holes should always be about options, the more the merrier. 

There are several more holes that do ask you how bold you want to be off the tee. Because the course is heavily wooded, a miss either direction often means taking a lateral drop from the forest.

  • Hole 4 is a short par 5 (482 yards) with a tee shot down a chute. There's a pond on the left of the landing area, and then two trees in play making positioning a shot crucial.
  • Hole 6 is another tough tee shot: tree lined down the right, OB (road) left.
  • Hole 12 is a very short par 4 (300 yards) with forest right. Big hitters can get near (or on) the green, with the risk of a costly miss.
  • Hole 13 (mentioned above) allows for a driver, if you're really accurate.
  • Hole 14 (also mentioned above) allows the biggest hitters to go over the trees and cut the corner. The hole is listed at 363, but it's about 330 to the green on a straight line. I have a good friend (@Erik-M) who has that shot, and it's fun to watch.
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2 minutes ago, TR1PTIK said:

Another thing that's made a big difference for me personally, is that I've started playing more rounds with other people (even if I don't really know them). When I play by myself, I have a tendency to get too internal and make mental mistakes then compound issues. I'm not sure how most of your rounds are played, but if they aren't often with other players of similar skill or better, I'd recommend a change.

Right now, I'm playing most of my rounds with my sons. They're a terrible distraction from scoring, especially Christopher, who (at 4) is still pretty good at forgetting his putter somewhere on the previous hole and forcing us to go back.

But I wouldn't change my playing partners 🙂

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Just now, GolfSpy MPR said:

Right now, I'm playing most of my rounds with my sons. They're a terrible distraction from scoring, especially Christopher, who (at 4) is still pretty good at forgetting his putter somewhere on the previous hole and forcing us to go back.

But I wouldn't change my playing partners 🙂

I can't blame you there! 

Perhaps the objective of those rounds should be a little less about score though. Or maybe just try to break the course up into smaller segments so it's a bit easier to digest while pulling double duty as dad and golfer. I'd think 3-hole segments would be pretty ideal personally.

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... Here is an example of one of my favorite holes on my favorite local course. It is the #2 hole. I think it is a great example of a short hole with a myriad of options:

339 from the Blues and 315 from the Whites.

3 bunkers guard the left side of the dogleg and from the Blues they start at 210 and from the Whites 186. Probably 230 and 206 to clear them. 

Plays into the prevailing wind and uphill to the dogleg, then back downhill and then uphill to the green. 

60% of the green is guarded by a very deep bunker that is not a problem for a decent bunker player, but a very difficult shot for the unskilled. AND it is lined with 10" deep grass and it is hard to find your ball if you are in it. 

It is maybe 285 as the crow flies so it is drivable with a great shot but the deep rough surrounding the green make it a sucker play, especially if your ball ends up in the bunker grass. Since the green is not visible from the tee, a shot ending up in the deep bunker grass could easily never be found. 

Most high index players just hit driver. Mid index a mix of driver and fairway wood. Single digits hit iron off the tee leaving a 125-95yd shot to a small green. And the prevailing wind can change on any given day making it play very differently. 

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On 8/20/2019 at 1:10 PM, GolfSpy MPR said:

Nope, I'm playing from the back tees. And both of the courses within 25 miles of where I live (yep, both: two courses) top out around the same yardage.

You guys with options about which course you're going to play have it pretty good.

There are several more holes that do ask you how bold you want to be off the tee. Because the course is heavily wooded, a miss either direction often means taking a lateral drop from the forest.

  • Hole 4 is a short par 5 (482 yards) with a tee shot down a chute. There's a pond on the left of the landing area, and then two trees in play making positioning a shot crucial.
  • Hole 6 is another tough tee shot: tree lined down the right, OB (road) left.
  • Hole 12 is a very short par 4 (300 yards) with forest right. Big hitters can get near (or on) the green, with the risk of a costly miss.
  • Hole 13 (mentioned above) allows for a driver, if you're really accurate.
  • Hole 14 (also mentioned above) allows the biggest hitters to go over the trees and cut the corner. The hole is listed at 363, but it's about 330 to the green on a straight line. I have a good friend (@Erik-M) who has that shot, and it's fun to watch.

I'd be curious to know the name of the course and see from a coaching perspective if there other options available.  

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