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azstu324

Playing the hole backwards...

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Lots of thoughtful responses thus far and I’ve enjoyed reading about everyone’s varied approach.

Rather than bomb it all day, I’m much more likely pick my spots when the aggressive play conditionally works to my advantage. I’m essentially looking for opportunities to safely open up angles. More-so than overall length, hole location on the green is the fundamental variable in my strategy calculus.

As @DaveP043 mentioned, the spin, speed and trajectory (relatively known variables) that result from full swings, require much more complex judgement and feel, at half yardages - even if the lie is perfect. Properly judging and executing a 50 yard shot from rough or an old divot is going to be a very high tariff if the situation only offers a single shot option.

I don’t really have any weak spots in my short game and I’m likely to shoot similar numbers reaching for the driver all day or plotting my way around the course with fairway stats the priority. But in the long run, I’m probably going to have more rounds over par with the full tilt aggressive approach, in the form of trouble off the tee and high tariff situations. And that style of play is also going to be more mentally, emotionally & physically stressful.

At my home course, driver can potentially put me well inside full wedge range on (6) of (10) Par 4s. And while I have given each of them a go multiple times respectively, there has never been a round where it made statistical sense for me to hit driver on all of them. Wind, turf conditions and hole location either align for success or they don’t. And when they don’t, pushing my luck doesn’t pay enough dividends to justify the risk.

I learned a long time ago, golf is most productive (and enjoyable) when I’m playing from the fairway regularly. I’m always on the lookout for a deck stacked in my favor, but having patience to avoid the long odds was a big factor in my development from low single digit to a steady plus handicap.

When I have time, I’ll post some flyover examples that I regularly face, to offer visual perspective on my decision making process.

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Lots of thoughtful responses thus far and I’ve enjoyed reading about everyone’s varied approach.
Rather than bomb it all day, I’m much more likely pick my spots when the aggressive play conditionally works to my advantage. I’m essentially looking for opportunities to safely open up angles. More-so than overall length, hole location on the green is the fundamental variable in my strategy calculus.
As [mention=53160]DaveP043[/mention] mentioned, the spin, speed and trajectory (relatively known variables) that result from full swings, require much more complex judgement and feel, at half yardages - even if the lie is perfect. Properly judging and executing a 50 yard shot from rough or an old divot is going to be a very high tariff if the situation only offers a single shot option.
I don’t really have any weak spots in my short game and I’m likely to shoot similar numbers reaching for the driver all day or plotting my way around the course with fairway stats the priority. But in the long run, I’m probably going to have more rounds over par with the full tilt aggressive approach, in the form of trouble off the tee and high tariff situations. And that style of play is also going to be more mentally, emotionally & physically stressful.
At my home course, driver can potentially put me well inside full wedge range on (6) of (10) Par 4s. And while I have given each of them a go multiple times respectively, there has never been a round where it made statistical sense for me to hit driver on all of them. Wind, turf conditions and hole location either align for success or they don’t. And when they don’t, pushing my luck doesn’t pay enough dividends to justify the risk.
I learned a long time ago, golf is most productive (and enjoyable) when I’m playing from the fairway regularly. I’m always on the lookout for a deck stacked in my favor, but having patience to avoid the long odds was a big factor in my development from low single digit to a steady plus handicap.
When I have time, I’ll post some flyover examples that I regularly face, to offer visual perspective on my decision making process.


Nice - really appreciate the post - using a careful analysis of how your game fits at that course and the adjusting according to conditions.

I doubt that Dave P or others who are advocating hitting it as close to the green as possible would mean taking unnecessary risks to do so. There are missed fairways and there are missed fairways if you follow me.

Missed fairway number one is when I’ve taken driver and hit it I to light rough with a great angle to the pin 25 yards farther than the 3 wood in the fairway that I could have hit. In that example I’m going to average a closer proximity to the hole with the ball that’s closer.

Missed fairway number 2 is where I tried to fit driver into too tight a space or it went through a fairway and into trees, a hazard, a fairway trap (statistical death for many Ams) or extremely thick summertime Bermuda rough. Well it’s foolish to hit driver there. At least for me it would be - I don’t make enough birdies to offset the doubles and triples that I would make playing that way.

The OP was posing the question of should I lay up to a number or get as close as possible because it seems to him that he hits his full shot irons closer than his part wedges. My suggestion to him remains the same; analyze the game to see if that’s true, if it is, work on your partial wedges because they should net a closer proximity to the hole.

I absolutely agree with downlowkey that there are a variety of factors that might cause a person to lay back but I’m reading this as a question about the general rule.


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Lots of good inputs here so far.

While not necessarily a 'green-to-tee' approach I do build a strategy card for each competitive round. It's really my tee shot I'm targeting rather than the approach. I just use my known tee club (D, 3W, Hyb) yardages and look for the largest landing area that gives me the shortest yardage into the green.  If, for instance, the driver yardage gives me 125 yards to the green but the landing area is narrowed by bunkers/trees etc. I'll opt for the 3W and take 140 and the larger landing area.

On par 5 holes, since I rarely get to think about going for the green on my 2nd, I take the same approach to my layup. I've built up my wedge game though to where I have pretty confident distances for 1/2 to 3/4 swings. I've lost the link but there was a training video I watched that was similar to the 'clock system' but made more mechanical sense to me since it based controlling the length of the back swing on a body reference. (hip, belt, ribs, chest, shoulder, full). Through some practice I got smart distances for 3 wedges with 4 basic yardages for each.

It did take dedicating a fair amount of practice time to wedges but search for how the top pros spend their practice time and wedge play is about 1/2 of their time.

My best answer to course management questions is play to the position that gives you the most confidence for you next shot. I got some funny looks this league season pulling hybrid on a par 5 tee box, but at the end of the season I was overall 3rd of 56  players.

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Lots of good inputs here so far.
While not necessarily a 'green-to-tee' approach I do build a strategy card for each competitive round. It's really my tee shot I'm targeting rather than the approach. I just use my known tee club (D, 3W, Hyb) yardages and look for the largest landing area that gives me the shortest yardage into the green.  If, for instance, the driver yardage gives me 125 yards to the green but the landing area is narrowed by bunkers/trees etc. I'll opt for the 3W and take 140 and the larger landing area.
On par 5 holes, since I rarely get to think about going for the green on my 2nd, I take the same approach to my layup. I've built up my wedge game though to where I have pretty confident distances for 1/2 to 3/4 swings. I've lost the link but there was a training video I watched that was similar to the 'clock system' but made more mechanical sense to me since it based controlling the length of the back swing on a body reference. (hip, belt, ribs, chest, shoulder, full). Through some practice I got smart distances for 3 wedges with 4 basic yardages for each.
It did take dedicating a fair amount of practice time to wedges but search for how the top pros spend their practice time and wedge play is about 1/2 of their time.
My best answer to course management questions is play to the position that gives you the most confidence for you next shot. I got some funny looks this league season pulling hybrid on a par 5 tee box, but at the end of the season I was overall 3rd of 56  players.
I've heard of similar strategies based on finding the larger or safer part of the fairway for the landing zone and choosing the tee club accordingly.

This has been great to get into the minds of other golfers like y'all. I'm 100% self-taught or I should say self-motivated. I've never taken a personal lesson but I've seeked out as much wisdom, knowledge, tips, pointers, examples, etc. that I can, to build my game. Getting to the next level in 2020 is going to require a better understanding of course management and adding these skills to the tool belt will be extremely valuable.

Thx again everybody!

the more I practice, the luckier I seem to get..

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4 hours ago, GregB135 said:

My best answer to course management questions is play to the position that gives you the most confidence for you next shot.

This is the one thing in the post that I disagree with.  This is the old "hit it to a good distance for you" mantra that has been statistically disproved.  For most players, an uncomfortable half-wedge from 60 yards is likely to end up closer than a comfortable confident full-swing wedge from 100 yards.  And if you practice a bit, or even just give yourself opportunities to hit those half-wedges on the course, they won't be uncomfortable for long.

And as @revkev mentioned a few posts back, I don't advocate blindly hitting the longest club all the time, you absolutely have to evaluate the width of the fairway, the presence and severity of "problem areas", the shape of the green and surrounding challenges, lots of factors.  But speaking in generalities, understanding there are lots of factors to consider, the starting point to all of my decisions is "closer is better."

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10 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

This is the one thing in the post that I disagree with.  This is the old "hit it to a good distance for you" mantra that has been statistically disproved.  For most players, an uncomfortable half-wedge from 60 yards is likely to end up closer than a comfortable confident full-swing wedge from 100 yards.  And if you practice a bit, or even just give yourself opportunities to hit those half-wedges on the course, they won't be uncomfortable for long.

And as @revkev mentioned a few posts back, I don't advocate blindly hitting the longest club all the time, you absolutely have to evaluate the width of the fairway, the presence and severity of "problem areas", the shape of the green and surrounding challenges, lots of factors.  But speaking in generalities, understanding there are lots of factors to consider, the starting point to all of my decisions is "closer is better."

Totally agree with you on this one @DaveP043. I think where this strategy goes wrong is when there isn't an honest assessment from the player at the potential spread of the longer clubs.

Take your longest club that you will confidently (therein lies the need for honesty) get you to a safe landing spot. Light rough from 100yds is probably much better statistically than fairway from 140yds.

The honesty is what gets me into trouble. I'll take a look at a hole, feel "confident", grab the driver and slap it into the adjacent field. No bueno 😂

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35 minutes ago, ncwoz said:

The honesty is what gets me into trouble. I'll take a look at a hole, feel "confident", grab the driver and slap it into the adjacent field. No bueno 😂

Even the best decision-making can be undone by poor execution.  I actually see this fairly often, a player will make a smart choice, hit a poor shot, and then complain about the poor choice he made.  "No, you made a really smart choice, you just screwed up the shot"

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8 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

Even the best decision-making can be undone by poor execution.  I actually see this fairly often, a player will make a smart choice, hit a poor shot, and then complain about the poor choice he made.  "No, you made a really smart choice, you just screwed up the shot"

Decision making and shot execution are two things I can do equally poorly.  🙄

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There is a lot of good advice in this thread. @revkev pretty much nailed it. A Chinese proverb goes something like this "You can't know where you are going until you know where you are." Without the data it is difficult to ascertain what will help and what will hurt. 

As far as the original question you can absolutely play the course backwards but what my own research, my own game and what strokes gained has taught me is that playing from tee to green will give you the best statistical advantage. There are of course exceptions but generally this will hold true. And as Dave pointed out don't mix up course management and execution. They are two very different things.

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This is an interesting pic. Who would you rather be red or blue? Both are exact same proximity to hole, 37.1 feet. 1661763192_Screenshot2019-10-22at12_37_28PM.thumb.png.32adaec8037f606d67e330de5c334229.png


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I'm definitely going to be investing in some sort of data management program here shortly. The comments regarding tracking strokes gained/lost definitely ring true and figuring out exactly where I'm losing those strokes will be imperative. 

Currently I'm seeing my overall game like this (very generalized): Realistically, my average score over 15 rounds is 80. This can be a mix of playing from the tips or one up.. as previously mentioned, my playing dynamics will vary depending on who I'm playing with. I realize that all of the individual course difficulty/hdcp. stats can play into this but I'm just trying to paint a broad picture. On average, par for the various courses included is 72 (again very generalized). What this means is that I'm playing to roughly a 90% efficiency which includes both Execution and management. 

I realize that 90% sounds quite high but if we all consider 72 a perfect score, which in the overall picture of the game of golf and various skill levels the world over, it is. Not necessarily 72 but "Par". Quantifying the perfect score in a percentage of 100%, an average score of 80 (72/80) is 90% efficiency right? I realize it should be much more complex than that but I'm starting with this as to not overly complicate things. So ultimately I'm seeking to close that 10% window and you all are giving me some excellent ways to get there. 

Additionally I see this like weight loss, fitness, or any other goals that require effort to achieve. It's the last bit that will always be the most difficult and require a substantial amount of focus and discipline. Almost more-so than the previous 90%. 

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@Azstu - I was stunned by what l learned from the data - some things that i thought I was good at I wasn’t. This led to a different bag configuration and practice routine.

My consistency has improved immensely since making those changes.

Good luck!


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... I'll keep this simple. Your tee shot sets up the hole. The farther and straighter you can hit it the better. The driver is the most forgiving tee off club in the bag, so it makes sense to use it as often as you can.  I had a short 353 yd par 4 yesterday and a 2 iron off the tee gave me plenty of yardage to the widest part of the fairway and took water out of play. Without that water, I would have hit driver risking missing the narrowing fairway because a wedge is always better than an 8 iron.  

... Obviously water, bunkers and doglegs or fairways that run out can make driver the wrong choice, and there are those that struggle with their driver hitting slices and or hooks, so fairway wood, hybrid or even a long iron can be the better choice. Every under par round I have played was the result of hitting it straight and far off the tee. The mediocre rounds come from good and poor tee shots and all my high rounds come from hitting it poorly off the tee. I think the difference between low index and high index is just recovery from bad shots, especially bad tee shots. Hitting into the trees and punching out to 40 yds and getting up and down for par is the staple of  low index players. They hit many more bad shots than a high index player might think, they just recover. Higher index players make bad choices and then hit more bad shots compounding their tee error. Get it back in play as close to the green as is prudent. 

... But my advice to all golfers, even higher index players, is learn to hit partial shots. It is the backbone to scoring because the best laid plans can change with every tee shot. Hit it into the trees and have to punch out? Statistically you will score better punching it as far as possible with no danger involved. Not only will you score better with a 1/2 LW from 40 yds than you will with a full 110 yd shot, the chances of you hitting your "prefect" yardage punching out thru trees is pretty slim. 

... So don't over think it. Play the tee shot that gives you the shortest shot to the green as long as it is also a safe enough play. 

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3 hours ago, chisag said:

... I'll keep this simple. Your tee shot sets up the hole. The farther and straighter you can hit it the better. The driver is the most forgiving tee off club in the bag, so it makes sense to use it as often as you can.  I had a short 353 yd par 4 yesterday and a 2 iron off the tee gave me plenty of yardage to the widest part of the fairway and took water out of play. Without that water, I would have hit driver risking missing the narrowing fairway because a wedge is always better than an 8 iron.  

... Obviously water, bunkers and doglegs or fairways that run out can make driver the wrong choice, and there are those that struggle with their driver hitting slices and or hooks, so fairway wood, hybrid or even a long iron can be the better choice. Every under par round I have played was the result of hitting it straight and far off the tee. The mediocre rounds come from good and poor tee shots and all my high rounds come from hitting it poorly off the tee. I think the difference between low index and high index is just recovery from bad shots, especially bad tee shots. Hitting into the trees and punching out to 40 yds and getting up and down for par is the staple of  low index players. They hit many more bad shots than a high index player might think, they just recover. Higher index players make bad choices and then hit more bad shots compounding their tee error. Get it back in play as close to the green as is prudent. 

... But my advice to all golfers, even higher index players, is learn to hit partial shots. It is the backbone to scoring because the best laid plans can change with every tee shot. Hit it into the trees and have to punch out? Statistically you will score better punching it as far as possible with no danger involved. Not only will you score better with a 1/2 LW from 40 yds than you will with a full 110 yd shot, the chances of you hitting your "prefect" yardage punching out thru trees is pretty slim. 

... So don't over think it. Play the tee shot that gives you the shortest shot to the green as long as it is also a safe enough play. 

 

This really is the perfect answer to the OP's question!  

Bomb & Gauge It I Say!!  


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