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Thoughts on Shot Shaping?


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5 hours ago, TimoTe said:

What I glean from your question is more about course management than shot shape.

After I my post, I thought the same, but by then it was too late or I was too lazy to change the title.  It seems like the majority of us are playing our go to stock shot whenever possible as we should with a few outliers.  

I'd be curious to see how the different levels of golfers think through a round.  0 - 5, 6 - 10, 11 - 15, etc....I wonder if you'd find that there is a lot  less input from the surroundings as you get to a lower handicap.

 

Appreciate the feedback from all.  Much of this is coming from my round with my boss and really does stem from the course management conversation.

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14 minutes ago, juspoole said:

I'd be curious to see how the different levels of golfers think through a round.  0 - 5, 6 - 10, 11 - 15, etc....I wonder if you'd find that there is a lot  less input from the surroundings as you get to a lower handicap.

So I'm a 6 handicap currently, and I'm one who tries to play my stock shot unless its an emergency of some kind.  I'd say I use a lot of "input from the surroundings", I'm always evaluating where the trouble lies on a specific shot, where is the best combination of aggressive (get as close as possible) and safe (minimize "bad outcomes").  If there's OB on one side, I'm aiming at the edge of the fairway on the other side.  I'd rather be in the woods than OB.  If I'm not 75% to 80% certain I can clear a hazard, I'm looking to lay up.  I'll play away form bunkers, or pick a club that (mostly) takes them out of play.  I'm never looking for Zero Risk, that would mean hitting wedge all the way to the hole, I'm looking for closest to the hole with acceptable risk.  But to evaluate risk, you need to understand the surroundings, and you need to understand your own game, your own shot distribution.  And there's the reason to go with the "standard" shot pattern as much as possible, most people will have a tighter shot distribution with their "standard" shot.

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I can hit a fade better than a draw because I started golf with a slice.  But either one is difficult; I mostly try to hit straight.  If I have to hit one or the other because of "conditions" where I can't go straight, it's "hit and hope".  However, I will never try one of those shots with a club that would put me into more trouble than where I am.  For example, I wouldn't hit a club around a tree that if I hit it well, would go straight into the water.  

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I always hit a cut, always!  For this shot I'd aim at the inside corner, let it cut and make sure I used a club that wouldn't go thru the fairway. 

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3 hours ago, cnosil said:

 


While statistically true not sure 50% up and down rate is very sustainable over time. Probably closer to 30%.

 

It is more of a mental adjustment to take a look at the yardages and plan on bogey for holes that might be just outside of GIR. 

For instance, a 450 yd par 4. Instead of going for the green on your second shot and making double when you miss wildly, you lay up to a yardage you know you can get up and down at least 50% of the time. Then at worst you get bogey and best is par. 

 

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It is more of a mental adjustment to take a look at the yardages and plan on bogey for holes that might be just outside of GIR. 
For instance, a 450 yd par 4. Instead of going for the green on your second shot and making double when you miss wildly, you lay up to a yardage you know you can get up and down at least 50% of the time. Then at worst you get bogey and best is par. 
 

I understand what you are saying, but getting up and down 50% if the time isn’t a realistic expectation to have it place on yourself. You are basically hitting every chip/pitch to inside 8 feet to accoMplish that up and down percentage.
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15 minutes ago, TimoTe said:

It is more of a mental adjustment to take a look at the yardages and plan on bogey for holes that might be just outside of GIR. 

For instance, a 450 yd par 4. Instead of going for the green on your second shot and making double when you miss wildly, you lay up to a yardage you know you can get up and down at least 50% of the time. Then at worst you get bogey and best is par. 

@cnosil is correct.  Just a look at the PGA Tour statistics from last season, middle of the pack got up and down about 32% from 30 yards or more.  From between 20 and 30 yards, the mid-level PGA Tour pro was about 55%.  Laying up will NEVER get you to a 50% up and down rate, not unless you're better than most Tour pros.  And for most 15 handicappers (I know, I'm picking on you a little bit), hitting the green and 2-putting for bogey isn't sure thing after a lay-up.  I'm a 6-handicap, and I still take 4 to get down from 80 yards sometimes.  Not that laying up is always a bad choice, but a player should be realistic about his expectations.

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3 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

@cnosil is correct.  Just a look at the PGA Tour statistics from last season, middle of the pack got up and down about 32% from 30 yards or more.  From between 20 and 30 yards, the mid-level PGA Tour pro was about 55%.  Laying up will NEVER get you to a 50% up and down rate, not unless you're better than most Tour pros.  And for most 15 handicappers (I know, I'm picking on you a little bit), hitting the green and 2-putting for bogey isn't sure thing after a lay-up.  I'm a 6-handicap, and I still take 4 to get down from 80 yards sometimes.  Not that laying up is always a bad choice, but a player should be realistic about his expectations.

Pick away. I am totally fine with it. I have shot 7 over more than a handful of times and those were my best days. 

My point is just taking the pressure off of always thinking you have to go for the green to make GIR can cost you more strokes than it should. 

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1 minute ago, TimoTe said:

Pick away. I am totally fine with it. I have shot 7 over more than a handful of times and those were my best days. 

My point is just taking the pressure off of always thinking you have to go for the green to make GIR can cost you more strokes than it should. 

I agree, shot selection has to be based on something other than "This is a par-4, I have to try to hit the green".  Each shot should be evaluated based on potential risks and benefits.  And every shot should be evaluated without considering how many times you've hit the ball already.  The right shot selection is the one that produces the lowest score on average from this spot in to the hole.  And so often its not a binary choice.  Its not 3-wood in trouble vs 7-iron in the middle of the fairway.  You'll hit some great 3-woods, and hit some 7-irons in the woods, every choice is among shades of gray.

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I've also wondered frequently at what level do you start considering shaping your shots.  I've never thought of trying to shape until I'm like 5 handicap, but I know that is a flawed way of thinking in a lot of ways.  Others have hit the nail on the head in that it is more about course management than shaping (at least for the vast majority of us).

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3 hours ago, TimoTe said:

Pick away. I am totally fine with it. I have shot 7 over more than a handful of times and those were my best days. 

My point is just taking the pressure off of always thinking you have to go for the green to make GIR can cost you more strokes than it should. 

If you look at strokes gained this is inaccurate. Nowhere do you score less farther away from the hole. 

25 minutes ago, den748 said:

I've also wondered frequently at what level do you start considering shaping your shots.  I've never thought of trying to shape until I'm like 5 handicap, but I know that is a flawed way of thinking in a lot of ways.  Others have hit the nail on the head in that it is more about course management than shaping (at least for the vast majority of us).

Once you get on tour. And even then they play their stock shot the vast majority of the time. 

Take me for example, low handicap, I practice/play 4 times a week or more. If I was to start having two different shapes I would have to increase my practice time twofold. Ain't gonna happen. 

Yes I can move the ball in different directions, however I can't do it consistently and nowhere near good enough to do it on course with anything on the line, unless I am forced to.

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2 hours ago, THEZIPR23 said:

If you look at strokes gained this is inaccurate. Nowhere do you score less farther away from the hole. 

I would disagree. Everything I have seen shows fairway bunkers and hitting from the long grass adds strokes. Additionally, green-side bunkers add strokes too. 

Take my earlier example of a 450 yd par 4 with trouble out at 270-300 yds and a small green surrounded by bunkers or water. 

A 260 drive leaves 190 to the center of the green. My argument is that this is a perfect time to plan on bogey and layup to your favorite short game shot instead of going for the green. The aggregate score of a player in this scenario would be lower laying up than going for it. 

A low single digit player isn't as worried about 190 yards so missing in a green-side bunkers is at worst bogey much of the time = the same potential worst case. 

Lastly, I heard recently that players that keep a handicap are in the top 20% or higher of golfers so, strokes gained is not counting at least 80% of golf played (probably closer to 95%). Strokes gained is based on the better players more than the "average" golfer shooting 100+. 

I think we are both partially right depending on specifics.

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I have a driving iron that goes straight that I play for anything approaching narrow or anything that doglegs right (righty).

My driver always draws, and if I snap my hands it always hooks. I would play a stock driver shot on that hypothetical hole and aim at the right edge of the fairway. At a 16 handicap I’m not trying to shape anything ever.

A 260 drive leaves 190 to the center of the green. My argument is that this is a perfect time to plan on bogey and layup to your favorite short game shot instead of going for the green. The aggregate score of a player in this scenario would be lower laying up than going for it. 


I’m a pretty decent iron player, I can carry a 5i 190, but I would never leave myself 190 on purpose, especially if it relied on a perfectly bombed drive to get there. My game plan for an hypothetical “eff you” 450yd par 4 is 5i (if it goes 190-200, awesome, if not, adjust) then 8i (counting on getting 150 out of it, if not, no big deal), then fire a 100yd easy 52* wedge (my zen club). That’s how I take the big numbers out of play. If my pitching and chipping wasn’t a dumpster fire maybe it would be different, but you gotta play w the game you got. I’m better off hitting 3 from 100 in the fairway than from 37 in the rough on the side of a hill under a tree branch.



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450 yards for most high handicap players is a par 5. Even if it is a par 4, it's likely a hole they'd be getting a shot on, so not exactly the best example.

I would disagree. Everything I have seen shows fairway bunkers and hitting from the long grass adds strokes. Additionally, green-side bunkers add strokes too. 
Take my earlier example of a 450 yd par 4 with trouble out at 270-300 yds and a small green surrounded by bunkers or water. 
A 260 drive leaves 190 to the center of the green. My argument is that this is a perfect time to plan on bogey and layup to your favorite short game shot instead of going for the green. The aggregate score of a player in this scenario would be lower laying up than going for it. 
A low single digit player isn't as worried about 190 yards so missing in a green-side bunkers is at worst bogey much of the time = the same potential worst case. 
Lastly, I heard recently that players that keep a handicap are in the top 20% or higher of golfers so, strokes gained is not counting at least 80% of golf played (probably closer to 95%). Strokes gained is based on the better players more than the "average" golfer shooting 100+. 
I think we are both partially right depending on specifics.


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I've also wondered frequently at what level do you start considering shaping your shots.  I've never thought of trying to shape until I'm like 5 handicap, but I know that is a flawed way of thinking in a lot of ways.  Others have hit the nail on the head in that it is more about course management than shaping (at least for the vast majority of us).

In some ways, I think that idea is backwards. A lot of high handicaps have a lot of shape to their shots and a two way miss. Most better players hit the ball strait. As a 20 cap right now, i rarely hit anything strait, I always have a shape in mind to trigger my swing. I think it’s more about control than shape. Much easier to aim one way and make a deliberate draw/fade swing than to line up down the middle and try to hit it strait. At the end of the day it’s about managing your tendencies. I tend to start the ball at the target, and bleed it off line, so I aim left or right of target and shape it to the target.

Plus I’m all about getting better as a player, sure hitting the same shot every time will help your score short term, but trying those shots is the only way to get better at them and really improve in the long run.


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37 minutes ago, FrogginBullfish said:

450 yards for most high handicap players is a par 5. Even if it is a par 4, it's likely a hole they'd be getting a shot on, so not exactly the best example.

 


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Most of the time I see people playing a tee or two beyond their ability. I see the exact scenario I presented all the time.

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1 hour ago, TimoTe said:

I would disagree. Everything I have seen shows fairway bunkers and hitting from the long grass adds strokes. Additionally, green-side bunkers add strokes too. 

Take my earlier example of a 450 yd par 4 with trouble out at 270-300 yds and a small green surrounded by bunkers or water. 

A 260 drive leaves 190 to the center of the green. My argument is that this is a perfect time to plan on bogey and layup to your favorite short game shot instead of going for the green. The aggregate score of a player in this scenario would be lower laying up than going for it. 

A low single digit player isn't as worried about 190 yards so missing in a green-side bunkers is at worst bogey much of the time = the same potential worst case. 

Lastly, I heard recently that players that keep a handicap are in the top 20% or higher of golfers so, strokes gained is not counting at least 80% of golf played (probably closer to 95%). Strokes gained is based on the better players more than the "average" golfer shooting 100+. 

I think we are both partially right depending on specifics.

You are correct on the fairway bunkers, especially the 60-85 yarders, SG goes way up on those even on tour. Rough is about -.25 but the distance gain is generally a larger gain. 

Your example, while I would say is not great, I understand your point. 

If you were to run the SG on it would say go for the green every time (penalty strokes are not considered). 

If there were to be a hazard around the green, it would be dependent on player and their distance, but in yours a player hitting it 260 off tee is going to hit 4 iron at worse to the green. Which means go for it. 

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14 minutes ago, LeftyRM7 said:



Plus I’m all about getting better as a player, sure hitting the same shot every time will help your score short term, but trying those shots is the only way to get better at them and really improve in the long run.


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I’m sure he has said something similar about this on here but I would love to hear @edteergolf thoughts on this. 

Not picking on you, I just think that if you are serious about getting better this thinking is completely backwards. 

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I've been labeled as the boring golfer.  I hit it straight down the middle and play smart golf. I don't usually try to do something I'm not capable of or get in situations that's going to cost me a shot or penal. Thus the boring golfer label. 

In this case I would play up the left side and put it in the center of the fairway with whatever club I needed for the distance to do it.  Then take it from there. No matter what they say trees are not 80% air. 

 

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I think the example is more of a hypothetical. A 550 yard par 5 or a 350 yard par 4 are less controversial.

 

 

If there were to be a hazard around the green, it would be dependent on player and their distance, but in yours a player hitting it 260 off tee is going to hit 4 iron at worse to the green. Which means go for it. 

 

In my own game, I know I have a better chance making par if my 3rd shot is a full pitching wedge or gap wedge from the fairway (skytrak +0.5 handicap 100% of greens/5) vs wherever a 190 yard 5 iron (skytrak -19 handicap 1/5 greens) will leave me (137 feet away on average, tendency left). If there are hazards or bunkers etc it makes the choice even easier.

 

The other thing factoring into this for me is a 260 yard drive is not a high probability fairway shot for me, I can hit a lot of fairways at 240, and if I step on it I can miss a lot at 260. A 450yd par 4 means I’m playing the wrong tees, but with my game, to stack 2 low probability shots together is asking for a big number.

 

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