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It's the short game stupid.

 
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Uisce Beatha
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It's the short game stupid.
« on: April 26, 2007, 07:56:12 PM »

Or is it?

Ben Hogan said, "The driver is what puts you in play.  You control that, you control your play."

Yet on golf boards everywhere it seems the consensus is to advise others to practice short game, short game, short game.  I have a theory about this.  Let me know what you think.

I believe most high handicappers would benefit more from trying to get reasonable length off the tee and, most importantly, a ball in play.  A lost ball or OB with the driver is much more expensive than a duffed chip or a three putt.  As I struggled my way down from a 28 index into the mid-teens it seems the turning point was really getting to the point where I could depend on my tee shots. 

Assuming I don't fall apart in that regard I think the next few years will see me spending more time on my short game.  I hadn't done that for years because it seemed having a wicked short game wasn't going to help me much if I'm lying four with my approach.  Now that I'm playing for pars as often as I used to play for bogeys and doubles I think short game improvement will help a lot.

Then, and this is fantasy land, if/when I get down to single digits it seems it might be time to dial in that long game so as to put myself in optimal position for my second shot.  I think if you're in that range your short game is obviously decent.  I'm sure there's always room for improvement but birdies come from being able to play for close to the hole with the approach.  Everyone makes a long putt or chips in here and there but putting for birdie from 15' has to be the better odds. 

So... my theory is that those who suggest short game practice is the path to lower scores are perhaps in the 7-17 range and players outside that might be better off figuring out that tee shot. 

Completely full of *feces*?  Moderately stupid?  Or a flash of genius?

 Smiley
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Aske
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2007, 08:10:10 PM »

.73 of 1 and .27 of the other
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Fuzzy
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2007, 08:41:18 PM »

You're either onto something, or on something, I can't decide.

I tend to agree with you. My story: 3 years ago I was a 12-ish handicap and decided to get more serious. Today I'm just over 6. I broke 80 for the first time two years ago. Last year I did it 7 times.

The first 4-5 shots came from getting better off the tee (length and accuracy) and better with approach shots. The next 1-2 came from chipping/putting. Of this I firmly believe.

You nailed it when you talked about the wicked short game. Putting has always been a strength, relatively speaking, of my game. But laying 2 next to a green instead of 3 or 4 means more than being able to knock down the putts as far as scoring. Now that I'm in single digits I am still working on hitting more greens. That, in my opinion, is a key stat for amateurs. You hit greens and you'll score. A great short game saves your ass for a while but you're just not going to score consistently low if you aren't hitting greens. YMMV, but it is a key indicator in my game.

It reminds me of the story about (insert pro/instructor). A golfer came off the course grumbling about not putting well. Pro says, let's go fix that. As they leave the clubhouse the pro heads to the range as the player turns to the putting green. Player says, hey, I said I wasn't putting well. Pro, says, I know, but putting is easier if you're closer to the hole with your approach shots.

Or something like that.

 
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Clive
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2007, 08:47:22 PM »

Completely full of *feces*.  Or just partially.

It depends on what makes the particular high-handicapper a high-handicapper.  Some have horrible swing flaws that affect every full swing.  Others are passable from tee to near-green, but just throw away strokes with terrible short games and/or dodgy putting.

Personally, I think the latter type is the more common.  I played a lot as a single, and most players were well above the 80s (that I shot without a wood in the golf bag, BTW, because I couldn't hit them straight).  They weren't the straightest and most accurate with woods and irons, but they were consistent with their mistakes -- a slicer knows he's going to slice every time and can play for it pretty well.  But they usually hacked it up around the green, and a surprising number of guys just couldn't putt to save their lives.

(Bear in mind that my short game sucks and I've been putting poorly of late, so it's not like I'm looking down on them or anything.  Just relating observations.)
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1puttpar
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2007, 10:20:44 PM »

The other aspect that is often overlooked is course management.  I continue to see high cappers trying to pull off shots most tour pros wouldn't attempt.  Once I figured out a bogey is better than a triple, my handicap came down even more.
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Fuzzy
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2007, 06:43:45 AM »

After thinking about my original reply and then reading Clive's post I must say I am now conflicted.

I have played with a couple guys in league from time to time over the years. And now that I think about it they fit Clive's example perfectly. From tee to green is mostly acceptable but the chipping and putting are abominable. (both shoot 95-105 usually) They both would be in the 80's no problem if they spent more time on the short game.

I was looking too much at what got me better. I still think the game gets easier if you increase your GIR.  Grin
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Uisce Beatha
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2007, 06:57:13 AM »

Fuzzy, I too have rethought parts of my original post.  I shouldn't have put hard numbers on the index range where short game work might be most effective.  But I still believe that there are points during the journey from high 'capper to low 'capper where it's NOT about the short game.  I've always read the suggestions to focus on short game as the path to better play with a bit of skepticism.  It seems to be an almost universally held opinion by better players.  I wonder if they haven't forgotten what it was like to spray shots short and/or wide from the tee.  Perhaps some of them have such natural talent they were never there.

I'm just entering a point where I think short game work will be my focus but up until now I've not been in that place.  For the past five years it's been absolutely imperative that I find a repeatable swing that can get me off the tee box and halfway down the hole with some consistency.  I seem to have found that last fall and my index has dropped from 19.5 to 16.2 in about three months of active season golf. 
« Last Edit: April 27, 2007, 06:59:21 AM by Uisce Beatha » Logged Return to Top

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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2007, 07:16:32 AM »

.........But I still believe that there are points during the journey from high 'capper to low 'capper where it's NOT about the short game

I agree.

I'm at the point where focusing on the short game is a must. While I need to hit more greens I'm more consistent tee to green and facing up and downs for par a lot more than up and downs for bogey. And that was due to paying more attention the past 2 years to driving and iron play.
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2007, 07:18:49 AM »

I have to agree with you. I know my biggest problem is fairways hit and GIR. I hit 3 fairways yesterday and shot 99, that's with 2 birdies and 2 pars. I also had 3 or 4 penalty shots off tee shots. Most of the missed fairways did not give me a good second shot. On one fairway hit, it was a poor shot that left me 200yds on a 311 yard hole.

When I hit a good tee shot I was ok, but when I had a shot at the green I was better. No I am not saying my short game is stupendous, my putting could be better, my chipping could get me closer, but I can manage with it for now. More fairways or just missed fairways would help more now I think. As it is I need a chainsaw.

My dad who is 65 could use help in the long game. Off the tee we helped him with a different driver and now we have some new woods, will have to see how those do. He knows he will not be long anymore so he is working on accuracy and keeping the ball in play.

In truth players need to work on what will give them the most benefit and work from there. Sort of like doing a paredo on their game and work on the worst part and move down.
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Walfredo
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2007, 08:48:55 AM »

I still think short game is the most important regardless.  Of course one needs the ability to hit the ball relatively decent.  But every golfer is going to have days when they spray the ball all over.

My last two rounds were 81 and 85.  The 81 was pretty uneventful around and on the green.  I didn't do much great but nothing too bad.  I was driving the ball amazing however.  And as usual I hit about 6 greens and had 31 putts. 

My 85 was an entirely different story.  I was in the trees the entire front nine and scrambling for par.  But I was making a lot of long putts for par and bogey.  Still had 31 putts but putting and chipping totally saved my score.  I hit 4 greens all day in 30 mph wind and could have very easily shot in the 90s. 

My long game is pretty good.  My short game is decent and has great days.  But I know I must hit more greens so I don't have to scramble so many times in a round.  During my 85 I had to 6 out of 14 up and downs.  That is great for me since I'm normally like 35%.  So for me it is working on 150 and in.  I'm a 10 index and doubled number 17 from 85 yards out hitting my second shot. 
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2007, 08:52:41 AM »

Not all 17 handicaps are the same, but when giving out generic advice it is often assumed that they are. I know several people in that range and one guy loses strokes around the greens, the other throws them away on the greens, and the third throws them away with errant tee shots and lost balls. Each of them needs a different game plan in order to shave more strokes from their game.
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2007, 09:24:30 AM »

Not all 17 handicaps are the same, but when giving out generic advice it is often assumed that they are. I know several people in that range and one guy loses strokes around the greens, the other throws them away on the greens, and the third throws them away with errant tee shots and lost balls. Each of them needs a different game plan in order to shave more strokes from their game.

i tend to mix it up (how i throw away a stroke , occasionally 2...)  hole by hole.
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2007, 10:36:16 PM »

I'm just entering a point where I think short game work will be my focus but up until now I've not been in that place.  For the past five years it's been absolutely imperative that I find a repeatable swing that can get me off the tee box and halfway down the hole with some consistency.  I seem to have found that last fall and my index has dropped from 19.5 to 16.2 in about three months of active season golf.
I agree with JDerion in that blanket statements won't work.  But I'll also admit a bias, in that I'm a somewhat long hitter, so I've been able to get away with hitting shorter clubs rather than having to take driver off most tees.  If you put me on the black tees, my score would swell disproportionately, all due to horrible tee shots with driver or the impossibility of getting a GIR after a 4-iron off the tee.

And that makes me agree with 1puttpar on course management.  Nearly every guy I saw used driver off every non-par-3 tee.  Didn't matter if the par-4 was short and driver gave him an odd approach yardage.  Didn't matter if it was a par-5 that he could NEVER reach in two.  Driver it was.  And if you don't hit fairways with your driver, that "strategy" is going to burn you.
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2007, 06:16:38 PM »

For me right now (after a one year hiatus) the 2 rounds I've shot, boil down to bad approach play (GIR) which is putting pressure on my short game. Is the short game the last to come back? I'm throwing away over 3/4 of a stroke on every hole because of bad chips around the green and bad pitches in the 50-75 yard range, which would be remedied if my iron play (4 through 7) was a lot better. With the new driver and a little confidence with it I am hitting over 50% of fairways (or within a yard or two) which is very high for me.

Your theory works for me, and I will be practicing more long and mid iron approaches first and chips and pitches second.
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Re: It's the short game stupid.
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2007, 11:08:09 AM »

"Its the tee box stupid" for me.  Almost all of my real trouble comes from wayward tee shots - my short game is ok.  Then again I was once down to an 8.5 handicap and have a short game to go with it.  Its just I lost my tee game and strokes have piled up.

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