How’s Your Short Game?
As “The Wedge Guy”, and President of a wedge making company, you all know that the short game and scoring is where I keep my mind focused most of the time. That’s because I truly believe that to help golfers score better, that’s where it’s going to happen. I’ve written that I really don’t care much for the men’s professional game anymore, and find the ladies to be much more entertaining and relevant to the way the “rest of us” play the game. Sheesh, the Accenture Match Play is being contested on a course that approaches 8,000 yards!!! And almost all the tour courses these days are 7,300-7,500 yards. That’s a full thousand yards longer than most of us play our courses.

But I digress. What I’m writing about today is the true importance of the short game to your scoring . . . regardless of your skill level. Those tour players are generally deadly when they get inside 125 yards or so. After all the bomb and gouging and spraying drives 300 yards in all directions, most of them have such refined short games that they can and will get it up and down a great percentage of the time once they finally get within “shouting distance” of the flag. Sure, they chunk one every once in a while, but most of the time, their skills are borderline magical.

At EIDOLON, we’ve been talking about what influence even a scratch golfer of reasonable length would have on your game if he played only one portion of it for you. I’m going to toss out an idea for a two experiments for any and all of you to try when you get a chance.

Experiment #1. The Effect of Better Driving.

In this one, whether you do it for nine holes or a full round (even better), the idea is to gauge the impact that a better driving game would give you. Go out for a leisurely round of golf and place the ball in Position ‘A’ off the tee on every par 4 and par 5. Give yourself a second shot from the center of the fairway, ten yards closer to the green than you normally play from with your own drives. Then play your ball all the way to the hole, and see what you shoot. Bear in mind here, however, that even the best drivers on tour only hit about 2/3 of the fairways, and those are not the longest hitters. So having a second shot from dead center and long on every hole isn’t realistic, but it will be fun to see just what you shoot from there.

Experiment #2. The Effect of A Better Short Game.

This one is to determine what impact a more precise and efficient short game could do to your scores. And you can do this after any round of golf you play. When you are through playing and have added up the scores, paid off or collected the bets and finished the “after round activities”, reflect on your round and do this little math exercise. Regardless of how many strokes it took you to get there, substitute what this performance average would have done to your actual score:
  • From 125 yards to 100 yards - 2.9 strokes
  • From 100 yards to 50 yards - 2.7 strokes
  • From 50 yards to 10 yards - 2.5 strokes
  • From 10 yards and in - 2.3 strokes
In other words, if you hit your second shot on the first hole to greenside, you’d have a 4.3 on that hole. On the second hole, a par five, you were 85 yards out after your second shot, you get a 4.7. On the third, you hit it OB off the tee, then drove it inside 125, you get a 5.9. Get it?

I’m really curious to see how you guys do on this. It will be fun to see the numbers come in. And then, imagine what such a short game would do to your handicap this year. We’re going to make it our mutual goal to get you there, OK?

thumbnail photo source
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
Banker85 says:
ya maybe when the snow is gone i might try this! wtf where are you mr Spring!?
rmumph1 says:
Not to rub it in, It's hot here, 80 today. Wedges and irons are my focus this year. I want to be above 50% GIR by the end of the year.
bkuehn1952 says:
So if I understand the system right for #2, on a hole where one's drive is at the 150 yard mark and the second shot is on the green, the score would be 4.3, correct? One counts all the strokes until the ball is inside of 125 yards and then one adds the appropriate number.

Fair enough, I will give it a try in May.
onedollarwed says:
Banker85 x2
TeT says:
doing the short game substitution: I shot a 102 Tuesday at The Wilderness in Lake Jackson... Did your math and came up with an 88.. Even if I had rounded the 10th pts up before adding the total it would have been a 95. I would have been thrilled with either one... Wow knew short game was crapola but now I really know!!
newrider says:
I practice my short game 10X as much as my full swing. I hit the ball a decent way so I always assumed my putting was my weakness. Interesting thing happened when I actually started keeping my stats. Basically even though I drive it far missed fairways was the real score killer. Not putting. I went to a shorter driver with more loft and bingo scores got better.
legitimatebeef says:
I love the short game.
jfurr says:
OK I am going to try this just as Terry described, will walk 9 two times dropping out where a good tee shot would land and play in, then walk 9 two times using the computed good player approach results. I'm curious if the penalty from having off tee shots results in the opportunity for short game errors to be magnified, or if my short game is actually really that lousy.
glenrich says:
I shot 94 my last round.
With short game subs, my score dropped to 81.6
If I rounded the scores before adding it was 86.
Either way that is plenty difference I can make with short game.

Since the short game score of 81.6 includes putting and given it is a par 70 course, that leaves 11.6 extra strokes for the 'long game'.
12.4 short
11.6 long

par 70 + 24 = 94 Strokes

So short game accounts for 12.4 strokes and long game accounts for 11.6 strokes.

I claim that I am equally bad at both short and long game!
sepfeiff says:
Experiment #2 results
-5.4 strokes on most recent round. All of them due to poor bunker shots within 10 yards. :
I do agree that the short game isn't given enough attention. Seems like some pretty ambitious expectations for amateurs at 50 - 125 yards. Beyond 50 there's a lot of nonstandard lies and situations... at least in my game there is. :)
70% up and down inside 10 (2.3)
50% up and down inside 50 (2.5)
30% up and down inside 100 (2.7)
10% up and down inside 125 (2.9)

Did I calculate that right?
sv677 says:
On your experiment # 1; In his book The Touch System for Better Golf Bob Toski has a variation of your #1 suggestion. His suggestion is to drop your ball in the fairway 10 yards behind where it left the fairway. His contention is that even playing one club more you are better off from the fairway than the rough. Therefore, hit your driver at 80% or even use a 3 wood off the tee.
Neo says:
Where do these numbers come from? 2.9, 2.3, etc.. Are these the stats of a scratch golfer, a 5, or a 10?
wedgeguy says:
Nice input, guys. My numbers might have been a little ambitious, but internally, we discussed what a really sharp short game would probalby yield for a scratch player. These numbers are certainly subject to relaxation or manipulation. The point is to see what TeT and glenrich experienced. Even if the fractions are off by 20%, both of them would have made real improvement. Let's keep this dialog up and see what we find together, OK?
jfurr says:
Walked 9 today, raw score 43 (which is a good day for me, especially lately). method #2 calc on my higher scoring holes = 37.8. Rounded up each = 39.
onedollarwed says:
This is a great way into real scoring - starting to care about the short game and see as not effette, but manly.

There was a study done to see what people thought a safe vehicle should look like. Most Americans chose the huge hulking SUV, where most non-Americans chose small agile sportscars. Turns out the small cars are much safer because they can maneuver around trouble and stop in 1/2 the distance. (I'm not going to quibble about stopping short only to be rammed from behind by a hulking SUV). However, I think most golfers get more gratification from outdriving their buddies. The "effette scorer" cards the par to snickers from his hulking companions - who striding to the off line bomb 20 yds in the clear, feeling the hole already won promptly slugs the helpless ball into some shameful location, unable to put on the brakes or steer clear of obvious disaster.

Thanks again Terry!
Kurt the Knife says:
i have a nasty case of epicondylitis been going on almost a month.
practicing short game is all I can do.
will be good to see how it affects my scores.
DoubleDingo says:
I was going to try this yesterday but I didn't because I wanted to keep the group moving along. It would have been a good day for it though, because I scored extremely bad. I hate those days when you hit some great shots and then card a horrendous score.
wrhall02 says:
This is a great excercise!
I always thought I had a "solid" short game but it was an illusion. Scores improved using WG's "system" by 4 to 5 strokes (on paper).

Thank you Terry!
TeT says:
Ran your short game numbers one more time at Woodlake today...

Shot a 94, with your math it came to an 82.5 and if I rounded up before adding it came to 86 A little better but still too many strokes lost in short game...
DaRupp13 says:
I know this thread is off the homepage, but hopefully it still gets some viewers.

I played a couple weeks ago and shot a 99. It was a short course where I foolishly hit driver off the tee leaving myself that very enjoyable 50-80 yard approach. I re-ran the numbers according to Experiment #2, my score came to 78.4. Gee, think I need to work on my short game??
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
Click here to for Terry's blogroll.
    Golf Talk
Most Popular: