Importance of Controlled Power
I saw an interesting video clip yesterday where Greg Norman was describing the best driving tip he ever had. Very early in his golf career, before he even turned professional, he said his instructor told him to learn to hit the driver as hard as he could. As he explained, once he learned to hit it as hard as he could, he then learned how much he could back off of that to get great control.

He further explained that because he learned to hit it very hard early, his "backed-off 85% swing produced bigger drives than many of his competitors did with their full power swings, but his advantage was that he was much straighter because he was really backing off of his full power. A look at old PGA Tour statistics will reveal that Greg Norman in his prime was one of the best overall drivers of the ball in golf.

Hmmmmmmm. Power + accuracy. Pretty awesome combination off the tee, huh?

The lesson here is the same as I preach when I reference Ben Hogan's Power Golf, published in 1949. In the chapter on equipment, Hogan lists his "Regular", "Maximum" and "Minimum" distance with each club in his bag, from drive on down to sand wedge. What is interesting is that through all his irons, his "maximum" is 25 yards longer than his "regular" distance. So Hogan discovered that to optimize his accuracy with his irons, he should hit them much softer, more controlled, than his full power swing. But he had those yards in reserve if he needed them.

Is that the way you play your irons? If you don't hit 14+ greens a round in regulations, maybe you should.

What I see most often in amateur golf is that we all go at it too hard. And we hit it all over the lot as a result. Swinging harder than the controlled power that Norman was explaining, and that Hogan was illustrating, can only result in inconsistent contact and missed fairways and greens.

The next time you play, throttle back on your driver swings and think accuracy, rather than distance. See what happens. Then on your approach shots, take at least one club longer than you normally would — maybe even two — and put a relaxed controlled swing on it. I think you'll be amazed that you don't lose that much distance, actually, but your accuracy and distance control improve exponentially.

Let's all go out and play this way this weekend and chime in here with our results.
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[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
14+ GIR is 78%. A number that no one on the PGA, LPGA or Web.com tours matches or betters. Only Tom Lehman of the Champions Tour meets the standard.
10/12/12
 
coojofresh says:
yeah that's an insane percentage, but i get the point.
10/12/12
 
GBogey says:
It's going to be cold enough in NJ this weekend that leaving some in reserve will be quite easy.
10/12/12
 
Gromit5 says:
I mentioned Power Golf and Hogan's list of distances in your column from 9/4, suggesting that readers consult the chart. You have the eagle eye, Terry, so did you file that away for today, or is this just "coincedence?"
10/12/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
@Gromit5 - TWG mentioned Hogan's chart some time ago

www.oobgolf.com/content/the+wedge+guy/golf+instr
10/12/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
Keep bangin that drum Scorsman. You've said it lots before but its such an important message. For me 2012 will probably be remembered as the year I finally started to swing for accuracy and not for distance. Confession: If I have around 150y in, I'm more likely these days to turn to the 7 and not the 8. So what! I know in my heart of hearts, if I really wanted to push that 8i past 150 I could. I just don't want to. Screw you.
10/12/12
 
onedollarwed says:
Hogan mentioned it a long time ago too, heh. It will be 31deg here tonight, but I see 9 holes looming this weekend.
Power and Control is a killer combination that I've been working on for a long time with what I feel are good results. Haven't lost a ball in the last 10 rounds, and it's extremely rare that my tee shot is not playable.

As far as fairway/green deliniations, I don't feel that GIR is that good at predicting score. Control has to be combined with smarts. You could very easily up your GIR and end up in more bunkers trying. The rough can be your friend both off the tee and on approaches. Control happens with the emotions and learning when not to go for it. This means playing away from trouble and favoring a side of the fairway or green. If one side favors your draw, and can be played into a bank, who cares if you roll into the fringe a bit.
I think many of these stats for us are a factor of the course we play - some course have a good deal of OB, bunkers, or water/ marshes.
10/12/12
 
onedollarwed says:
Otherwise, right on Terry. I've begrudgingly learned to back off the throttle. I enjoy shaping the tee shots more now; it can get you closer as well! Also, many holes don't give you squat in exchange for extra distance.
10/12/12
 
GBogey says:
For me it is not as much a throttle back the club I use but to try to have a smooth swing. A good rhythm swing usually travels the same distance as a fast swing but is less likely to pull or slice.
10/12/12
 
Gromit5 says:
Thanks bk1952. I'm a latecomer. Heartfelt apologies...
10/12/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
@gromit5: apology accepted on behalf of TWG. I have standing in that dialogue. Just a spectator.

@onedollarwed: "I don't feel that GIR is that good at predicting score". Some might disagree with your assessment. Some time ago we at oob discussed some research that indicated GIR was a very good indicator for ultimate score and/or handicap. Apparently Jim Flick agrees. www.golfdigest.com/golf-instruction/2012-10/jim-

I am by no means a statistician. I do know that, for me, when I hit 10 greens or more in regulation, a better than average score results. The correlation is about +90% for me. No other stat that I track comes close. Again, that is solelt for my game. Others with a much better short game may disagree.
10/12/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
Correction: I have NO standing in that dialogue
10/13/12
 
DougE says:
Though my short game is actually pretty good, I'd still rather have more GIRs than attempts at up & downs. And when I do have a good percentage of GIRs in a round, inevitably, my score is lower than average. GIR is the stat I want to improve on more than any other.
10/13/12
 
onedollarwed says:
@bkuehn1952 Once again we run into a semantic/mathematical enigma. And you weren't really understanding what I was saying. First, in a given single round, GIR doesn't really mean much in terms of your score - on average (with a large sample size) it probably will. What I"M SAYING IS THIS: Knowing that GIR is good should not make you push to land a ball on the green from your lie just to boost your GIR. You shouldn't go for a green from 220 with bunkers because of general stats about GIR. Same with hitting a fairway just to hit it. It's like saying more strikeouts are better. Yes, but you can win without them. And this is where I've learned to dial it back to help my score - what this article is about.
10/14/12
 
windowsurfer says:
Per TWG request for throttle-back reports: played Sat on my old course. Often hit 14 drivers from tee there, but in an effort to go for accuracy over distance, hit six drivers, where i went 4 for 6 (fairways or satisfactory placement/no probs) Hit my SMT 19* hybrid on seven tees - about 220. Went 7 for 7 with it. These greens are tiny and I only hit TWO in reg, but was in good position and made five up+downs, mostly by being close to the hole (not long putts.) Verdict? Not entirely conclusive, though I believe the hybrid certainly did not hurt me and it DID bug the heck out of playing partners, who hit driver every time. If I wouldn't have bogeyed three of four par 3's it could have been a sub-80 round, which would be pretty good for me.
10/14/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
The next time you play, throttle back on your driver swings and think accuracy, rather than distance. Then on your approach shots, take at least one club longer than you normally would and put a relaxed controlled swing on it.

Let's all go out and play this way this weekend and chime in here with our results.

I tend to play a controlled game as standard but Saturday I made sure I always had enough club to reach the center of the green. I did not really hit that many more GIR's than average. My misses tended to be very playable. Overall result was better than average by a couple strokes. At times I find it very hard to not select the lesser club and hit it a bit harder because that seems to be the smart play. The fact that hitting it hard does occasionally work make it even harder to avoid the temptation.
10/15/12
 
jfurr says:
@bkuehn1952: yesterday I hit a very poor drive on #13 - pull hooked into woods, punched out sideways. I felt the swing was out of sync because I over swung too hard. Next hole #14, I choked down a bit on the club, took a smoother swing, finished in balance, and hit a nice straight draw down the fw. Wish I could remember to do that more often.
10/15/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
@jfurr - I hear you. If I were honest with myself, the contest between the "hard" wedge versus a smooth 9 or the full driver against the controlled 3-wood is not even close. Fortunately, I can occasionally control myself.

It feels really good to hit a shot hard , look up and see the ball tracking at its target. Not so good when looking up after overswinging to see the ball boring into the forest on the left.
10/15/12
 
windowsurfer says:
gbogey sez: "A good rhythm swing usually travels the same distance as a fast swing but is less likely to pull or slice." That's right. I always notice in scrambles when I swing for the fences, that one undisciplined, wild swing wrecks my tempo for the next two or three tee shots, or worse.
10/15/12
 
onedollarwed says:
All said, great scoring can only happen when you're getting inside of 10ft regularly. And so to do that we need a shot that from a standard lie and any intervening obstacles can get right in there. We probably luck into that on occasion, but from what distance are we really getting the ball right into that hot zone? 40 or 50 ft?
10/15/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
"but from what distance are we really getting the ball right into that hot zone? 40 or 50 ft?"

I don't follow this idea. You mean most golfers are no more than 40 to 50 feet from the hole before they can reliably get their next shot inside 10 feet? What is your definition of reliably? +90%?
10/15/12
 
onedollarwed says:
OK, from what distance are you getting to one-putt distance? In other words, how far away is the shot you hit before you sink it on average; putt, chip, pitch, iron, or drive?
I remember last month I think when Terry asked readers to put forth their expectations of wedges and irons. I think most people had nearly unreal expectations, like the 14+GIR.
Now the "hot zone" may be expanded to an area where you're really getting decent percentage run at the hole, larger for different people/greens. So say that is expressed as from what distance are you hitting it close enough to sink 2/3 of those shots?
10/18/12
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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