The "Texas WedgeHog" -Rooting Out The Truth
OK, I have to give you guys some background before I get into this new aspect of The Wedge Guy that I am testing today. As I mentioned Tuesday, my EIDOLON partner, Ralph Thompson, and I spent the past weekend together, and as always, scattered around the business conversations there was plenty of golf and time spent just exploring. We were sitting in a little joint, enjoying a burger and beer and he asked why I didn’t sound off on this blog like I do when he and I are together.
Over the 15 years we’ve known each other, he’s learned that I am not too bashful about being rather free with my opinions on things that bug me. So, we began laughing about these feral hogs that cover our countryside down here, rooting up the soil for anything that is good to eat and generally causing havoc. So the “Texas WedgeHog – Rooting Out The Truth” was born at the Texas 46 roadhouse on Saturday, 2/28/2009. If you like the idea of me sounding off on things that bug me about golf, toss me some topics and chime in with your own opinions, OK?
Here’s the first one.
“Birdie Holes” and Other MythsI am an ardent observer of self-destructive things I see golfers do and hear golfers say, but one that really gets me is when I hear someone say, “This is a birdie hole”.
Really? How do you know when you haven’t even hit your drive yet, much less your approach? And you’re a 12 handicap so there’s only 5-6 “par” holes out here; how can you think this one is a “birdie hole”?
This game is tough, and making birdies is the toughest achievement out there. Think about that for a minute. You could be a scratch golfer and never make one! If you are an 8 handicap, that means you average about 82 or so, which equates to 8 pars and 10 bogies in a round – what are you doing thinking about making a birdie at all, much less while on the tee??
If you are a 10 handicap or higher, your singular thought on the tee should be to not make a double or higher. Chances are you don’t hit the driver like Tiger Woods (300+) or Fred Funk (85% of fairways), but I suggest Fred is a much better role model for you. If you track your rounds here, I’d bet you would find a high relativity of drives out of the fairway and doubles made.
[oobgolf stat note- We don't mess with Terry's collumns but he did make a claim that we thought we'd try to verify. Interestingly enough, his example doesn't hold up to stats but his point does, he should've just made it with pars or birdies instead of doubles. These graphs show final score on a hole relative to par and the MISSED fairway percentage.]
Assuming you got off the tee well, when you face your approach shot, look for the side of the green that gives you the best chance of getting up and down and the least odds of leaving a short-side difficult pitch. Here’s an interesting drill for you if you find yourself out for a day of learning on the golf course. On each hole, after your drive and approach, play a second ball from the “safe” side of the green. Assume you missed your approach to this safe side and hit a pitch or chip and putt it out. Keep that score on along with the score you actually made and see how you come out.
On every hole, no matter where your “real” approach finished, play out both balls. On this second ball, never put it on the green, but assume you missed the approach wide on the safe side and play it out. And let us all know what happens in this comparison, OK?
I’ve played to a low handicap my whole life, and am an entrepreneur with a gambler personality. But on the golf course I want to have fun, and find that trying to save pars from the short side really doesn’t deliver that. If I’m tuned in to my game, I play the safe side of fairways off the tee and thee safe side of the hole with my approaches. I make my share of birdies, and keep big numbers and bogies on short holes to a minimum by taking this approach.
Of course, I find a 73 or 74 with only one or two birdies more fun than a 78 with 3 or 4. You might not.
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Tim Horan says:
Some of my very best rounds have been made in the frost where any attempt to hit the green from under 50ft would result in a lottery. On these occasions I have played for the humps and bumps around the green to hold up the approach on the safe side and then gently chip or putt onto the green. I will admit that it doesn't do much for the ego missing from say 100 - 150yds but with the right mindset you get round in acceptable dare I say respectable scores.
Damn!!! Now you got me re-thinking my whole strategy!
The golf gods do not like to hear "birdie hole".
When I was a junior I was told, "It's not the good shots you hit, it's the bad ones you don't". It took me several years to understand this but it is very true. As an example I was playing today with a 20 handicapper...he was 50 yards short playing his third shot into a par 4. He went on a line straight at the pin, was a little short and bunkered himself. Several hacks later 9 was recorded. The easy shot that would have avoided all trouble was to play away from the flag to front right, nothing much to go wrong, two putts...and a 5!
If you have played for a while you can't all of a sudden miraculously improve your driving, putting or wedge play (well unless you switch to Eidolon) but you can make a really huge difference to your scoring by recognsing your limitations and learning to make good tactical decisions when playing. We will all hit bad shots...we just need to make sure that they are not really destructive.
This column opened my eyes a bit. I looked back on the rounds I've posted and found this to be a huge factor for me on par 4s I play. My average score on a par 4 when I hit the fairway is 4.9. My average score when I miss a fairway on a par 4 is 5.9. That's a full stroke! On par 5s it didn't make as big of a difference, but that's likely due to the 3rd shot (the one for a GIR) being the most important. I might try to mix up my strategy a bit and only pull out the driver on the par 5s and try a hybrid or mid iron on the par 4s. We'll see what happens.
IGÇÖve played to a low handicap my whole life, and am an entrepreneur with a gambler personality.
Sounds like a guy I would enjoy playing and gambling with. Where do you play?
Jake Bogardus says:
Usually love this column, but I completely disagree with the idea that you can't think a hole is a birdie hole. While I agree that a lot of the time you want to play the smart shots there are definitely holes out there that I consider birdie holes. There are holes that just fit peoples games and those can be considered birdie holes. To me the key is not to walk on a brand new golf course look at the score card see 335 yard par 4 and say that its a birdie hole. But, if you have played a hole many times, and it fits your eye and shot shape and is overall comfortable for you there is no reason not to consider some holes birdie holes
Thinking birdie hole on the tee is the kiss of death, thinking about it after your tee shot is fully acceptable, stroke hole 1 or 18 be damned. There's backing yourself from the fairway and dreaming, there's a difference people.
With approach shots as well as considering the safe side of the green to play for I think most players would benefit from making sure they take enough club to comfortably get there. Most of the trouble / bunkers tend to be front / front half of the green. Most mid to high handicap players tend to be repeatedly short...so the trouble often comes into play for them. Take plenty of club and you generally will clear the trouble too!
This culoum make no sense! some holes, like short par 5's are birdie holes.
I makes sense to me. Lots of times I hear someone, mid hcp very happy 'cause birdied two holes...When three putts don-¦t affect as much. "I was distracted... doesn-¦t count really...." three greens at three putts means a lot more than the birdies. Also the importance of short approach to save your par.
Jake Bogardus says:
The article is an attempt basically at explaining how important course management is, but while this is true, there are such things as birdie holes especially for low handicaps. The funny thing is that the data that the author thought would prove his point did quite the opposite.
Tim Horan says:
I think the whole point is...if you are thinking birdie this hole, you are not thinking about the shot you are about to play. You ain't gonna hit the fairway every time if you are not focused on the shot at hand. You have to be very lucky to get a birdie from the short side. Birdie opportunities present only when the groundwork is laid.
My point was that thinking "birdie hole" on the tee might not be a productive thought, as you haven't even hit your tee shot yet. Let me add a personal experiment. Our 13th is a par five, playing downwind usually, and a good drive can leave you a 4-wood or hybrid to the green, which has tough undulations and protected pretty well by bunkers, mounds and trees. But the key is that the fairway is very, very narrow at that range off the teem and missing it gives you a very tough shot to even get back in play. So, I changed my strategy on that hole this past fall, and played 4-wood off the tee, to where the fairway is very wide, then a 5-iron to about 90 yards, short of the fairway bunker. That leaves me a very manageable sand wedge in. So, in that test period, I made "0" doubles, only a couple of bogeys, and as many or more birdies than I made playing it aggressively.
I always think that one hole on my home course is a birdie hole, 2 birdies in 31 attempts.
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