17 Feet Closer Beats 17 Yards Longer
I’m writing this morning from Sacramento, CA, where we are showing SCOR4161 at the renowned Expo at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex. This is the biggest Demo Day (rather 3 days) in the world, and if any of you are attending, please come by and say “Hi”. I’ll be on the main stage today at 2:00 with a program I call Short Game Boot Camp.

Demo days are a strange experience for us, as most people are roaming up and down the line, hitting every driver and fairway wood they can, swinging from their heels and seeing if they can find something magical. Truth is, they probably won’t. Unless you haven’t bought a driver in five years or so, or just have one that isn’t right for you, the technology is so against the wall that you probably won’t find that new driver that really makes a difference. But that bomb it mentality seems to get in the way of thinking short and testing wedges. We’ll do our best to change that, of course.

The point is that recent tour statistics indicate that you just might be looking in the wrong place if what you are after is lower scores. Which is more satisfying – big drives but a score that stinks, or fairways, greens and consistently lower scores? If it’s the latter, here are a couple of recent insights into the PGA Tour this year that might be interesting to you.
  1. BOMB & GOUGE.Ben Curtis was the seventh winner in 2012 to finish below 50th in driving distance on the week in which he won. He was 74th (269.1 yards) among the 76 who made the 54 hole cut (since more than 78 players made the 36-hole cut, a second cut was made after 54 to reduce the field to low 70 and ties for Sunday). Nearly 40% of this year’s winners have been in the shorter hitter crowd. Others were Luke Donald (264.1/75th at the Transitions), Bill Hass (279.8/66th at the Northern Trust), Phil Mickelson (272.8/58th at the AT&T), Kyle Stanley (287.6/70th at Phoenix), Johnson Wagner (276.4/68th at the Sony Open) and Mark Wilson (279.3/69th at the Humana Challenge). Something to think about, huh?

  2. The Importance of Sticking It Closer. Luke Donald grabbed the top spot in the World Ranking, but has had a hard time holding on to it this year. Is that Rory’s remarkable play or his own decline? Donald ranks 178th in driving distance, but . . . a year ago, Luke Donald ranked second on TOUR for approach shots inside 125 yards, averaging 15 feet 4 inches and converting birdie or better a TOUR leading 34% of the time from this distance. However, this season, Donald currently ranks 155th on TOUR for approach shots inside 125 yards averaging 21 feet 9 inches converting birdie or better 23% of the time (89th on TOUR) from this distance.
The point of my story today is that all of us have physical limitations when it comes to driving the ball. You won’t ever approach the 300+ yard average of the bombers like Bubba Watson. But you can work on the shorter end of the game and be darned formidable as an opponent. Luke has proven that.

Think about it as you roam the range at the next demo day you attend.
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 ]
jrbizzle says:
Driving distance stats can be misleading - especially this early in the year - because the PGA doesn't measure every hole they use driver, they measure a few select holes, and the pro might hit a 3 wood or even long iron depending on how they like to play said hole.

I highly doubt anyone would say Mickelson is a short hitter. Kyle Stanely is currently 7th in driving distance, he just shortened things down a bit that week. Comparing pros to amateurs is a bad idea anyway.

I know your specialty is wedges, but I don't understand the need to make it sound like the tee shot is not important. The truth is, the hardest clubs for most amateurs to hit are the long irons, so it is very important for many of us to hit good tee shots, in order to get the short irons in our hands for approach shots. Then we can get more GIRS and more chances for low scores. And if/when we miss the green, that is when wedge play is also tremendously important.
4/27/12
 
larrynjr says:
Being on the fairway to make your next shot, to the green or just to advance the ball on par 5's, is HUGE! I just shot my best ever 9 hole round with a 38 on par 36. Much of it I attribute to hitting more fairways then usual. I found a tip in one of the golf magazines that has greatly reduced / eliminated my slice so I feel much more confident stepping up to the tee. I'm certainly not concerned about driving it 300 yds off the tee, anything past 200 and on the fairway is what I'm looking for. I spent a lot of time working my wedges and knowing my distances over the winter and it is starting to pay off! Now to get my head under control when playing with other golfers.....Men's league starts Tuesday night!
4/27/12
 
jrbizzle says:
So really, we need to have an overall game, especially putting once we get on the short grass. But I think the most important factor for every amateur golfer is course management and game management. Be honest, and know where your faults lie. I know my 4 wood is more accurate than my driver. So on any hole less than 350 yards, I gear down, because a well struck 4 wood still gets me a 7 iron down to a wedge from the fairway. But if the hole is 375 - 400, I'm not going to hit 4 wood and depend on a 4 iron shot from the fairway, I'd rather have an 8 iron from the rough.

Likewise, I don't hit driver on par 5s, because I can't get there in two shots anyway. 4 wood, medium iron and try to get a GIR with my wedge.

I think your new wedges look great, and would be an amazing help for most golfers. When my current wedges (U grooves) wear out, I'd gladly get them myself. But I also think anyone who can get 10-20 more yards from a new driver or fairway wood that is identical in accuracy is a great idea.
4/27/12
 
Backquak says:
Yeah I think we all want to be hitting a wedge into every green which is why we want to hit the drive as far as possible. That's how the pros do it, and I'm pretty sure most of us would like to have a 269 driving average. I played from the forward tees with my son last week using only my PW and SW to play in his zone and when you have to chop up a par 4 into 3 shots instead of 2, scoring really is more difficult. Getting up and down becomes very important to save par but it also almost always takes birdie out of the equation. Hitting to a yardage that you can then put the ball on the green in regulation is so important to scoring those low numbers. All parts of the game have to be played well to score.
4/27/12
 
larrynjr says:
I've been killing my 6i lately consistantly hitting it 175 yds and fairly accurately too, so it's currently my favorite club. I even tried using it to tee off on some par 5's. I was able to hit 6i tee, 6i to 130-140 yds, then 8 iron to green. I think i'll get to play tomorrow so we'll see if my great scoring was a super good luck day or if I actually have it going on.
4/27/12
 
onedollarwed says:
I'm not the average golfer; I hit the driver long and accurately. It's taken 25 years to get to this point - longer than some of the young guns have been alive, heh. But it hasn't always been this way. The truth is though, clubbing down never helped me. And with average to beginner golfers, I think the loss of distance is from mishits. The driver's huge and forgiving clubface improves the odds. Terry has been consistently helpful in preaching SHORTER SHAFT/ GRIP DOWN. If I'd know about this when I was starting It would have helped a ton. I do think however, that as players develop, the heightened interest in the short game and scoring comes when they're getting regular chances at par and birdie. Lining up a 20-footer for triple isn't so exciting.
So for me, big hits get me closer, improve my scoring. If we're not in a competition, then we can afford to keep hitting the driver when it goes awry for a few holes. But more importantly, what kind of stats are we looking for from the driver?
4/28/12
 
onedollarwed says:
Most people remember the huge drive which led to the one birdie opportunity of their $50 round. They remember that dude who was smoking the driver all day long and settling for pars. Hitting an 8-iron or wedge to the center of a large green, lagging, and making a 3-footer for par doesn't look as exciting as a power draw which disappears from sight gulping up yards by the dozens and rolling forever toward the hole, but it can be more nerve wracking, and requires 3 consecutive controlled shots. For the average golfer the odds quickly diminish trying to do that. I got 4 Eidolon/Scor wedges when my Vokeys wore out, and got them with matched and blended shafts, lofts, and lengths. I haven't looked back and am chipping, punching, pitching my way to glory! Still driving for show though!
4/28/12
 
lewisgl says:
Driving the ball is a very important part of the game undoubtedly, but probably too often people spend too much time practicing with the driver, and not enough time in the short game practice area and the putting green, where a much larger percentage of the scoring game is.
4/28/12
 
Ianinho says:
A really bad drive cost 2 shots, a really bad chip costs 1 shot max, just saying...
4/28/12
 
drjebj says:
I am still using Terry's old Eidolon wedges and have discovered a very important issue that has taken my handicap down about 5 strokes: I found that the inconsistency of my grip pressure was making my shots go all over the place. This was true all through the bag from putter to driver. I would grip lightly at address then take the club back and variably squeeze the club on the way down. Try holding your driver with your normal grip at address and then squeeze it. You will see what I mean as the face closes 2 or 3 degrees. Changing grip pressure will make your putts go awry every time.
4/28/12
 
larrynjr says:
The short game made the difference for me this weekend. I had 3 birdies, one was a pitch in birdie from 30 yds plus I had a chip in par from 15 yds. My final birdie was 30 yds to 8' from the pin and putt for birdie! I'm really enjoying this feeling of playing good golf!
4/30/12
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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