Making Sense Out of 7600 Yards...I think
You readers know that I'm not bashful about expressing my belief that the relentless quest for distance is not helping golf, or golfers. I offer as proof a few things:
  1. All of us are hitting drives 20-30 yards further, at least, than we did 25-30 years ago, yet handicaps have not come down at all.

  2. Watching the younger golfers - they all try to hit it so hard that most never learn how to hit it solid, straight and with distance control. As a result, most never become serious about the game because it's just not that much fun to be looking for your ball all the time while shooting 90+.

  3. How can the average golfer relate to the tour pro, whom the announcers just said hit his drive 335 and has a 7-iron in his hands for the remaining 195 yards to the flag?
And that brings me to my point of today's post. How do we "reconcile" the game we play with what we watch on television each week. This week's PGA Championship is listing The Ocean Course at something over 7,600 yards, but I read that it can be stretched to 7,900!! Wow, how can that be anything like the courses we all play on a daily basis? Follow me here with my attempt to try to reconcile the tour game to our games and chime in with your thoughts and comments, questions and observations.

Let's start with that notion of a 7,600 yard course the tour player is on this week, and compare what his round might look like, compared to the rounds we all will play this weekend on courses more in the 6,600-6,800 yard range . . . about where most regular tees will be on typical courses.

So, the tour player is averaging about 290 off the tee, with most of us more like 240-250 or less. So that gives him an advantage of about 45 yards per driving hole. Let's assume there are 13 of those, so that's 650 yards, right? Now "his" 7,600 yard course is playing like one just under 7,000 for us.

Now, if you believe what you hear on TV, the typical tour pro is hitting his 6-iron about 190, whereas most of us are hitting ours more in the 150 range. So, there's another 40 yards per approach shot that he is "shortening" the course. And that applies to all 18 holes, effectively "shortening" the tour players' courses by another 720 yards.

And we know that there are only a few par 5 holes on tour courses that these guys cannot reach in two shots, whereas the average golfer of reasonable skill probably won't see any of those. So, they effectively turn the four par fives each week into the equivalent of those handful of long par fours we have to approach with a fairway metal or hybrid, possibly a long iron. That's got to be worth at least 3-4 shots, right?

So, if my math has any validity, the tour level course at 7,600 yards is roughly equivalent to our courses at something around 6,200-6,300, with the tour pro having a 3-4 stroke advantage because of the reachable par-fives.

What do you all think of that comparison?
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[ comments ]
ally1957 says:
How else do you make it comparable with a mid handicap player other than to make it longer. An alternative would be to make the greens smaller but that would make them smaller for everybody.
The corse I play not very well I might add. has professional tees and adds 1000 yards to the yardage but the extra yardage also bring into play hazards that aren't there on the every day tees where the ones you see on the TV just seem to extend the every day tees with no penalty other than left or right.
I heard a caddie after our regional professional competition he didn't have a club in his bag to hit a 109 yard par 3 on our executive course yet he can drive it 275 yards. perhaps terry should sell him some more wedges.
parman68166 says:
Is pristine course preparation factored into your calculations? If not, it should be. "Firm and fast" conditions definitely add to their already shortened courses.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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