Where Do You Score?
What do you think is the key area to your scoring? Recent PGA Tour stats are showing that "greens in regulation" is very critical - maybe the most critical - factor in winning and placing high in PGA Tour events. I would find that hard to criticize.

To that end, we have been doing quite a bit of research into PGA Tour statistics and have found that proximity to the hole after the approach shot seems to be another factor that might not be given enough attention by either tour professionals or recreational players. What's interesting is how even the field is in skills and results at the longer-range approach shots, and how the separation from "best" and "others" increases the closer they get to the green.

For example, on approach shots over 200 yards – which also includes hitting at par-5 greens on the second shots – only from the fairway, we see that the best player on tour in 2012 averaged over 41 feet on this approach shots. The number 175 player was under 55 feet. Given that the best putter on tour at this distance makes only one percent of putts over 35 feet, there is really no distinct advantage to being the best, is there?

As we examined approach shot performance at ranges between 150-200 yards, what was interesting is that the difference between best and #175 actually decreased. In this area (6-iron to 8-iron range) there is an even smaller difference in performance stats between the best player and the #175 guy. In other words, these guys are all pretty darn good and not much different when they have a full-swing 8-iron or longer in their hands.

But what was revealing is what happens in those brackets under 150 yards, when these guys put 9-iron or less in their hands. That's when the best begin to pull away from the pack. What I zero in on is that these guys are hitting it so long now, that they simply don't have enough tools in the tool box to properly navigate all those various distances they find themselves inside 9-iron range.
I pay close attention to the "What's in The Bag" reports in the major magazines, and as distances have increased, the tour professionals (like all of us) are losing scoring clubs. So they are having to navigate 20-25 yard gaps in between their scoring clubs, when they have gaps of only 10-12 yards at the long end of their sets.

So, here's my question: If the best player in the world averages over 40 feet from the hole on approach shots outside 200 yards, why does he need 4-5 clubs spaced only 30-40 feet apart? Those guys know how to grip down on a club to cut the gap in half, so that means they have ± 15- to 18-foot equipment accuracy at the long end of their sets, where they only have 40-45 feet at talent accuracy. That comes at the expense of having 10-12 feet equipment accuracy at the short end, where they have very good talent accuracy.

(Tour research shows that tour players miss long shots left/right, and shorter shots short/long.)

That's the kind of stuff that makes me go "hmmmmmm."
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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