Power vs. Precision
In my 61 years of golf life (I don't remember life before golf!), I've watched the game make a very big swing from one of precision to one of power. Back in the "old days" of the 50s and 60s, there were always a few guys that could just kill it -- George Bayer comes to mind, Palmer was aggressively long, and Nicklaus was noted for his power and length when he came on the scene. But the game was defined for some time by the acute precision exhibited by Nelson and Hogan, both of whom hit greens with uncanny regularity.

Nelson was so precise, the industry's swing robot was named after him – "Iron Byron" is still the standard in club and ball testing. And Hogan literally defined shotmaking for the modern era. The fairway was found almost all the time, and it was not unusual at all for him to hit all 18 greens in regulation, and less than 15-16 would have been a substandard round.

In contrast, for the 2013 PGA Tour season, the tour leader in GIR percentage is Henrik Stenson at 71.96%, and less than 45 guys out there average more than 12 per round. I find that absolutely amazing.

Off the tee, accuracy is even more "shunned" as less than 25 PGA Tour professionals play from the fairway more than 2/3 of the time. And the tour leader plays his approach shots from the rough more than 1/4 of the time.

But the talk is all about how GIR percentage is becoming the more accurate indicator of the probability of a high finish in any given tournament. So, that seems like a disconnect to me, unless the roughs are so non-punishing and the greens so soft that being in the fairway doesn't represent an advantage. I just don't know.

What I do know is for all of us recreational golfers, accuracy is more a determinant of your scoring than distance. This game is just easier when you hit your approach shots from the short grass, and your next shot is a putt rather than a chip, pitch, bunker shot or worse. Yes, you will have the occasional three-putt -– we all do. But your odds of getting in the hole in two putts is a lot better than getting up and down from who-knows-where.

So, I have a few questions for you all to chime in on:
  1. Would you rather hit your driver 10 yards longer, or improve your GIR % by 2-3 greens a round?

  2. Is there an advantage to hitting your irons longer, even if you have to make the shaft longer and reduce the loft to do that?

  3. Would you trade 10-15 yards in distance for improved accuracy with all your clubs -– driver to wedges?

  4. What would happen to your handicap if you dramatically reduced the number of double bogeys you make?
Let's have some fun with this and share our thoughts. We'll look at the dialog for a week and continue the conversation next Friday.
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 ]
parman68166 says:
I once played a match against a 73 yr old who "piped-it" down the sprinkler lined every shot, not long but accurate. He beat me like a cheap drum! It taught me that accuracy is far more important than length. I like the short grass!
Cit.Col says:
1. GIR all day long.
2. Not if longer doesn't mean straighter.
3. Absolutely.
4. The doubles are where a round can come apart. Lacking accuracy is the culprit and delusions on distance is the false hope.
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