Another "Either/Or" For You
Thanks for the good input, readers. It seems that you fall into two general groups, in some very unscientific way: Those who genuinely feel like they are distance-challenged, and those who don't. That makes a lot of sense to me.
In our own research with thousands of golfers who follow SCOR Golf, either as owners or fans (or both), we found that the vast majority report that they hit 6-10 approach shots — or more with lower handicap players — with an 8-iron or less to the green. That number is consistent with what Dr. Bob Rotella told me that the PGA Tour players average 10.5-to-12.5 approaches per round with an 8-iron or less.
But in my regular group, where we have players who carry handicaps from low-single digits to over 25, I see many of them play several par-4s where they cannot get home in two shots, as well as many others whose best drives leave them outside realistic GIR range. Why would anyone want to do that? How can this game be fun when the idea of a birdie putt isn't remotely realistic on most holes, no matter how good you hit your drive?
The very idea of golf (and par) is that you should be able to reach the green in two shots on a par-4, three on a par-5, and allow two putts to make par. So, if you take that possibility out of the equation on half or more of the holes, what game are you really playing?
The "powers that be" are trying to get us to "Tee It Forward" — and I think that is a stellar idea — but almost all courses have the forward tees reserved for "Over 65." Well, I'm going to be there in three years, and those tees are too short for me. But our regular white tees are too *$ long for lots of golfers who are a far cry from 65 years old.
If you are hitting hybrids and long- or mid-irons to most greens, or hitting fairway woods and still not getting there, you are simply making the game overly difficult.
I'm on a soap box here a bit this morning, so let me just get on with my question for you today:
Which is more important:
And what do we, as the golfing public, do about it?
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For the average golfer, I don't think it makes any difference what club is used on the approach. The game is to get the ball in the hole using fewer strokes than opponents. If the goal was to shoot par, then the greens should be easier; the fairways wider; and the sand traps eliminated. Make a course interesting and then allow the players to figure out how to do their best. Some short hitters have stellar chips and putts. Some long hitters hit it farther into the woods. Always having an 8 into the green takes some of the performance variability out of the game.
That's the whole point of having handicaps isn't it? If everyone could reach greens in regulation then it just becomes a putting competition.
Personally I think the USGA's Tee it Forward program works on courses where the difficulty level is hard enough that players of more average skill would definitely benefit from using tees further forward. On courses which are shorter or don't have the difficulty level that some do the benefits from teeing it forward become pointless except to older players who can no longer hit the ball as far. e.g. the course I play now has limited rough and is short but the courses I learned the game on sometimes had 200 yard carries over thick rough from the back tees. Besides I personally prefer to have to hit a variety of clubs for approach shots or the game becomes boring.
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