Why our long game is important

Why our long game is important

Joined: April 30th, 2001, 4:02 pm

February 23rd, 2010, 3:32 pm #1

There have been many questions asked on this forum about why someone would work so hard to improve their ball striking. Invariably, statements are made that there is no proof that improving your ball striking/long game will improve your scores. I have found an article written by a Columbia University mathematics professor, Mark Broadie, which provides some insight.

Traditional advice tells us that 65% of our shots come from inside of 100yds, and therefore, to lower ones score it is more important to practice the short game rather than the long game. Broadie recorded and analyzed 43,000 shots from volunteer golfers of all abilities. He discovered that if you discard putts inside of 3.5 feet, shots that almost everyone makes (i.e. gimmies for most am's) then the percentage of shots made inside of 100 yds drops below 50%.

Perhaps the evidence most in support of the importance of the long game is that high handicappers have four times as many "awful" shots per round as do low handicappers. An awful shot is defined as a shot who's result is far different from what was expected. He found that these are primarily shots involving long clubs; e.g. a topped long iron that goes 30 yds into the bushes.

Using this data he computed something he calls Fractional Remaining Length (FRL, which is the distance of a shots endpoint to the hole, divided by the initial distance to the hole, e.g. a 120yd shot lands 6 yds from the hole, the FRL = 6/120 or 5%.) As you would expect, lower handicappers have lower FRL's. You can compute your own average FRL and use his chart to determine if it would be more useful for you to improve your short or long game. Click on the multimedia graphic picture of a golf green on the second page of this article to get the chart.

From my own experience, a typical 520yd par 5 before Bertholy would go something like this. 1st shot = 240yd drive, 2nd shot = 90yd 3 wood pull hooked into the trees left, 3rd shot = punch out, 4th shot = 160yd 4iron into sand trap, out in one with a two putt for a 7.

Post Bertholy is more like this: 1st shot 270yd driver, 2nd shot 230 yd 4 wood, 3rd shot - pitch on green, two puts for a 5. Even though my short game didn't change (3 shots inside of 100 yds) I dropped two shots. This is why I've been working on my long game so much and why I think it will pay off in better scores.
Last edited by allenws on February 23rd, 2010, 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 23rd, 2010, 5:40 pm #2

I wonder how his data compares with Pelz' (though I think most of what Pelz has collected for ams is only inside 100 yards). However note that at the end he says his short game is killing him It's always something.

Peter
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Joined: October 11th, 2001, 7:22 pm

February 23rd, 2010, 8:33 pm #3

references only "shots" made to the green. I have his short game bible an the test he has for determining your "short game handicap" does not include any made with a putter o the green.

What this guy says has been true in my game. I still have the same short game, but my scores have only come down since my ball striking has improved...though I still think I could improve my short game a lot.

Often overlooked is the persons playing style. Some players hit it all over the course, and still manage to score well as they are more creative and great at recovery - think Seve or Tiger. Others are great technicians, and superb ball strikers, but lack the feel and touch of a great short game. So it is important to play to your strengths, and within the type of golfer you are, and manage your weaknesses. Too often in golf ( and in life ) people spend their time trying to make their weaknesses stronger, when there is only so far you can take it. We are better served if we play to our strengths, and get the maximum we can for our efforts.

Never quit til you have a swing you'll never forget!
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Joined: November 17th, 2001, 6:19 am

February 24th, 2010, 6:47 pm #4

There have been many questions asked on this forum about why someone would work so hard to improve their ball striking. Invariably, statements are made that there is no proof that improving your ball striking/long game will improve your scores. I have found an article written by a Columbia University mathematics professor, Mark Broadie, which provides some insight.

Traditional advice tells us that 65% of our shots come from inside of 100yds, and therefore, to lower ones score it is more important to practice the short game rather than the long game. Broadie recorded and analyzed 43,000 shots from volunteer golfers of all abilities. He discovered that if you discard putts inside of 3.5 feet, shots that almost everyone makes (i.e. gimmies for most am's) then the percentage of shots made inside of 100 yds drops below 50%.

Perhaps the evidence most in support of the importance of the long game is that high handicappers have four times as many "awful" shots per round as do low handicappers. An awful shot is defined as a shot who's result is far different from what was expected. He found that these are primarily shots involving long clubs; e.g. a topped long iron that goes 30 yds into the bushes.

Using this data he computed something he calls Fractional Remaining Length (FRL, which is the distance of a shots endpoint to the hole, divided by the initial distance to the hole, e.g. a 120yd shot lands 6 yds from the hole, the FRL = 6/120 or 5%.) As you would expect, lower handicappers have lower FRL's. You can compute your own average FRL and use his chart to determine if it would be more useful for you to improve your short or long game. Click on the multimedia graphic picture of a golf green on the second page of this article to get the chart.

From my own experience, a typical 520yd par 5 before Bertholy would go something like this. 1st shot = 240yd drive, 2nd shot = 90yd 3 wood pull hooked into the trees left, 3rd shot = punch out, 4th shot = 160yd 4iron into sand trap, out in one with a two putt for a 7.

Post Bertholy is more like this: 1st shot 270yd driver, 2nd shot 230 yd 4 wood, 3rd shot - pitch on green, two puts for a 5. Even though my short game didn't change (3 shots inside of 100 yds) I dropped two shots. This is why I've been working on my long game so much and why I think it will pay off in better scores.
Not counting the 2.5 foot putts is a bit odd in my opinion. That means to me that if you hit a putt from twenty feet to within two feet that this researcher counted it as one shot, not two. So three putts would also then count as two if the last putt was from within 2.5 feet. This is like saying that the hole is really 5 feet wide!!! That would really make golf a different game.

Pelz's has also done a lot of research and his whole concept is that if you learn to get the ball within 8 feet of the hole on long putts, chips, pitches and bunker shots that you will save a lot of shots.

I think that Pelz is pretty much on base with recommending Practice time of 30% each for Putting, (Chipping, pitching, bunker), and Full swing(half Driving, and half full irons and fairway wood swings). The other 10% is for mental game++.

Ham
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 24th, 2010, 9:40 pm #5

it to mean that once the ball was withing 2.5' that he counted it as a one putt from there (add 1 stroke) not that getting within 2.5' was the same as holing out.

What I'd not seen from Pelz was any data for amateurs for the number of shots to get within 100 yards though he had some for pros that led to the XX% of shots are short game shots. Do you know of any?

Peter
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Joined: November 17th, 2001, 6:19 am

February 24th, 2010, 10:53 pm #6

that Pelz claims that Ams need short game even more then Pros, but I will go back and look at "the bible" when I get a chance in the next day or so.

I am not sure how the researcher counted the short putts. Even if they were counted as gimmees it would be not very accurate as many people including pros miss putts of that length.

Ham
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 25th, 2010, 1:23 am #7

'Inside the leather' is still not a gurantee.

Peter
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Joined: April 30th, 2001, 4:02 pm

February 25th, 2010, 1:47 pm #8

that Pelz claims that Ams need short game even more then Pros, but I will go back and look at "the bible" when I get a chance in the next day or so.

I am not sure how the researcher counted the short putts. Even if they were counted as gimmees it would be not very accurate as many people including pros miss putts of that length.

Ham
that his point was that every putt inside of 3.5 is made, but rather that most AM's take them as gimmies. BTW, where I play, you must always take a stroke for a gimmie. Another thing to consider is that in match play most pro's are given short putts too (with a stroke.)

He wasn't saying that the short game isn't important, but perhaps overrated especially for many AM's. In fact, he gives you an index to determine which is more important for your game. I have noticed when playing with many high handicappers that their long games tend to be appreciably worse than their short games. There's nothing more frustrating than watch some 40 handicapper take 10 shots to get to the green.
" Pelz claims that Ams need short game even more then Pros
Of course he does ... he has books and videos to sell.
Last edited by allenws on February 25th, 2010, 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: June 28th, 2005, 6:35 am

February 26th, 2010, 9:02 am #9

There have been many questions asked on this forum about why someone would work so hard to improve their ball striking. Invariably, statements are made that there is no proof that improving your ball striking/long game will improve your scores. I have found an article written by a Columbia University mathematics professor, Mark Broadie, which provides some insight.

Traditional advice tells us that 65% of our shots come from inside of 100yds, and therefore, to lower ones score it is more important to practice the short game rather than the long game. Broadie recorded and analyzed 43,000 shots from volunteer golfers of all abilities. He discovered that if you discard putts inside of 3.5 feet, shots that almost everyone makes (i.e. gimmies for most am's) then the percentage of shots made inside of 100 yds drops below 50%.

Perhaps the evidence most in support of the importance of the long game is that high handicappers have four times as many "awful" shots per round as do low handicappers. An awful shot is defined as a shot who's result is far different from what was expected. He found that these are primarily shots involving long clubs; e.g. a topped long iron that goes 30 yds into the bushes.

Using this data he computed something he calls Fractional Remaining Length (FRL, which is the distance of a shots endpoint to the hole, divided by the initial distance to the hole, e.g. a 120yd shot lands 6 yds from the hole, the FRL = 6/120 or 5%.) As you would expect, lower handicappers have lower FRL's. You can compute your own average FRL and use his chart to determine if it would be more useful for you to improve your short or long game. Click on the multimedia graphic picture of a golf green on the second page of this article to get the chart.

From my own experience, a typical 520yd par 5 before Bertholy would go something like this. 1st shot = 240yd drive, 2nd shot = 90yd 3 wood pull hooked into the trees left, 3rd shot = punch out, 4th shot = 160yd 4iron into sand trap, out in one with a two putt for a 7.

Post Bertholy is more like this: 1st shot 270yd driver, 2nd shot 230 yd 4 wood, 3rd shot - pitch on green, two puts for a 5. Even though my short game didn't change (3 shots inside of 100 yds) I dropped two shots. This is why I've been working on my long game so much and why I think it will pay off in better scores.
if one look at the standard at my club, the distance in average with driver is like,
200-230yards and seldom straight.
I played with many and simply the acuracy and distance is often really off.
When you get praise for hitting it 240 yards you know something is off.
I hit my 4i longer than most hit the driver. and I am still 46 years old.

Hit it long enough from tee, you get a wedge or a short iron, and then you can downplay the power and just go accuracy golf.
I coach a 300+yards driver guy and he cant play normal courses as he hits so long.
its no challenge.
His homecourse suddenly went from a challenge to wedge game.

So I would say the numbers seems right, get a good distance off tee, then is basically easy to score low.
My weakness has been distance from tee and accuracy to hit gir.
For me, that is obviously related.

but this year, it be a different ballgame :D


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Joined: November 17th, 2001, 6:19 am

February 26th, 2010, 10:51 am #10

it to mean that once the ball was withing 2.5' that he counted it as a one putt from there (add 1 stroke) not that getting within 2.5' was the same as holing out.

What I'd not seen from Pelz was any data for amateurs for the number of shots to get within 100 yards though he had some for pros that led to the XX% of shots are short game shots. Do you know of any?

Peter
Pelz says in the short game bible page 3 that he studied thousands of golfers , at all skill levels. He says that nearly everbody makes the putts inside of two feet, but if you move farther away from there they start to miss stating that "even tour players make only 85% to 95% of their threefooters, at five feet they hole about 65% while amateurs, if they're lucky, are making about 50% plus or minus 5%" Then he says "from ten feet, no one consistently holes beter then 25%". He goes on to say that you best chance of making a putt is if it's inside of ten feet, which is where the short game comes into play.

Then on page 4 he states "(Don't get too hung up on the pros. My data, which I'll refer to over and over in this book, has been collected from players of all skill levels, not just Tour players but also middle and high handicappers, even beginners.)"

He also states that that full swing is of course still important, and that the Tee shot is one of the most important shots in the game.

Best regards,
Ham

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