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Has Anyone Played All 18 Aiming for the Center of the Green?


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After making a "humorous" post earlier in this thread, here's a more serious one. 

 

Even as a high single digit handicapper, I do not find that my game is precise enough or consistent enough to:

1. Aim constantly for the middle of the green.

2. Be strategic at aiming away from trouble. 

 

I guess I need to practice more. 

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True story. Playing one day with the wife. Get to the tenth hole and the flagstick is laying on the back of the green so we have no idea where the hole is. I tell the wife to just aim for the middle o

I apologized if this was mentioned already.   Mike Small is a great player and among the best college coaches in the country.   He has his players play the course without pins to s

I am not familiar with DECADE but have inferred from seeing it mentioned in contexts here on the forums that it is a course management "system" or mind-set.  In Lowest Score Wins the authors examine t

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Considering the vast majority of golfers 1) don't know their actual yardages 2) don't have a stock shot shape 3) aren't consistent enough even if they know 1 and 2 that yes, 100% it's a really good starting point to aim for the middle of the green. 

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1 hour ago, North Texas said:

After making a "humorous" post earlier in this thread, here's a more serious one. 

 

Even as a high single digit handicapper, I do not find that my game is precise enough or consistent enough to:

1. Aim constantly for the middle of the green.

2. Be strategic at aiming away from trouble. 

 

I guess I need to practice more. 

 

Really? Do you have a stock shot shape? If you typically draw or fade the ball, you would be wise to really think about your target area on the green. Even if you have a relatively straight stock shot, most be have a certain miss that you would want to steer away from.

 

For example, par 3 145 yards, pin is in the back right and your shot shape is a draw. There's a tree on the right and obviously a greenside bunker on the right. If you were to try to land directly on the flag you are aiming right of the target and bringing the ball back across some danger to a small portion of the green. The safer shot (purple) is to make your start line right at the left edge of the bunker and draw the ball back into the heart of the green. If you happen to hit a dead straight ball, you'll love your shot, if it draws left as expected than you have an outside shot at birdie, but should claim an easy 2 putt par. Likewise, if you are prone to hitting the ball very straight, but every once in a while get one out to the right, then aiming directly at the flag is dangerous. A shot that leaks right is going to put you in some trouble with trees, rocks, bunker, cart path. And you are shortsighted. Better to aim to the left side of the green, and allow for your push to the right to help you rather than hurt you. A standard straight shot and again you are walking away with par. 

 

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I don't pin hunt, but I try to think strategically about where to target. Our course has a number of multi-tiered greens. In general, if you're not on the same tier as the hole, it's a challenging two-putt, especially putting downhill. We also have a number of holes where a short-side miss is a super difficult up & down. 

 

I'm rarely aiming at the flag, but in general, I am picking a target on (or near) the green that affords me the highest likelihood of being on the putting surface with a "reasonable" putt.

 

My ball-striking isn't great, but my distance control with my irons is generally very good, so I'm more concerned with left or right (unless it's super windy).

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I am not familiar with DECADE but have inferred from seeing it mentioned in contexts here on the forums that it is a course management "system" or mind-set.  In Lowest Score Wins the authors examine the aiming for the green versus flag concept.  I want to say the threshold was -5 players were where it became better to aim at the flag from 100 in?

 

The one thing I haven't read yet in this thread was mention of the dispersion pattern for shots.  That was a key takeaway from LSW.  That for a right hand golfer our iron shot dispersion is sort of an oval tilted left side high and right side low.  It accounts that when we pull a shot it tends to go further and when we push or slice a shot it goes shorter.  Overlaying that dispersion pattern on the green has helped me make decisions on where to aim and what club to take.  Sometimes I will aim off the green, especially if the green is oval or oblong counter to the dispersion cloud.  If trouble is short right, I do everything in my power to shift my aim away so that pushed or weak cut or slice doesn't end up in trouble.  Trouble is relative.  I usually don't have problems from sand so I likely won't drop a shot going into a bunker short right but if it is water or ob or something like that I avoid it like the plague.

 

For greens that fit my shot dispersion cloud, I can be more aggressive and take just the right amount of club.  Most times even with a slight mishit I am still on the green.  Inside 100 yards I aim aggressively (for me) but err to the fat side of the green.  If hole is cut say 10 steps off the right side, I don't aim at the dead center of the green but I also don't aim at the flag either.  I am left of the flag maybe 10-15 feet.  At that point nothing is really off the green unless I just duff it.  Everything is a birdie putt some closer than others.

 

Inside 100 I have found my deviation is not side to side as much but rather long or short.  It is harder for me to judge a 50 yard pitch versus a 70 yard half shot.  Getting the ball on-line is much easier in that case than having the proper distance control.

 

 

I don't know this dude but here is a picture and a little commentary sort of getting to what I mentioned > https://www.andrewricegolf.com/andrew-rice-golf/2013/06/shot-patterns-with-irons

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1 hour ago, MonteScheinblum said:

I apologized if this was mentioned already.

 

Mike Small is a great player and among the best college coaches in the country.

 

He has his players play the course without pins to show the value of not pin hunting most of the time.

 

Scott Fawcett also shows how pin hunting even at the tour level is often ridiculous.

No doubt everyone would shoot better if they hit more greens and didn't short side themselves, it's a hard thing for low handicappers to put into practice though.  I think it may have been Colt Knost who said on his show that Monday qualifiers were harder than tour events because he had to shoot at every pin in order to get through.  The whole field was shooting at pins and it was inevitable that a few would get hot and shoot 62.  When he got through Monday qualifiers he had to adjust his mindset significantly to not take all the pins on because it wouldn't hold up over 4 rounds.

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It very much depends on the size of the greens you're playing and the length of shot. There's no way that such blanket advice is good advice on a real golf course because each approach shot will be different. It's simple, you need to hit the ball close to score well.

 

It's easier with modern launch monitor tech to visualise. If you imagine a target circle represents your normal shot dispersion shot (say 30ft diameter). You want the centre of that (your aiming point) to be as close to the pin as possible as long the perimeter does not overlap the edge of the green.

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I kinda like what Tom Watson talked about in one of his videos. You've got a field goal post that you're using to aim with. For me I usually hit the ball with a slight draw or straight. Miss is usually a push.  probably about 1/3 off the "left post" is my normal shot, the 2/3 off the " right post" is my normal miss. I dont really try to make plans for other misses as that will just make me crazy and just have to chuck those up to a bad swing. Set my goal post window to where its not hard to get up and down or be dancing. Tap-ins are just bonus material.

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13 minutes ago, Emthree said:

It very much depends on the size of the greens you're playing and the length of shot. There's no way that such blanket advice is good advice on a real golf course because each approach shot will be different. It's simple, you need to hit the ball close to score well.

 

It's easier with modern launch monitor tech to visualise. If you imagine a target circle represents your normal shot dispersion shot (say 30ft diameter). You want the centre of that (your aiming point) to be as close to the pin as possible as long the perimeter does not overlap the edge of the green.

Most of our greens are 12 yards wide in the middle. 2 are 20 yards wide, a couple are around 15.  Not a whole lot of room , luckily its a shorter course so for medium-long hitters most approaches are sub 150 on par 4s.

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It wouldn't have worked for me today at Westwynd GC.   They have two sets of adjoining greens.   Both #16 and #18 are together and 249' long.   #15 and #17 are together at 205' long.   Wouldn't make sense to aim for the middle of the green.    

 

I would say that "usually" it's always safer to aim for the center of the green but it depends upon your skill level and the distance of your approach shot. 

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Nope, never tried, never will on purpose (it could happen by coincidence I guess).

 

Do I aim at 18 flag sticks? Not likely unless I have a green light (like the distance, shot shape etc). When I don't have a green light, I will aim for safety. Sometime the centre of the green is the safest place, other times it is not. 

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I've thought about going for the middle of the green for entire rounds before, but just never committed to it. I think it would be fun just to see what happens.

 

Can't help going for tucked pins though...even if you don't pull off the shot, at least you have an opportunity for a cool short game shot now ? 

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Maybe I misread , but some people seem to think you mean aiming the center as a conservative, less demanding approach, and some seem to think you mean the center is a difficult target at which to aim.

 

The value of any strategy is tied up with the tactic employed.  If you hit the ball straight every time, of course aim at the flag.  If you don’t (say you tend to fade) and your goal is to end up in the center of the green, consider Nicklaus’s tactic of aligning to the left of the green, so that if your ball does go straight, you’re on the left side of the green, if you fade you’re in the middle, and if you double your fade you’re on the left side.

 

There is some possible confusing use of the term “aiming” at the center.  If by aiming you mean aligning yourself at the center and hoping the shot will go straight, when it will probably fade, you’d be better off aiming (aligning) to the left of the green.

 

Now that I think about, everybody with a preferred shot shape (say a fade) should always do what I just described.  If the flag is on the left, and you hit straight, you’re good, ditto if you fade, and if you double fade you’re still on the green.  If the flag is in the center you’re good whatever happens. If the flag is on the right, with your “bad” straight shot you’re still on the green.  But maybe that’s too pessimistic and you fade will never double and never go straight.

 

None of which applies if you have GI clubs that give you a random dispersion instead of a preferred shot shape.

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I generally have a natural ball but can also hit it straight when i want to. Hitting a fade is generally difficult for me. So if its a right pin position and i am not on the left side of the fairway i am usually aiming for the middle of the green and trying to hit it straight. If its a left position i aim for the middle and try to draw it to the flag. 

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15 hours ago, Emthree said:

It very much depends on the size of the greens you're playing and the length of shot. There's no way that such blanket advice is good advice on a real golf course because each approach shot will be different. It's simple, you need to hit the ball close to score well.

 

It's easier with modern launch monitor tech to visualise. If you imagine a target circle represents your normal shot dispersion shot (say 30ft diameter). You want the centre of that (your aiming point) to be as close to the pin as possible as long the perimeter does not overlap the edge of the green.

I'd say that you need to be putting for birdies to score well, as opposed to chipping for birdies.  For that reason, aiming for the center makes a lot of sense in many (not all) situations.

I know the second bit is just an example, bot even the best players in the world don't have a "normal shot dispersion" pattern that fits a 30-foot diameter until they get inside about 75 yards.  But I do agree, you want to aim at a point that is as close as possible to the pin while making sure that the vast majority of your shots will end up putting.

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Don't confuse "aiming for" with "aiming with intention to land the shot on the center of the green."  I can't aim for the center and hope to hit the center very often.  I can aim my push fade or slight hook depending upon the day at a spot and play for it to land at the center.

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15 hours ago, SNIPERBBB said:

Most of our greens are 12 yards wide in the middle. 2 are 20 yards wide, a couple are around 15.  Not a whole lot of room , luckily its a shorter course so for medium-long hitters most approaches are sub 150 on par 4s.

Yeah, on the smaller greens you typically find at normal courses (greens are expensive to build!), then you're constrained by width pretty much.

 

I would remind people though, that a green has depth as well as width.

 

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I think the image explains why simply aiming for the "middle" is only really applicable to novice golfers who have a dispersion pattern which covers the entire green. If you're touching on a single figure handicap (breaking 80 regularly) then your pattern should be more like the left image, so if you aim for the middle all the time you would be putting yourself at a disadvantage more often than not.

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Very nice visual. So the major point I am taking away from this thread is to figure out my shot dispersion. Obviously the longer the club the bigger the dispersion. 

 

So if my shot dispersion includes a tight water hazard on the left and bunkers on the right when aiming at the middle of the green then I should be clubbing down and aiming to land on the front of the green thereby taking the penalty areas out of play because a shorter club will have a tighter dispersion. Agree or disagree? 

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2 hours ago, Emthree said:

Yeah, on the smaller greens you typically find at normal courses (greens are expensive to build!), then you're constrained by width pretty much.

 

I would remind people though, that a green has depth as well as width.

 

aim – Bryan Pate Golf

 

I think the image explains why simply aiming for the "middle" is only really applicable to novice golfers who have a dispersion pattern which covers the entire green. If you're touching on a single figure handicap (breaking 80 regularly) then your pattern should be more like the left image, so if you aim for the middle all the time you would be putting yourself at a disadvantage more often than not.

That’s a good point. Whne I say “ middle “ I’m assuming pin high , or just short of it if I it’s a Donald Ross green where you’re dead behind the hole.  Lol. 

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2 hours ago, DallasDan said:

Very nice visual. So the major point I am taking away from this thread is to figure out my shot dispersion. Obviously the longer the club the bigger the dispersion. 

 

So if my shot dispersion includes a tight water hazard on the left and bunkers on the right when aiming at the middle of the green then I should be clubbing down and aiming to land on the front of the green thereby taking the penalty areas out of play because a shorter club will have a tighter dispersion. Agree or disagree? 

Meh...I mean how much less club are you taking? What other hazards or issues are you bringing into play? You should definitely hit away from penalty stroke hazards (water, OB), but I wouldn’t lay up short to a green I can reach to avoid water left. I’d just move my target right. How far right depends on how far away I am. Again, y’all need decade, but I do think people assume laying up or going with the same play often forget you can miss that shot too. 

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4 hours ago, Emthree said:

Yeah, on the smaller greens you typically find at normal courses (greens are expensive to build!), then you're constrained by width pretty much.

 

I would remind people though, that a green has depth as well as width.

 

aim – Bryan Pate Golf

 

I think the image explains why simply aiming for the "middle" is only really applicable to novice golfers who have a dispersion pattern which covers the entire green. If you're touching on a single figure handicap (breaking 80 regularly) then your pattern should be more like the left image, so if you aim for the middle all the time you would be putting yourself at a disadvantage more often than not.

 

This is a good visual, and I agree with the point your are making. As someone who regularly breaks 80 and hits a slight fade, I'd aim this shot just north of pin high, half way between the center line and the flag (assuming we are inside 160 yards). However, my shot distribution looks nothing like the one on the left. Shooting 79, I am making 8 bogeys and 1 birdie. I'm hitting 8/18 GIR. There's going to be balls in the rough. A few short from poor contact. A few in the back left that were hit thin and never cut. And out of 20 shots, I'm sure 1 is in the bunker.

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On 9/3/2020 at 4:38 PM, MonteScheinblum said:

I apologized if this was mentioned already.

 

Mike Small is a great player and among the best college coaches in the country.

 

He has his players play the course without pins to show the value of not pin hunting most of the time.

 

Scott Fawcett also shows how pin hunting even at the tour level is often ridiculous.

 

Couldn't remember this source, but I think it's the Small guy Monte is referencing who did a mini-study on scores in rounds without a flagstick entirely, where the players didn't know where the hole was cut at all until they were already on the green, and the average scores on those days reportedly dropped.

 

Anecdotal evidence, for sure.

 

I really think it depends on the player's handicap, but once again, the two go hand-in-hand.

 

Should a 15 handicapper be aiming to knock down every stick? Of course not. But a scratch or + is probably already not doing that. That's why he is a scratch/+ handicap. He already knows better.

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This is a fantastic idea.... once you get good at center of the green you'll find the bogeys disappear more even when you start going at pins.  It's about letting your mind understand that pars are not a big deal.  How many times in tourneys you'd be happy with even par but too often we don't pick our spots too well and end up over par.  If you're patient you will drop a couple 15-20 footers for bird...

 

You could even keep score of how many center of the greens you can hit out of 18.  And if you accidentally hit it closer to the pin you absolutely do not get a pat on the back and counts as a miss cause I could see a lot A LOT of people being cool with a "good miss"

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On 9/4/2020 at 11:54 AM, DallasDan said:

Very nice visual. So the major point I am taking away from this thread is to figure out my shot dispersion. Obviously the longer the club the bigger the dispersion. 

 

So if my shot dispersion includes a tight water hazard on the left and bunkers on the right when aiming at the middle of the green then I should be clubbing down and aiming to land on the front of the green thereby taking the penalty areas out of play because a shorter club will have a tighter dispersion. Agree or disagree? 

I've been thinking alot about golf strategy the past few months... and went out and tried to play with this thought in mind... got to the second hole (not very far!) and the pin was on the left side of a large green with a hump in the middle... I play a fade... so even aiming for the ball to stop in the middle of the green, I'm opening myself up for a LONG putt in if I fade it more than expected. 

 

2 holes in and the aim for the center of the green idea went sideways (I aimed to the left of the pin, but still AT the green, I think it went long and I two putted).

 

I think aiming at the center of the green is good generic advice, but not as applicable as a round proceeds, assuming you have a consistent one way miss and a decent golf swing.

 

Real quick, though, let's delve into the strategy for "aim for the middle/center of the green"... I'm honestly still not 100% sure on what this means... At the most basic level, assuming a green is a circle, it's the middle of that circle... but am I aiming to hit it? aiming AT it? If I know my ball is going to move 5 yards right, I aim 5 yards right of my target... so is the middle 5 yards right? I'm honestly not trying to nitpick here. In terms of green size, and this has been stated before, what if the green is the size of a football field? A 50 yard putt doesn't sound appealing to me... That gets a little extreme, but I like to test maxims at their extremes to see how they hold up... 

 

I think maybe we can rephrase this in a better way... "Pick a target that rewards a good shot, and minimizes punishment to a bad shot". I think that makes more sense overall and accounts for a variety of factors, and if you honestly assess your golf game, I think it probably has a ton of overlap with aiming towards the center of the green. I think it makes a ton of sense DISTANCE wise to aim for the middle of the green, with an eye on where a miss will go (if the pin is in the back, take more club and make a smooth swing, if the pin is in the front, take less club and be a little more aggressive). I also think you need to be aware of what club you have in your hands. If I'm under 150, I'm going to play more aggressively than if I'm 200 out... but MORE AGGRESSIVELY does not necessarily translate into aggressive. 

 

Honestly, I think one of the hardest things to do in golf is figure out what mistakes you made and how to avoid them the next round... it's easy to find the dumb swings and the missed putts (if only I had made that putt!) but hard to find the places you are consistently throwing away half strokes every round.

 

It might make sense, especially if you are playing the same course consistently, to aim for the middle for a few rounds and see where it helps your score, and see where it hurts your score... if there is a pin set up that punishes you for hitting the center of the green (or a good miss to it) maybe change the strategy the next time around. 

 

I guess "Aim for the center" is good generic advice, and should only be adjusted when necessary.

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On 9/3/2020 at 9:49 AM, smoky25 said:

For a week after our greens are aerated (big holes) we play 2-putt max since putting on them is basically a joke (no, we don't post the scores).  Almost everyone hits more greens than they normally would because they just aim for the center of the green to get that GIR and "automatic par."  I repeat, NO we don't post the scores. And no I don't care to get into an argument about "real" golf.

 

Our group does the same. Otherwise it's a game of pachinko. 

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On 9/4/2020 at 4:54 PM, DallasDan said:

Very nice visual. So the major point I am taking away from this thread is to figure out my shot dispersion. Obviously the longer the club the bigger the dispersion. 

 

So if my shot dispersion includes a tight water hazard on the left and bunkers on the right when aiming at the middle of the green then I should be clubbing down and aiming to land on the front of the green thereby taking the penalty areas out of play because a shorter club will have a tighter dispersion. Agree or disagree? 

Agreed.

 

So with your hole description, you'd be looking at something like this, in which case your front right  of green would be absolutely the percentage play and the center/middle would be more risky.

 

image.png.4c1244599738f2f3409f97ac090364ac.png

 

 

Black is your imaginary dispersion plot with XYZ club.

 

The green pin you can aim directly for.

The yellow pins are risk/reward, bunker is not automatically a disaster.

The red pins are a no go, since water is dead.

 

As an aside, if a tour player had a long iron or 3 wood into this hole they would be aiming at the cross too (or even in the bunker), regardless of pin position. Even with a short iron, if they landed it close to a red pin they definitely pulled it slightly!

 

You could keep adding variables like angle of approach shot, (big one on this), slope of green, wind, lie, tournament situation .....  but we're getting beyond the scope of the discussion.

 

My point is that every approach shot, every hole, every golf course is different. I think people who are looking to break 80 need to learn this level of course management to play their best, and should not be thinking about a 1-size-fits-all solution (which may well work on courses with relatively flat symmetrical greens).

 

If we expand it to a more casual golfer, then i'd just say play away from trouble.

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