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Committing to using the “middle of green” distance


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On 9/7/2021 at 7:51 AM, dlygrisse said:

It’s amazing how many times you will see someone leave it short of the green to a front pin, when knocking it a few paces long is a much easier putt for most people than a tricky short sided pitch. 

 

I think the main reason for that is most of us assume we're going to catch every iron cleanly and get our expected or maximum distance for that club.

 

A secondary reason is that very few public courses leave enough room behind the greens to go long. 

Short is usually fairway, rough, maybe a bunker, but almost always a playable shot. The penalty for missing long is often worse than coming up short. Too often it's a downhill slope leading toward some white stakes!

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On 9/7/2021 at 7:51 AM, dlygrisse said:

It’s amazing how many times you will see someone leave it short of the green to a front pin, when knocking it a few paces long is a much easier putt for most people than a tricky short sided pitch. 

 

I think the reason for this is most people are trying to hit their irons at their maximum distance. I did this for about 15 years until I finally realized it was true what the better players were saying - swing easier with your irons.

 

Part of the problem is also marketing - longer hitting irons sell good so no one ever wants to be left behind. I only plan on hitting my 7 iron 154 yards, which I believe many would find is too short based on how far I hit my woods.

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Middle of the green is a great concept for most until you have a better idea about and more distance control over your ball. When in doubt, aim for center mass.

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I've been doing this all season long. My gir rate has gone up exponentially. I only try to aim for the flag when I am inside 100 yards. Sometimes if it is a very sucker pin, then middle of the green again. I also started hitting knockdown shots again instead of full swing from 150 - 100 yards and it has been working like a charm. 

 

The golf courses I play usually have very small greens. When I play regular sized greens golf courses, it's like a feast lol 

 

But of course, in every rule, there is an exception. If it will leave me a very downhill putt then I do not follow the middle of the green rule and adjust accordingly. 

 

My putting though has gone up, lots of two putts. My scrambling has gone down, few chances or looks at scrambling. According to my Game Golf, my approach play has become my strength and it is comparable to a scratch player. I am a 8 handicapper. 

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On 9/6/2021 at 1:00 AM, jumboross said:

You might be interested in Scott Fawcett's Decade system.  He deals a lot with choosing the correct target by working out your average deviation from whatever distance you have.  There is a very good app and you can get a 'lite' version.  I've been getting into it over the last couple of months and its helping.  There's a lot more to the Decade system that that, but the target choosing piece is a key facet. 

 

I downloaded this app and the first thing the app asks is for you to login.  I don't have a login and there's no opportunity to sign up.

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Duplicate post.

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One of the best pieces of advice I ever read.  
 

Pick a club, that you know 100% you can hit over the back of the green with a gun to you head.  Take one club less, this is the club you should hit to most greens.  

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On 9/5/2021 at 5:44 PM, me05501 said:

I think I’m ready to commit to ignoring the flagstick and the front edge/back edge numbers on my GPS watch and just planning the distance of my approach shots using the “middle of the green” number. 
 

I know this is a relatively common course management strategy, but it’s not one I’ve really tried. Like most people I’ve always wanted as much information as I could get before hitting into the green, and I’ve routinely chosen the club I thought would leave me closest to the flagstick vs. in the center of the green. 
 

After playing 36 holes yesterday and leaving myself short-sided more times than I can count, it’s obvious that there’s a simple and sane way to avoid that almost all the time. I have good distance control with my irons and wedges, but there’s just not enough margin for error when I go pin hunting. 
 

I’m a pretty solid putter but my game is more about making two-putt pars than a lot of birdies. I think I will have more two-putt pars by increasing the margin for error, reducing the number of greenside recovery shots and taking pressure off that part of my game. 
 

If you’ve been using this approach for a while I’d enjoy hearing about your results. 


Most of us aren’t really accurate enough to aim for the pins, so it’s only logical to aim for centre.

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This is going to sound odd I am sure but it supports what the OP is saying.  When my home course aerates the greens, for about a week or two, groups will play an automatic two putt rule due to the bumpiness.  My GIRs go  up when we do this because I could care less where the pin is.  I just play fat of the green.  Can still sneak in birdies by letting the hole come to me.  Not every hole is cut toward the edges is why.  

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On 9/6/2021 at 3:33 PM, iutodd said:

I just don't know that the goal for every approach shot is "on the green".  That sounds insane of course - but I think the goal for every approach shot is to give myself the best opportunity for birdie or par depending on the club and yardage.  That goal does often coincide with being on the green obviously - but it technically doesn't always!

 

Like at some point the percentages shift.  If you put concentric circles around the hole you're playing with how often you make par (or get down in two) from that distance...at some point you'd have a better chance of making par from OFF the green in the fringe/fairway than you would from being on the green itself right?

 

I guess I just think you shouldn't always do one thing and/or never do another thing.  

 

I sort of agree with you.  I mean I agree with the principle.  But...

 

I played the other day and found that even with a really long putt the resulting next shot was nearly always better than my best effort chip/pitch.  And I hit some decent efforts.  One from a greenside bunker that was not a bad shot at all but didn't get me inside 3 feet for a sure thing make.  I two putted from where the bunker shot left me (I think about 12 foot).  Statistically I am not making many 12 footers no matter how well I am putting.

 

The chances of me two putting were way higher with a chip than they were following a putt.

 

So I guess what I am saying is that putt would need to be a very long one or through a tier or two to be a worse off situation than a greenside chip.  If you factor in the conditions the OP references I think being on the green is even more critical.

 

On 9/13/2021 at 9:11 AM, ChipNRun said:

 

Middle of the green may work for about half the approaches in a round, but on the rest of them you have to think. And you have to go with what feels good on that shot. Overdoing the number crunching leads to paralysis by analysis.

 

Examples where "middle" doesn't work:

  • Extremely large greens, especially long ones. Hit the middle of the green, and you're facing a 50-foot putt.
  • Multi-node greens. The fifth hole on my home course has a green with basically four nodes - two left half and two right half. Put a shot into true middle, there's no telling where the ball may come to rest.
  • Terraced greens, first cousin of above. Need to work one end of green or the other, middle can leave you in neighborhood, but 50 feet from cup.
  • Approaches with tail wind. Saw the final round of the inaugural Ascension Charity Classic, a Champions Tour event at Norwood Hills CC in St. Louis. David Toms won a playoff over Dickie Pride when the two tied at -10 in regulation.
    • The 465-yard 18th hole has an oval shaped green with a slight false front.  Pin was maybe a third of the way back. The wind went a lighter shifting breeze to a 15-MPH tail wind for the final few groups.
    • Near end, players going for middle had mixed success, as some balls released long into deep bunkers. Most of late birdies came from players who dropped the ball short, and bounced it up the false front to near the cup.

Sometimes you just have to step up to the ball and play golf!

 

I run into the bolded scenarios at one course I used to play frequently.  You really needed to be in the proper tier or quadrant to have a chance at a putt there.  I approached it as though each section/bowl/tier/quadrant was it's own green and then played to that.  With a little familiarity of the greens you knew which spots were in bowls where you could count on the internal green slope to serve as a backstop and where the green surrounds could be used to stop a shot.

 

On those type of greens there were times where being off was better than putting from the wrong tier.  Par 5 number 7 was that way.  It had tiers that went high left to low right.  When the hole was cut on the right hand side of the green you could not hold the green from the uppermost tier with a putt.  We stood there one day and dropped several balls just to try and see.  That was the seemingly "safe miss" too as there were no bunkers or other visible trouble there and a nice fairway bowl to collect shots missing the green to the left.  You paid the price though if the hole was cut on the right hand side as you would be lucky to get down in three from there.

 

3 hours ago, Lincoln_Arcadia said:


Most of us aren’t really accurate enough to aim for the pins, so it’s only logical to aim for centre.

 

That is false logic according to Decade and some other new thoughts.  

 

You have to reconcile that you have a spot where you aim, a spot where you want the ball to finish according to where you have aimed, and a cloud or oval of where most of your shots around that aim spot could likely finish.

 

Most right handed golfers dispersion clouds are oval shaped with a 10:00 to 4:00 axis tilt.  If you hook a ball it tends to go farther than normal and left.  Slice or push goes shorter and right.  That makes sense.  The better you are at controlling dispersion (better ballstriker) the smaller that oval gets.  Now you take your personal oval and place it where you want the ball to finish.  Does your oval overlay trouble?  A bunker or water or deep rough or severe slope?  If you can lose strokes because of it move your oval.  

 

Where you aim is not the same thing as where you want the ball to finish.  I have to aim about 5-8 yards left of where I want the ball to finish to account for a fade with my irons and to the right of where I want the ball to finish with my wedges on full shots.

 

If you replace center with "fat part of green" I am inclined to agree.  Aim at a spot where your most likely outcome shot will finish on the green allowing you a good chance at a two putt conversion and the odd one putt.

 

There are some really good diagrams out there.  I am sure Decade has them but I am not a paying member for it so don't have access.

 

Lowest Score Wins  has some in it for both iron shots into the green and to illustrate choices off the tee such as between driver, 3 wood and hybrid.

 

........

 

Most public courses have few true hazards beyond the greens.  All the frills and interest are in the front as that is where they can be put where they know they will get some action.  I really like the idea of using the back of green yardage as my distance.  If you had really big greens maybe split the difference between middle and back yardage, especially if the hole is cut in the front third somewhere.

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8 hours ago, smashdn said:

Most public courses have few true hazards beyond the greens.

 

Few true hazards, but lots of headaches.

 

My dad decided the full Friar Tuck haircut was the way to go:  JustfuckmyshitupMany greenskeepers seem to be fans of the Robin Hood character, Friar Tuck. Tuck's haircut was called a Tonsure, shaving the top but leaving side hair shaggy. Similarly many greenskeepers surround greens with a ring of shaggy grass, often a foot off the fringe.

If you go long you can end up in 4-inch deep stuff... landing short lets you chip off the fairway grass.

 

Not all greens keepers do this. Many have a first-cut or shaved area just off the green, and have shaggier rough farther to the sides.

 

Second point: quite a few public course greens have an upslope behind the green, in part to prevent long shots from disappearing. The tradeoff: You end up with a 45-degree angle downhill shot out of 4-inch-deep rough. Fun, fun! If the green also drains from back to front, Fun-Fun-Fun!

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9 hours ago, ChipNRun said:

Second point: quite a few public course greens have an upslope behind the green, in part to prevent long shots from disappearing. The tradeoff: You end up with a 45-degree angle downhill shot out of 4-inch-deep rough. Fun, fun! If the green also drains from back to front, Fun-Fun-Fun!

 

Probably my own game bias creeping in but I had rather play a ball from rough on an upslope than a tight lie.  I have a little more margin for error with the rough than the tighter cut by virtue of the ball sitting up some.  There aren't many courses around here with really severe back-to-front slopes.  The ones that do have some of the steepest are on an old muni where the speed o f the green is such that it doesn't leave a terribly fast putt.

 

Also, that would be one of the things you would take into consideration when you are selecting your club.  If the hole is cut way back on a green with those conditions just about anything below the hole is going to be better than past.  Off that green would be a dropped shot most likely.  Take long out of play with the club that would only just get to the back if you pured it.

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General shot pattern for all golfers is to go longer on pull side misses and shorter on push side misses.   This is due to the way the irons are constructed and the D-Plane.

 

What's interesting from my research is that higher handicaps (10-25) tend to have a higher distribution of push side misses while the 0-10 handicaps see more of a distribution towards the pull side.  Then the sub scratch golfers start to see more of an even distribution of pull vs. push misses, but the better ballstrikers of the sub-scratch group tend to favor more push side misses.  And if they miss pull side, it's not enough to where they will miss long by a substantial amount.

 

With that being said, about 5 years ago I did research on Tour players and found that the hole locations that give them the most problems on par-4's and par-3's are front pin locations.  This surprised me because I would have thought the back pin locations would be worse because it is effectively making the hole longer.  

 

I know Lou Stagner has shown data that there is a sizable dropoff in GIR % on front pin locations vs. back pin locations on Tour from the same distance on the approach shot.  

 

My conclusion is that front pin locations are problematic for golfers because golfers tend to miss short of the target distance than long.  Combine that with the tendency to have the bigger miss of the 'pushed-and-short', it creates worse short side scenarios.

 

I think front pin locations are deceptive in that if a golfer hits a quality tee shot, they probably won't make many double bogeys or worse with a front pin location.  But if they miss the green on a front pin location, I believe the odds of making bogey shoot dramatically up because it's so easy to short side yourself.  It's almost like death by a 1000 paper cuts.

 

And that's a problem for Tour players, imagine the rest of the golfing world who don't have nearly their skill level.  

 

For very low handicaps, I recommend adding 5 yards (to what the hole is playing) on front pin locations.  For example, a short par-3 on my home course has a front pin location that is 148 yards long.  But the incline slope adds about 5 yards.  And if there's a 1-club wind in my face, now I play the 148 yard hole more like 168 yards to better ensure that I don't short side myself.   If I catch one flush and go 5 yards long, then I'm left with a 15-foot putt which is still quite makeable.

 

 

 

 

RH

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12 hours ago, ChipNRun said:

Second point: quite a few public course greens have an upslope behind the green, in part to prevent long shots from disappearing. The tradeoff: You end up with a 45-degree angle downhill shot out of 4-inch-deep rough. Fun, fun! If the green also drains from back to front, Fun-Fun-Fun!

image.png.57536da32e8f293c5738d2f42850d781.png

 

Smash, just wanted to make sure we're on same page. As shown above, I was referring to "upslope" an terrain angle that leaves you with downhill lie behind green.

 

2 hours ago, smashdn said:

Probably my own game bias creeping in but I had rather play a ball from rough on an upslope than a tight lie.  I have a little more margin for error with the rough than the tighter cut by virtue of the ball sitting up some.

 

If a  hole has a crowned green, then you likely would have the uphill shot you're talking about. The TV announcers often remark that golfer has a greenside shot from first cut of rough, and with cushioning can either slide a wedge underneath, or play chip-and-run with lower lofted club.

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, ChipNRun said:

Smash, just wanted to make sure we're on same page. As shown above, I was referring to "upslope" an terrain angle that leaves you with downhill lie behind green.

 

You got me.  I did misunderstand.  Very few courses at all here, and even fewer public/muni courses, have greens like that.  Most all are push-up greens where the you would be hitting back up onto the green.  The green pad is sort of a "pimple" raised above the surrounding ground.  Very few places around here actually have nice greens that melt into the surrounds well.  Even a green benched into a hillside like you show would have a distinct low spot surrounding the green coming off of that backslope to prevent water from running off the hill and across the green.

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I have found long misses to be worse than being short on the courses I have played. They are like what @smashdn is talking about. The green structures are almost always raised from fairway. They all slope back to front. So a miss long on many greens means a chip from the rough below the green to a green sloping away from you. It's even worse if there are bunkers behind the green since it's not a sand shot from a crappy bunker onto a downslope. 

 

Of course there are exceptions. 9 and 18 of my home course both have a pond short of the green. Short is terrible and so that back bunker to a green sloping away and with a tier doesn't look as bad.

 

The talk about dispersion is pretty interesting with the lopsided oval. I was already familiar with the concept of the oval but never though of the difference a pull versus a pull has. As a high handicap, I don't worry or even know what my oval looks like. I tend to know my predominate miss with an iron but even that changes as I work on my swing... 

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8 hours ago, smashdn said:

Most all are push-up greens where the you would be hitting back up onto the green.  The green pad is sort of a "pimple" raised above the surrounding ground. 

 

It ends up being a trade-off. You apparently face a lot of crowned greens - fall off on all sides. Easier recovery shots, but sometimes it's more difficult to hold the greens.

 

The greens I face - with rising slope if you are wide or short - are more "zero-one"  as the computer guys say.  If you spin it deep, the upslope will feed you back at least to the fringe. But if it flies long, you're trying to hit a downhill shot without doing a face-plant on your follow-through.

 

Smash, good comments by you. Good luck on those birdie putts!

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On 9/6/2021 at 10:33 AM, iutodd said:

I just don't know that the goal for every approach shot is "on the green".  That sounds insane of course - but I think the goal for every approach shot is to give myself the best opportunity for birdie or par depending on the club and yardage.  That goal does often coincide with being on the green obviously - but it technically doesn't always!

 

Like at some point the percentages shift.  If you put concentric circles around the hole you're playing with how often you make par (or get down in two) from that distance...at some point you'd have a better chance of making par from OFF the green in the fringe/fairway than you would from being on the green itself right?

 

I guess I just think you shouldn't always do one thing and/or never do another thing.  

 

Agreed. 

 

The farther out you are, center of the green might not even be the right play if there are penalty areas only on one side of the green.

 

The closer you are, center of the green also eventually becomes ridiculous.  You're not going to aim center of the green chipping from 3 yards off.

 

I agree that most amateurs aim for the pin way too often, but always aiming center of the green can be just as laughable.  Course management is not binary.

 

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On 9/18/2021 at 1:39 AM, LBB said:

 

Agreed. 

 

The farther out you are, center of the green might not even be the right play if there are penalty areas only on one side of the green.

 

The closer you are, center of the green also eventually becomes ridiculous.  You're not going to aim center of the green chipping from 3 yards off.

 

I agree that most amateurs aim for the pin way too often, but always aiming center of the green can be just as laughable.  Course management is not binary.

 

 

Yeah I don't think any of us are aiming to the center on a three-yard chip shot, so that's pretty much a red herring. 

 

My main goal is to enjoy a bigger margin of error in all directions by using the center distance provided by my GPS watch and ignoring the "front" and "back" distances. 

 

The "front" and "back" distances provided by a GPS device are not statistically equivalent to the "middle" distance. They are the LIMITS of the green as measured from the position of the watch. If you're 3-5 yards long or short of the middle of the green you are still on the green. If you're 1/2 yard long of the "back" number you aren't.

 

My mistake has been treating these figures as equally useful when it fact they are not. 

 

Here's a picture of a par three I play fairly often that makes the point quite well. The tees are in the lower right and the green is in the upper left corner. There are mounds around the green that disguise the shape from the tee and make it very tempting to go flag-hunting. That front section is the most visible from the tee, but it slopes steeply toward the front. When the pin is in the other sections you can usually only see the top of the flag and not the bottom. 

 

The "front" and "back" numbers on GPS will be somewhere between misleading and useless. The number I'd really want to know is the distance to that closest part of the rear edge that eats back into the middle of the green. 

 

I hope to avoid being caught out by such design features by using the "middle" distance much more often. 

 

720369522_NobNorth8.png.c8553a537a81fa8cabdc04f8bfddf7c5.png

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I really like this approach OP, pun lol!

 

The game you're playin is..... Tap-in Par

 

There is no such game as...... Tap-in Birdie.  No one has ever hit into 3 feet on the regular.... you might get 1 a round lol.... but we play like we do and take the associated risk. 

 

Play Tap-in Par and make lots of Pars and take the Birds when they come..... specially when you're a good putter as you are. 

 

Then as the game tightens up play closer to flag when easy, favorite yardage, got a nice lie, shorter, feelin it etc...

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On 9/12/2021 at 11:11 AM, bortass said:

Do you guys change the strategy when you have a partial shot in?

Full shot or partial, strategy depends on the green size, speed and undulations in relationship to the pin.

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