Welcome to Play Smart, a game improvement column published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday by Game Improvement Editor Luke Kerr-Dineen (who you can follow on Twitter here).
One of the reasons pros are pros is that they learn to avoid stupid mistakes that make us worse.
Yes, it’s true that professional golfers swing the club at incredible speed, with remarkable consistency, and hit the ball the ball away with astonishing accuracy. But we put a lot of emphasis on the fact that professional golfers are elite level club swingers, and along the way we forget that they are also elite level golfers. thinkers.
Let’s take an example from last week’s event, the WGC Match Play.
The 17th hole at Austin Country Club, on paper, is fairly innocuous: a 150-yard par-3. During the third round of group play, the pin was placed well to the left front, which meant the hole played a paltry 123 yards.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the pin’s location puts that pin firmly in the tee box, as 123 yards is little more than a flip gap wedge for most players. The average lap of this range is around 20 feet, and it’s a field limited to the best players in the world.
And yet, what we’ve seen are players aiming almost exclusively a way of the spindle. Most shots landed north of 130 yards to the right of the pin, leaving them with a putt within 28 feet.
Why? Because even though they had an easy corner on their hands, the pros refused to be drawn into flirting with the thing they absolutely couldn’t do: miss short in the brush. It may have been a great opportunity to chase a birdie, but the No. 1 priority remained unchanged: hit the green and give yourself a putt.
It’s a stark contrast to what amateurs do in this situation, and it’s a lesson we would be well served to avoid.
The catch: Short misses a front pin
As you can see from the Arccos infographic below based on its own data, even for the best amateur golfers among us, when the pin is placed in front, golfers only hit the green about half the time.
The reason for this is twofold: amateur golfers tend to under-club and miss their target. This error is especially exposed when the pin is at the front of the green, as golfers will jump at the chance to hit a shorter club. Then, when they hit their ball less than expected, their ball ends up missing – wasting all that open green sitting in front of the pin.
In contrast, when the pin is at the back of the green, golfers are almost tricked into making the right decision. They hit the club based on the number to the pin, and when they miss their target, they often catch a chunk of the putting surface anyway. Even though it is a longer distance, the GIR rate is better.
So the next time you’re on the golf course and you see a pin on the front of the green tempting you, remember this blog post describing what the pros do. Play it safe. Aim for the oiliest part of the green and hit the club that will get you there, wherever the pin is.
You’ll end up hitting more greens, and who knows, you might even make a putt at the end.