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Risk with no reward,

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Play safe or risk taker.

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Post by lorus59 Wed 18 Feb 2015, 12:20 pm

I am curious what type of mindset you each have when you play golf. If you are on the tee for a dogleg hole, will you try to cut the corner over high trees or water, or will you play it safe down the middle? If you are in the trees and there is a small gap that if you play a low hook you could possibly get on the green but if you miss, the ball could go anywhere, or do you chip it back onto the fairway? If you are playing an approach to a tricky pin position, do you go hunting the birdie, knowing if you get it wrong it could lead to a bogey or worse, or do you play for the center of the green?

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Post by beninho Wed 18 Feb 2015, 12:59 pm

im a 20Hc hacker, and i rarely play, in comparison to many. So I like to play the improbable shots. Occasionally they come off, usually they do not. But i am only out to have some fun.

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Post by McLaren Wed 18 Feb 2015, 1:11 pm

In golf it is pretty rare that the risky shot is worth taking on. The whole point of golf is to score well in the long run and taking on risk is no way to do that. So I would have voted "play it safe" but clicked on wrong option and now cannot re-cast my vote.

You have to be in a pretty bad place not to be able to ensure only the loss of 1 shot compared to the best case scenario of taking on the risky option. So just play safe. I would always prefer to hope that I hole the long putt to make up for a mistake than trying a shot that could end in a double or worse.


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Post by super_realist Wed 18 Feb 2015, 1:17 pm

Depends on the amount of risk, the likelihood of pulling off the shot, the potential outcome of making/failing in the shot and things like your current score and how you are striking it or whether it is even a competition round.

Generally, I'm more a fan of course management as I've found it results in better scores and I feel more in control.

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 18 Feb 2015, 1:18 pm

Bl00dy Hell, I agree with Mac!

I'm an Andy North disciple on this. "Don't try to follow a bad shot with a perfect shot. Doesn't usually work for the pros, hardly ever works for amateurs. Take your medicine."

If I'm playing stroke play, I certainly don't want a big number on my card, enpugh of them anyway.
And, if I'm playing a match, my opponent is likely to be same (dismal) calibre as meself and I could still be in the hole by playing safe. If there's nothing to lose, that obviously changes the equation.

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Post by MontysMerkin Wed 18 Feb 2015, 1:18 pm

As far as a dogleg goes, I have started to try and shape my tee shots to make sure I'm flying over fairway as much as possible.
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Post by MustPuttBetter Wed 18 Feb 2015, 1:26 pm

I'm probably the most boring golfer ever. I would very gladly take par on every hole. Walking off with 18 pars would suit me just fine. Consequently I am basically looking to make par (no better, no worse) on every hole. I pretty much aim for the middle of every green (unless chipping from close obviously). If I push or pull it a bit and have a birdie chance then great.
You will never see me taking on a dogleg to cut the corner or trying to go really close to a tight pin.

There is a course near me that has a par 4 which is only about 240 but it's a big dogleg. You can reach the green but you'd have to hit it really high over trees or sling a big slice round them. Alternatively it's a 6 iron down the fairway and half a wedge onto the green.
It's a crappy course so I sometimes play it with mates who don't play much and don't want to spend much and they all always try and smash it onto the green. I knock it down the fairway and pitch it on. I'm nothing special but I'd be willing to bet I've made more birdies there than the rest of them added up and for absolute certain have made a lot less bogies.
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Post by super_realist Wed 18 Feb 2015, 1:33 pm

I usually have yardages in mind MPB, a hole <400 yards is a 3 wood off the tee, a par 5 where I can't get up in 2 is something I won't attempt unless it's down wind.

I've no idea why people try to make the game harder for themselves.

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Post by MustPuttBetter Wed 18 Feb 2015, 1:40 pm

You're better than me Super, but I'm similar in that I basically want to hit the driver as few times as I can get away with! 370 is the number I tend to go with, if the hole is less than that I'm hitting 3 wood.
Par 5s if I've decided I'm not going for it in 2 (which is 95% of the time) I'm hitting 3 wood.
Makes me laugh when you see people hit a driver off the tee, and then knock a 7 / 8 iron down the fairway to play a wedge on. Why not hit 3 wood, 6 iron? Surely much safer. I know that won't be the case for all, some people might be better with their drivers than their 3 woods etc but surely in the majority of cases avoiding the driver is safer.
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Post by super_realist Wed 18 Feb 2015, 1:43 pm

Exactly, what's point in hitting the hardest club in the bag to hit, if you can't get up in 2?
I used to keep stats, and we've a marginal hole which can be hit in two, or can be hit easily with 3 wood, 6 Iron, Wedge.

Guess which method I birdied more often?

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Post by MontysMerkin Wed 18 Feb 2015, 1:51 pm

I find the driver the easiest to hit to be honest. Quite happy to knock it 170 yards instead of trying to whack a full 6 iron. Number of times I've taken an iron for 'safety' only to F it up, whereas a little half swing with the driver will produce much better results (for me anyway!)
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Post by McLaren Wed 18 Feb 2015, 1:55 pm

I don't understand using the length of the hole as the sole determinant for what to hit from the tee?

You want to get as close as possible to the green without taking on undue risk.
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Post by super_realist Wed 18 Feb 2015, 2:01 pm

It's a generality Mac, I take into account other hazards, but I know that a hole that is less than 400 yards doesn't require a driver in terms of length, so unless I need to carry a bunker for example, I won't hit driver, if however, there is no risk, i.e. 18 at TOC, then I will hit driver, because there is 0% chance of an issue.

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Post by McLaren Wed 18 Feb 2015, 2:07 pm

Super

What is the yardage difference between your driver and 3 wood?
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Post by navyblueshorts Wed 18 Feb 2015, 2:08 pm

McLaren wrote:I don't understand using the length of the hole as the sole determinant for what to hit from the tee?

You want to get as close as possible to the green without taking on undue risk.
Bingo. The trick is in assessing the risk and most of that is down to a realistic appreciation of one's own skill etc at a given moment. Without wishing to get into it all over again, distance is a good thing.

In terms of the original question...it depends. I'll take something on in matchplay that I might not in strokeplay; not always but there's definitely a difference.
Overall, I think (finally, at age 45+) I have a decent appreciation of what shots I can make with, say, greater than a 75% chance. Appreciation of what a golfer can do most of the time is what makes a mess of those golfers cards most often i.e. "I made this 200+ yard approach over water off a downhill lie once...always go for it". Yes, made it once but dunked it almost every other time.
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Post by super_realist Wed 18 Feb 2015, 2:13 pm

McLaren wrote:Super

What is the yardage difference between your driver and 3 wood?

Mac, In TOC 254 conditions I'm hitting 3 wood about 260 and Driver about 280-290 with run on links fairways.

PLease also consider that a full shot creates more spin than a half shot for approaches, very important on hard greens, so, for my game at least, a full shot is often preferable to a half shot of shorter distance.

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Post by Roller_Coaster Wed 18 Feb 2015, 2:13 pm

Generally I take risks, it's how I enjoy it more, and yes it's probably why my score varies from say +2 to +3 on a good day to +12 or more on a bad (currently off 5 so I can quite often look like the worst 5 handicapper in the world). That said, I don't try and force carries I don't believe I have a good chance of making or attack tight pins with trouble just in front for example, I'd say I take reasonably reasonable risks.

If (when!) it goes wrong, so be it. On to the next. At the end of the day it might cost an expletive, a couple of balls and 0.1 shots.

I have played (and played well) on courses where it's irons off the tees more often than not but I just don't enjoy it as much.


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Post by McLaren Wed 18 Feb 2015, 2:26 pm

super that is a 20 to 30 yard difference in approach shots.  No matter what way you spin the spin nonsense, being 30 yards closer will reduce many shots over time.

The spin crap is something you have picked up from TV, almost every study on golf scores shows link between reduced distance and reduce scores.
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Post by super_realist Wed 18 Feb 2015, 2:33 pm

Mac, If I was to practice 80 yard shots instead of 110 shots, i'd probably agree with you, however, most trouble around a green is within 80-100 yards, if I go for distance all the time, I risk hitting trouble, I've already said if the risk is low, I'll take driver.

I had a match at the weekend with a big hitter, he was about 20 yards past me on most shots, yet, the majority of the time, I was closer to the pin with my approach.
It is entirely dependent on playing to ones strength. My strength is in hitting accurate shots into the fairway, i'm currently working on my short irons, but currently i'm more consistently accurate hitting 100-110 than an 80 yards shot. That's my fault and why I prefer (at present at least) to play from that distance.


Last edited by super_realist on Wed 18 Feb 2015, 2:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Roller_Coaster Wed 18 Feb 2015, 2:36 pm

I buy into the less distance left more chance (and Mr Woods seems to have played that way quite a lot) BUT half wedge versus full wedge I'm better full wedge on distance, control and left/right variation so Super's assertion does make absolute sense.

Also, if it's a 120 wedge from the scheize or a 140 yard 8 iron from the fairway, chances are the fairway player will come out on top, particularly where the rough is designed to penalise somewhat.

Merit both ways in the right circumstances. My scores often attest that shorter approaches from cabbage is the wrong way!

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Post by George1507 Wed 18 Feb 2015, 3:21 pm

Usually it depends on the circumstances of the game, and whether there is a realistic chance of making the shot. Anything with a carry of more than 260 yards isn't feasible for me, especially if there are trees in the way. It might be 250 yards over the dogleg, but if there's a tree at 249 yards, then it's probably a 280 yard hit to get it over that tree.

So assuming it's a shot that I have the capability of playing -

In medal with a good score going, I'd play safe.
In medal with a reasonable score going, I'd think about what other birdie chances there'll be after that hole. If it's the last reasonable birdie chance I might give it a go.
In medal with a poor score going, I'd probably give it a go.

In matchplay it depends on the state of the game, and if I'm giving a shot. If I have to give someone a shot, and I'm losing, and he's safely on the fairway - then yes, I'd go for it.

Otherwise - no, I'll hit it on the fairway and leave the heroics to someone else.

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Post by MustPuttBetter Wed 18 Feb 2015, 4:10 pm

McLaren wrote:I don't understand using the length of the hole as the sole determinant for what to hit from the tee?

You want to get as close as possible to the green without taking on undue risk.

Exactly, that's the point. Why hit a club that's say 25% (insert your own stat here) more likely to get you in the trouble to gain one club shorter into the green. The risk outweighs the reward (unless you're 25% more likely to hit the longer iron into the crap than the shorter one)
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Post by JAS Fri 20 Feb 2015, 11:25 am

I went for play it safe but there are of course caveats. The most obvious one being in 4bbb matchplay when your partner is in position A.

In medal play for me it's all about course management with a view to damage limitation. Yes it's a great feeling when the risky shot comes off, of course it is but the feeling of self-loathing when it does not and costs you a double or a triple...yuk!!

I do wonder what the correlation is in the results between high and low handicappers. Down the lower end of the handicap scale every shot is a prisoner, so careful course management and derisking to keep a score going becomes more prevalent than the Gung Ho approach. A double to a 5 handicapper is much more damaging than a double to a 24.
I do see players frequently with much more ability than me on higher handicaps but time after time you see them take the Gung Ho shot and wrecking their card.

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Post by Roller_Coaster Fri 20 Feb 2015, 11:35 am

JAS wrote:
I do see players frequently with much more ability than me on higher handicaps but time after time you see them take the Gung Ho shot and wrecking their card.

Hello! (although I actually don't for one second suggest I have more ability than you - just the gung ho, splat rings true).


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Post by JAS Fri 20 Feb 2015, 12:17 pm

I always remember an incident at St Enodoc several years ago, me and a mate were down there and it was a fairly blowy day, think I was off 7 or 8 at the time and my mate off 15. We came to the small par 3 8th which was right into the teeth of the wind. I just managed to scrape onto the front edge with a 4 iron. My mate clearly under clubbed for the wind and left himself just short of the row of front greenside bunkers. So he was faced with from a bare lie.

1. a flop over the left hand bunker
2. a putt up the saddle between the left and middle bunker which reasonably executed would have left a 6-10 foot par putt.

Out came the lob wedge and I had to look away to wryly smile unseen. When I looked back after the expletive I then saw a fairly decent impersonation of a helicopter crashing sideways into sand and the front of the green being voluntarily top dressed.

To me it was one of the best practical illustrations I've had on percentage play.

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Post by McLaren Fri 20 Feb 2015, 12:38 pm

The flop shot from lesser players is one of the most annoying sights on a golf course. Resorting to the 60° would appear to be a sign of lack of confidence in the short game but the results are usually dire. From even the most simple chip and run position high handicappers get the lob wedge up and try and chuck the ball into the air in the hope it will land somewhere near the hole.

Unless you have the time to master the lob wedge it will be one of the most damaging clubs in your bag. I can sympathise with anyone struggling with the short game but seeing duffed 60°+ wedge shots is heartbreaking.
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Post by super_realist Fri 20 Feb 2015, 12:42 pm

I love playing that type of shot, but will only ever play it when it's the only option. I too find it hilarious when someone is perhaps 6 ft off the green, nothing in front of them, and they pull out the lob wedge and try to get it close using a flop shot. Effectively the ball is travelling twice as far due to height, and they expect to get it as close as a low chip, bump and run or a putter.

No wonder most golfers are rubbish and should only use the lob wedge for bunker shots.

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Post by Roller_Coaster Fri 20 Feb 2015, 1:57 pm

To lob or not to lob is often a matter of golfing maturity. Despite erring on the risk side, I leave the flopper to the last resort these days, although I did use it a lot when I first came back to the game. I do enjoy getting a good lob on though.

Problem now is I'm not that good at the bump n run or the low chip either.

b***dy golf.

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Post by raycastleunited Fri 20 Feb 2015, 4:27 pm

McLaren wrote:
 Resorting to the 60° would appear to be a sign of lack of confidence in the short game

?

Don't get this. You have to be supremely confident to take the aerial route. Bump and run is the lower risk option. When I'm around the green, I think to myself "what's the least lofted club I can use to execute this shot?" - starting with the putter.

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Post by McLaren Fri 20 Feb 2015, 4:35 pm

ray

The lesser player assumes more loft is the easier option.
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Post by raycastleunited Fri 20 Feb 2015, 4:42 pm

That's a bit of sweeping statement. How do you define the "lesser" player? And have you carried out a survey to back that up?

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Post by McLaren Fri 20 Feb 2015, 4:45 pm

Those struggling to break 100, or better players than that with very poor short games.
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Post by navyblueshorts Fri 20 Feb 2015, 5:23 pm

super_realist wrote:I love playing that type of shot, but will only ever play it when it's the only option. I too find it hilarious when someone is perhaps 6 ft off the green, nothing in front of them, and they pull out the lob wedge and try to get it close using a flop shot. Effectively the ball is travelling twice as far due to height, and they expect to get it as close as a low chip, bump and run or a putter.

No wonder most golfers are rubbish and should only use the lob wedge for bunker shots.
Now that is a perceptive observation. Not that I remotely want to hit a flop shot on every chip but have to admit to having never thought of the pros and cons of those two options in that way (maybe it's just me!) but will have to think again... chin
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Post by raycastleunited Fri 20 Feb 2015, 5:50 pm

When greens are soft, I find the flop shot the lower risk option, as you don't have to guage bounce and roll but just pop it up to the hole and it sticks.

But then I have a good short game.

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Post by longgame Wed 25 Feb 2015, 5:39 pm

Obviously it depends on the situation and format.

Matchplay... If I am up then im going to play safe and if I am down then I will attack. However, attacking may not mean trying to play a heroic shot, just putting pressure on the oppo in the safest way.

90% of the time I would play the safest shot (or shot less likely to bring about a bogey or worse)

This is most likely why I play off 3 and not scratch....... 3 holes at my home course are a good example of why......

4th: Par4: 310 - easily reacahable due to the fairway running downhill from 100 yards out. However the fairway is only about 15-20 yards wide at its widest. Out of bounds right, pond and dense bush left with 2 nasty bunkers about 30-40 yards from the green off either side of the fairway (about where my driver would land)
For me, this hole is a 5i and some kind of wedge shot all day long, garunteed par. A lot of the other low players I play with hit driver and will bridie more often than not, however if they birdie it 60% of the time then they make bogey or usually double the other 40%. il take 4 there every day and move on.

14th: Par5: 510ish: OB all the way down the right of the hole, nasty bushes and thick grass about 240 out of the left. fairway is wideish though, lake surrounding 3 sides of the green from 60 out.
For me it is a 2iron, 8iron wedge and hope to hole a putt for birdie - again it takes bogey out of play.
I don't feel it is a 2 shot hole because unless you bomb it over 300 (which isn't possible for almost anyone unless its summer and the fairways are running a lot) then you still have a long iron over water to a narrow green.

16th: Par5: 500ish. fairway is no more than 10 yards wide from the tee to about 200 out. thick trees either side.
Again, standard play is a 2iron, mid iron wedge here.


This is my standard course of action on those holes in most strokeplay competitions, in matchplay if im down then I may go for driver on the 5s. However, sometimes I see attacking golf as putting the ball safe off the tee.
If im 1 down but on the tee first on those holes then I will usually still hit a 2 iron because my opponent seeing my ball in the fairway can be as much as an aggressive play as hitting a driver.


I don't buy the "closest to the hole is always best"..... too many variables for that.
Yes if I can leave myself 70 yards I am more likely to make birdie than from 130 but if trying to get closer brings in more chance of dropping shots then its not the right play.

Someone said 18 pars is what they aim for.... I think most golfers (barring cat1) would take 18 pars a round for the rest of their life and be over the moon.

Sometimes Par is a great score, deciding when to attack and what you class as attacking is key though.

I think it was tiger who said about one of his open rounds (correct me if im wrong) that being aggressive is playing 30ft from the pin sometimes!

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Post by Roller_Coaster Fri 27 Feb 2015, 9:43 am

longgame wrote:I think it was tiger who said about one of his open rounds (correct me if im wrong) that being aggressive is playing 30ft from the pin sometimes!

Knowing that (and actually putting it in to practise) is a big differentiator at all levels!

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Post by George1507 Fri 27 Feb 2015, 10:17 pm

It's finally dawned on me that I struggle with shots of 35 to 70 yards. I am now so poor from that distance that I actively ensure I don't end up that distance from the pin. On par 5s it's now about leaving myself 100 yards, or go for the green. Same with long par 4s into strong winds. I started doing that last year, and it has helped my scores.

Since I started this, I have noticed how many courses have some trouble about 40 yards from the green. I don't practice much these days either - especially in the winter - but when I do I just practice shots of 100 -115 yards. Hit 20 of those twice a week and it's amazing how much more confident I feel. It seems so much easier than trying to remember precisely how hard to hit a 50 yard wedge shot.

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Post by super_realist Sat 28 Feb 2015, 11:51 am

I took note of how poor I was with those shots too George, this year I've spent a bit more time practicing that type of shot whilst also buying a driver I'm more comfortable with, it will be interesting to see if increased distance/accuracy and shorter shots I'm facing and that I've practiced will result in better scores, or will I simply find myself in more hazards?

If this cold wind ever relents, I might find out.

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Post by George1507 Sat 28 Feb 2015, 3:37 pm

Practice is always good SR. It's hard to replicate those short shots, especially in the winter. It's bit easier in the summer when the ground is nice and firm, but trying to hit delicate wedge shots off soggy, muddy turf is very difficult.

Maybe later in the year I'll invest in some new wedges to boost my confidence a bit. Until then I'll just keep trying to leave myself full shots.

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