“Another 17 yards…” you might recognise this particular sales pitch from one of the top equipment manufacturers. Given that more distance seems to be the selling point of most of the big names now, why aren’t we all bombing it 300 yards off the tee, taking a pitching wedge from 150 and flirting with scratch golf?
Hitting Longer Tee Shots?
Whoever said ‘drive for dough, putt for show” wasn’t kidding. Nobody wants to be the shortest hitter in their group from the tee. But should this really be top of your want list?
Last year I played quite often with two different players, both off who play a different sort of golf to myself. The first, a young lad aged 12, was often drawn with my in competitions simply because we both have similar handicaps (at least at the start of the year…..). The second, I guy I often play with in scrambles, is pushing 70 and plays off 10 (and is around that score every week).
What do both of these guys have in common? They are relatively short off the tee. without talking myself up too much, I would guess that I would be regularly 50 or more yards past them on every hole. The youngster might be pulling out a hybrid off the fairway when I was hesitating between a six and seven iron.I should have been killing these guys, right?
Hit Straighter Drives
Well, no! I think I bit the 12 year old once last year. and as for my pensioner friend, I was no where near. So what do these guys do that I don’t? Hit fairways. Really, the major difference between us is accuracy, not distance. They are playing their second shots on every hole from the short stuff. I might be doing that one time out of three!
Of course, I love to talk up that monster that split the fairway in two, but the truth is, it really doesn’t happen that much and certainly isn’t making a real difference to my scores.
So what is the solution? I’m afraid I am as weak as everyone else. If I have a driver in my bag, that bad boy is coming out every chance it gets and I am unfortunately (even at my age) to foolish to understand the idea of swinging within myself with the big stick.
Hitting Irons off The Tee
So how about this for a plan? Instead of taking a driver off every par 4 and 5, choose the longest club that you can be fairly sure of getting on the fairway. Maybe for those who are better than me, this might be a three wood. But really, this could be a six iron. Wait! Did you really say play a six iron off the tee? Actually, yes, I did.
Now before someone tells me that there is no way you can hit a par four in regulation by playing a six iron off the tee, I say “so what?”. If you are a bogey golfer like me, just how many Greens in Regulation (GIR) are you hitting anyway? Probably between 3 and 6. Do you really think you can’t hit 4 GIR with a six iron off the tee? And how much easier do you think it is to play every second shot from the middle of the fairway?
Greens In Regulation plus One
In fact, for us bogey golfers, maybe GIR really shouldn’t be our aim at all. Bogey golf means playing every hole in par plus one. Well, what about getting there comfortably by playing say, six iron, six iron, wedge and two safe putts? Mix in the occasional one putt and shorter par 4s and par 3s where we can get there with our 6 iron, this seems like a pretty smart way to get in a few shots under our par.
And while we are on the subject of achievable aims, perhaps it is time to move forward from the championship tees? I played a round from the ladies tees a couple of weeks ago because of winter rules and hit seven iron off almost every tee. I hadn’t enjoyed a round so much for a while.
So maybe it is time to turn away from the advertising sirens. Hey, Taylormade, Ping, Callaway, Wilson etc know how we work. They make some great clubs and pushing the distance button has us reaching for our wallets. But is it really the way to better, more enjoyable golf?