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This past weekend a situation arose that gave me an important reminder of golf and how games change. It brought an interesting & # 39; tug of war & # 39; that still takes place between the past and the future of the game, particularly on how to improve and get lower scores.
So I wrote (well, typed) a little short essay to further explore these ideas.
Why are you hitting the driver?
I was teeing off on the 10th hole of my home course, a par-4 of 380 yards. It's not a particularly difficult hole from the tee, so the driver is the right strategic game in my opinion.
One of my play partners suggested that since the other group member and I can hit our drivers (relative to him) so far, there was no reason to use them. He thought it was a mistake and that we should lie back because the hole has an unusually green complex.
Years ago I would probably have agreed with him. Much of the popular strategic wisdom has been to avoid hitting the driver where you "don't have to" and play for safety off the tee as much as possible with a shorter club.
But armed with everything I've learned over the past 5 years, I know that driver gives me the best shot at getting the lowest score on the hole in the long run.
I was not interested in arguing with him at this point as we enjoyed our round; I replied, "golf is a game of closeness." I then hit a 300-foot ride down the middle, hit my wedge to about 8 feet, and missed the birdie putt for a routine par.
If we had more time I would tell him to read these two articles, but it sounded like he was determined:
Driver vs. 3-Wood off the tee: what is the right decision?
Can a conservative strategy take you off the tee?
In an alternate reality I could have wedged the green and out of bounds. Or I could have laid back to 150 yards, hit him close and made a birdie. But none of those scenarios matter . Playing smart strategically in golf isn't about special events – it's more about stacking the odds in your favor in the long run. We have a better understanding of how scoring takes place and how to make optimal decisions based on math and not just feelings.
Regardless, the exchange brought up an important reminder about golf and how information changes.
It's always been a bad game of phone
I'm sure many of you played some version of the game phone in school as kids. The teacher whispered a word or phrase in a student's ear, and as it worked its way through the circle, it would inevitably change.
Golf is no different. Someone is now reading a swing tip in a magazine or watching a YouTube video and diluting the information to his friends on the range. Usually it does not end well.
Golfers have always found themselves in a loop of bad, incomplete or misleading information. It's one of the reasons I started this site and recently launched the Sweet Spot Podcast with Adam Young.
I don't think I have all the answers, but I am convinced that much of the information I give you on this site will give you a greater chance of improvement. Much of what I do is & # 39; deprogram & # 39; from many of the myths that have been told to me as a junior golfer that many of you have heard over the years.
Keep your head bowed, and smooth swaying is not enough!
At the same time, I have given out a lot of advice that I thought was correct, but new, better research has explained this incorrectly (or perhaps half a truth). I try not to be stubborn and change my communication when necessary.
Nostalgia can be a limiting factor
The hard thing about golf is that there is a lot of nostalgia. And there should be; it is a beautiful game with a rich history. However, if we look at information on improvement many things that have been said in the past are not true.
For example, modern ball flight laws have clarified the correct way to hit a fade or a draw. The way it used to be communicated to players was incorrect. Still, many golfers learned how to make a draw or a fade with the wrong technical advice. But someone like me struggled to hit a fade for years because I had the wrong cue. Now I think golfers have a much better chance of getting it right because we have a much clearer understanding of what curves the ball.
In addition, expressions such as "drive for show and putt for dough" have been updated with much more nuance and precision. But that doesn't stop people from thinking that the reason Jordan Spieth had his dominant stretch in 2015-2016 was all because his putter was so hot (he was arguably the best iron player in the world and rarely got into trouble with his driver)
But because the respect for the past is so strong in golf, I still see a lot of resistance to newer, updated ideas. I even hear it on golf broadcasts every weekend, when former players are still clinging to many of the things they were told when they first started the game decades ago.
Many people frown at a green reading system like Aimpoint when they first hear about the concept (me too). I still hear it mentioned as if it's voodoo magic. But if they took the time to learn it, they would know that it is easy to understand and based on logical science. That's not to say that using a modern method like Aimpoint to read the greens is the only way to do it now; it's just another tool that can help players.
To be clear: I am not stating that all old information is bad . I still think Harvey Penick's Little Red Book is one of the best if not the best golf books ever written. There are certain basics of the game that will never change. What I think is holding back a lot of players is that they are stubbornly sticking to older ideas just because "I learned it that way".
You've never finished learning in this game
To me golf is a bit of a beautiful mystery. I like to learn more about the game and how you can improve. But at the same time, I don't want to overload myself with too many ideas, or worse, spread them among all of you. So I try to filter things out when appropriate and keep it as simple as possible.
So when I tell players to play in the backyard and aim for the most holes in the middle of the green, that advice is rooted in taking tons of data from multiple sources. But it's hard to convince people not to target pins and birdies, because that's how people always thought they would lower their disability.
I think my general plea in this article / essay is not to cling to the past too hard, especially when there is clear evidence that there is a newer, better way to do something in this game. That's how progress works.
At the same time, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still tons of valuable lessons that can be passed down through generations in the wave. I think the hardest thing is to distinguish between the two.
My goal is always to keep digging for all of you and do my best to steer you all in the right direction.