Rethinking "Bad" Shots: How To Constructively Evaluate Your Rounds

Posted by on January 19, 2021  /   Posted in golf tips

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The most valuable exercise for a golfer is hindsight analysis. The clues for how to improve your game, and more importantly, how to enjoy more, are all hidden in your memory.

In this article I want to investigate "bad shots". I'm going to use quotes because I'm going to explain various concepts and questions you can ask yourself that will likely redefine how you classify the outcomes of certain shots during your round. You may realize that the shots weren't even "bad" in the first place, or maybe if they were, an analysis of why they happened can help narrow them down in the future.

Was the shot even bad?

Before we move on to other questions, you should ask yourself, let's see if it was a bad result at all. Perhaps the biggest challenge we all face as golfers is how we interpret our results. In general, most players are too hard on themselves and get angry with shots that aren't so bad (guilty as charged).

If you do a retrospective analysis and look at your results from an analytical (rather than emotional) perspective, I think you'll find that many of the results on your round are not "bad" goods.

This can get complicated, but I'll explore a few examples of tee shots and approach shots to give you an idea.

Tee Shots – It's Not A Fairway Or Bust

Golfers assume that the yardstick of a successful tee shot is whether you hit a fairway or not. I always thought this too. But with modern statistical analysis, we know a lot more about which types of tee shots lead to lower scores.

Based on everything I've learned, here's how I define a successful tee shot:

You have avoided a fairway bunker, penalty area or recovery situation (i.e. getting blocked by trees). In other words, you have a manageable lie and a clear path to the green .
You hit your tee shot at an acceptable distance. For example, if your average ride is usually 240 meters, it is reasonable to keep it within a 10-20 meter window of that distance.

That's it!

Tee shots are crucial to golf scoring, and perhaps the greatest challenge golfers must overcome is to avoid penalties and recovery situations .

Continue reading:

Fairways hit is an incomplete statistic

Driver vs. 3-Wood off the tee: what's the right decision?

Iron vs. Driver Off The Tee: Can A Conservative Strategy Cost You Succeeds?

Approach Shots

I have previously written about how, according to the regulations, getting more greens is the gold standard for lowering your handicap. In general, your approach shots are the most influential factor in scoring .

That doesn't mean you have to land the ball within 6 meters of the pin every time; no one in the world can do that. If we want to define how a & # 39; bad & # 39; approach shot looks and a & # 39; good & # 39; shot, this has a lot to do with the proximity of the hole and the avoidance of certain situations.

Here are a few statistics that I define as good results for approach shots:

You are on the well surface . Even if you were 14 feet from the hole you did a great job!
You missed the green, but your ball is still within "short" range. If you have a 20-30 yard wedge shot you increase your chances of placing a lower score on the hole compared to a distance of 50-70 yards.
You are not short-sided . You have a lot of space between yourself and the pin, which puts less pressure on your wedge shot.
You have avoided a bunker or penalty / recovery situation that makes it difficult to get your ball onto the putting surface.

Continue reading:

Why Iron Play is So Important for Scoring Potential

Was it in your shot pattern?

Another thing to consider is what reasonable bulkhead divisions are for every club in your bag. This concept builds on the last section.

For example, most PGA Tour players and elite amateurs have a left-to-right spread between 65 and 70 meters with their drivers. So while it might be disappointing for them to land the ball 40 yards to the right of the center of the fairway, it's a perfectly normal result.

In approach play, where distance control is more important, you have to think about the left-to-right distribution and the short and long distance of your target. What you end up with is what I call a & # 39; circle of closeness & # 39; would call. Better players have tighter circles, but they are still much bigger than most people think.

Here are the average distances per club for golfers using Shot Scope's tracking system

Whatever target you have chosen with your 7 iron, it is only a starting point. Please consider what your stroke circle looks like and whether or not you have kept the ball within its limits. This is where shot tracking systems can come in handy.

Continue reading:

You don't have as much control over the golf ball as you think

Have you made a strategic mistake?

Suppose you landed your tee shot in the trees or you were shot in a bunker while having a short side. We can describe this as a bad outcome, but maybe your swing was not the culprit.

I have been debating strategy about Practical Golf for good reason. Golfers can make a quick profit if they learn how to select smarter targets.

Maybe that tee shot went into the trees because you were trying to get an advantageous corner on the green and you were taking a more aggressive line. Or your 7 iron landed in the bunker because you were hunting for a hidden pin position.

As you go through your post-round analysis, you should ask yourself if a bad strategic decision caused the error. Could you have avoided the recovery situation by simply changing your target and club squad?

If you'd like to learn more about how to become a smarter course manager, I highly recommend checking out DECADE Foundations.

Was your mind to blame?

Controlling our thoughts and emotions on the golf course is difficult. But I can tell you from personal experience that going through a repeatable routine makes a difference, sticking to your decision, and doing your best not to worry about what has already happened or will happen in your round .

So if you look back at shots that fit our definition of bad, start evaluating your emotions.

Were you angry about a previous recording and couldn't clear your head? Have you had any doubts about your club choice? Did your score on the first nine dominate your thoughts?

While it is challenging to fully determine whether your thought process contributed to a bad outcome, you can look for patterns. If your post-round analysis shows that your mental state is related to your worst shots, that's something you need to work on.

Is it a technical problem in your swing?

You can pick the right target, commit yourself mentally to your routine, and do pretty much everything else correctly, but then take a ride that goes too far. This is perhaps the most frustrating part of golf.

More often than not, many of your faulty shots cause problems with your golf swing. Unfortunately, I cannot help you with that. And I also don't recommend watching 50 YouTube videos.

You may be able to tackle the problem with practice. When I watch my rounds, I try to think about which parts of my game were flawed and spend extra time on them during my next range session.

Sometimes, however, the problem is deeper. I have interacted with many golfers reading Practical Golf who get stuck in their journey to improvement despite following much of the advice they read here. My suggestion is usually quite similar: "you should invest in lessons."

Getting advice tailored to your swing and following the prescribed drills / exercise plans is one of the most efficient ways to get better at this game. I have worked with 4-5 different swing coaches at different times in my life and have had positive results with every experience.

That's not to say you can't figure things out on your own – some golfers can improve through trial and error and smart exercise habits. However, if you're really struggling, it's best to have someone who knows what he's doing to watch your swing (definitely not "that guy" on the range).


As usual, my goal with these types of articles is to make you think differently. I know from my own experience what it is like to get into a negative loop. As you go through your rounds and start thinking critically about what happens with a new perspective, a few things can happen:

You realize that things are not as bad as they seem
There may be some minor adjustments you can make to store strokes
You can sharpen the core problems in your game and possibly find help to solve them

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