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Knight Rider
07 May 14 19:08
Date Joined: 22 Jun 02
| Topic/replies: 7,474 | Blogger: Knight Rider's blog
Thought I'd ask some of the low hcap golfers on here, how do you go about missing in the right places?  I've got to the point where I'm a decent ball-striker but still struggling to put good scores together and have only broken 80 once which was two years ago now.  Really thought I would have kicked on since then.

Obviously short game is important and I'm practising hard on that but my course management needs work and I was wondering when people talk about missing in the right place, how do you do that exactly?  Is it just about aiming for the less dangerous side of the green/fairway?  Is it about learning to work the ball both ways so for example of there is water right you can start it way left and fade it back?  At the moment I generally just aim to hit a good shot and if I mishit it then I have no control over whether it's left, right, long or short.

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Report marychain1 May 7, 2014 8:33 PM BST
I'm not a golfer by any means (I did once get a birdie on a par 3) but I always assumed course management and missing in the right places meant if you've got a bunker on one side of the green (upslope to hole, should be able to get up and down fairly easily) and you've got thick rough on the other side of the green (downslope too, go in there and its curtains) you might aim for halfway between the hole and the bunker.

That way, if you hit it perfectly straight you are on the green halfway between the hole and the bunker (fine), hit it a bit towards the hole even better but worse case scenario is hitting it in the bunker you can get up and down from.

That's my interpretation anyway. And I did also once get a par on a par 5.
Report mexicano May 7, 2014 10:44 PM BST
i think the majority of handicap golfers havent got the game to miss it on the right side,with such players course management is about keeping away from the dangerous parts of the course, but as you say when they go for the green they can miss either side.

i play quite regularly with an ex pro who's regained his amatuer status and plays of plus 2 , and watching him he will always aim at the side of the green that he dosent mind missing,whilst trying to work it into the middle of the green.rarely misses on the "wrong side"
Report trebor May 8, 2014 2:19 AM BST
KR.... Your question has reminded me of probably the first golf book I ever got, it was by Arnold Palmer and called Golf Tactics, it showed how 3 golfers of different ability would best play an imaginary round of golf, each hole was viewed from above very much like shot tracker does now, that was back in the early 70's.

I would say you are correct about learning to hit the ball both ways, after all the hardest shot to hit is a straight one, but more damaging is the fact that if you are trying to hit a straight shot you are less likely to know which way the bad shot is likely to go, could be right or left?
As mexicano says his friend aims at the safe side and moves it towards the pin, Nicklaus would more often aim at the centre of the green and move it towards the pin, at least that way his 'double cross' could finish in the centre of the green.
I personally prefer the Nicklaus approach because I was a terrible pitcher of the ball, and if I got it wrong using the Nicklaus method I had more of a chance that I would be putting after an indifferent shot rather than pitching.

It's all very well of me saying just move the ball this way or that, I was very lucky when I started playing golf that I had lessons from day one, was never allowed to get into too many bad habits and in the end was able to hit it both ways, the biggest thing that worked in my favour tho was the fact I detested a slice, or even a small fade, it meant that over the formative years of my swing I developed a draw, well a hook really but it was far better than a slice in my mind.
The reason for telling you that is it is far easier to hit a fade with a bit of practice if your normal shape is a draw, and much more difficult to teach a left to right player to draw the ball.

If you are playing with just the one shape I would just work with it, better than trying to play a shot that you can't hit 9 times out of 10, there are not too many holes where you cant get to the centre of the green with your favoured shape.

I always found the John Jacobs Golf Doctor dvd's (video's then) really good, they seem so basic but the information is put across so well, bit dated nowadays I guess but explains how to hit many different shot shapes.

I started playing golf at the age of 15, the lessons where a birthday present, and like you with the breaking 80 I can remember not being able to break 90, I would keep messing it up, I had my Arnold Palmer Tactics book and planed out every hole on my course in the same way, then one day I finally broke 90, I shot a 77!! mental barrier broken, am sure the same will happen for yourself and your second sub 80.

Just found that book
Report Knight Rider May 8, 2014 2:43 AM BST
Thanks for the replies guys.  My stock shot is a draw; I can move it both ways e.g. when bending it round a tree, but I would never fancy fading the ball with confidence.  The banana slice is always a possibility as is the double-cross pull.

I think what I probably need to do is just play some really boring golf.  If there's water right, aim left.  If the pin is at the back, aim for the front of the green, and so forth.  In theory if I don't lose any balls, and get up and around every green in regulation on the 'easy' side, I can't shoot worse than bogey on any hole and if I 2-putt or get up & down more often than not I should be shooting in the 70s regularly.

Will let you know how I get on!
Report padlock May 8, 2014 10:09 AM BST
approach shots to green are the real score savers,try to hit to the bigger area of green that involves less risk and try leaving yourself uphill putts
Report Kelly May 8, 2014 11:13 AM BST
Would not classify myself as low handicap , but I seldom ever got into difficulties in the course of a round .  The concept of scoring over 6 on any hole would be foreign to me .

Anyone with a basic swing involving a draw will always be subject to the possibility of running up a big score on a hole . Reason being that a drawn shot involves overspin which means the ball on pitching will do its own thing , whereas a fade lands softly and behaves itself generally . One of the reasons that Monty and Jack were so consistent , they tended to land the ball softly on the green .

If you listen to Jack over the years , his course management was second to none , and he seldom made mistakes down the stretch . 18 majors and 19 second place majors is testimony to that . Middle of the green was his mantra in the Majors , and most golfers would do well to imprint that in their minds .  There are more and more upturned saucer like greens in course design these days , I do not like courses which throw the ball away from the hole on a straight approach shot , but there are more and more courses becoming like that .

For most handicap golfers , hitting the percentage shot would generally improve their scoring ability , leave the fancy dan shots to Phil and the like .
Report Total Bosman May 8, 2014 12:06 PM BST
Let's look at what we now know about KR:  likes a punt, and has a hefty bankroll to do it with.  Plays a bit of golf, but has no idea about course management.

You're Phil Mickelson, aren't you?
Report Ski-Wiz May 8, 2014 1:17 PM BST

May 8, 2014 -- 10:09AM, padlock wrote:

approach shots to green are the real score savers,try to hit to the bigger area of green that involves less risk and try leaving yourself uphill putts

Agree with this.....approach shot is more difficult than the tee shot. Get your approach shot to over 10 GIR and the rest as near as the green as possible then avoid 3 putts and get more than 50% up and downs. You will get into the 70's.

Report Hank Hill May 8, 2014 1:32 PM BST
TB Laugh
Report Knight Rider May 8, 2014 4:42 PM BST
I wish I had Phil's bankroll TB!!
Report Mighty Whites 2008 May 8, 2014 7:05 PM BST
Without seeing you play and knowing how you rack up a score it is hard to comment on your game however i will try if you can give me some more information.

You say you are a decent ball striker how would you define that?
How many fairways a round do you hit?
How far can you hit a driver & a seven iron?
How many greens can you hit in regulation on an average round?
How many putts ddo you average a round?
How often do you two putt from 30 feet plus?
How good are you from 3 feet? 6feet? 10 feet?
What is your short game like?

I think you are way over complicating things. To break 80 shouldn't be too difficult if you are a decent ball striker you just need to work on other aspects of your game.

Ive been category one for over twenty years and can't shape the ball both ways at will. I have a stock shot that i practise and refine.

Breaking 80 on a par 72 course requires 11 pars and 7 bogeys. Easier said than done but in reality that is all it is. When i play with 10 - 18 handicap golfers the biggest problem in their game is course management. They frequently compound errors and rack up doubles triples and others ruining their round.

If you want to break 80 and you havent got a massive problem with direction then it comes down to course management and working on your short game and putting.

The three key factors for me would be  1 course management. When you get in trouble take your medicine. E.g. when you hit it in the trees find the safest route out back in to play even if that means coming out side ways. When you are in the nasty rough take a club you can safely get back in to play. The safe miss is more the sensible shot. If you have a pin front right with a trap covering it then take enough club and play for the middle of the green. So often I see people play the wonder shot dump it in the bunker and make a bogey or double. Play aggressive to conservative targets.

2. Know your game. How far do you hit the ball at 80% effort. A smooth swing when you are not forcing it is better than a full out blast. What are your strengths and weaknesses e.g do you hit in play off the tee? how often do you hit the green? How often do you get up and down? What is your putting like? What ever is the weakest area work on it.

3. Practice your game from 40 yards and in. If you can get around a green in two then it is about your short game. Play the percentages and work on your putting.

The key for golf at amateur level isnt how good your good shots are it is how bad your bad ones are. If you can manage your bad shots then your score will improve.
Report Total Bosman May 8, 2014 7:11 PM BST
Maybe KR, but I bet you wouldn't swap for his P&L...
Report NORTH BERWICK May 8, 2014 7:48 PM BST
Mighty white i agree with everything you wrote. An excellent piece that all high handicappers would do well to read over and over again.
Report saxon farm May 8, 2014 8:15 PM BST
Mighty Whites ^

Absolutely spot on, and very well articulated.
Report RacingCert May 9, 2014 10:48 AM BST
Plenty of good advice there. I would add though,more to the point on missing in the right places, would be to ask yourself when playing an approach shot whether you are playing to a "sucker pin". Miss on the wrong side and maybe you are left with a downhill, downwind shot with little green to work with and you're looking at 2 chips before you putt. We have one hole at our place where if it's dry you've no chance of stopping a ball.
Report RacingCert May 9, 2014 10:51 AM BST
Not posted for ages forgot if you press return it posts.
It is frustrating if you play cautiously and hit the perfect shot that would have ended next to the pin if you'd aimed there but also you can get lucky and a cautious one can also end up close.
However you're probably only going to have 3 or 4 sucker pins each round so I think choose your battles is the best way.
Report sewter lives again May 9, 2014 3:47 PM BST
Mighty Whites has given you some sound advice

Here are a few things that I would add.

Using the Jack Nicklaus example I have one of his books where he insists that no golfer should attempt a shot they cant make at least 7 out of 10 times.
The obvious exception being where you HAVE to make a shot (eg Matchplay).

To understand course management better try playing a round with a pro or single figure handicapper where they hold your bag and THEY select your clubs and shot. To explain this point we have a lad in our club who hits it miles, but is still playing off 18. He was moaning about this point and the club pro said he would take him out for a round and do the club selection-the result was a round of 72 off the yellow tees (par is 66).

From a personal point of view until Xmas I was struggling with my golf, and up to 12 handicap. Advancing years and bad back were taking their toll.
The main problem for me was my macho insistence that i could still hit a 7 iron about 155-160 yards. I looked at my golf and realized I hadn't hit a single approach shot "long" for about a year!! Clubbing up significantly has considerably improved my golf, winning the winter league and now really looking forward to some summer golf.
Report NorwichRob May 9, 2014 4:48 PM BST
KR, Jack always advised to take one side of the course out of play to reduce the error margin, which is fine for tour players, for yourself i'd advise to just enjoy your game by giving it a blast and not focus on the negatives of missing greens, just don't underclub going to greens and give each putt a're out there to enjoy yourself after all!
Report kincsem May 9, 2014 4:51 PM BST
My uncle was a 5 handicap in the 1970s.  It was a lesson watching him play.  He drove the ball about 200 yards but was happy to hit it shorter.
The thing I learned from him is to assess the situation from where you are.  Say you only hit your drive 150 yards into rough and have 250 yards to the green.
He would play hit an iron about 150 yards into the middle of the fairway leaving 100 yards.  His short iron from 100 yards would be on the green leaving a par putt.
He said good golf was three good shots in a row.

The other type of player was my nephew.  He once hit it about 200 yards left into rough on a left dogleg 550 yard par five.
He used a 3 wood for his next half dozen shots, aiming straight for the green over 300 yards of rough, trying the hit the green 350 yards away.
Report NORTH BERWICK May 9, 2014 6:59 PM BST
I played a high handicapper at matchplay once giving him a few shots. He got into the rough on the 2nd and out came the 3 wood. As soon as i saw the 3 wood i knew i would win easily. If he had chipped it back on the fairway and had a decent short game i would have been worried.
Report Wok May 10, 2014 12:40 AM BST
Lots of good and solid advice. May I add to the thread.

To my observation the difference between a 10-ish handicapper and a 5-ish handicapper is less to do with ball striking skills and short game, and more to do with attitude, course management and being sensible and objective. Once you can shoot around 90 the game is pretty much 50% mental, and the better players seem able to just play the game better.
As someone taking up the game later in life (was past mid 40's), I knew I couldnt ever have a great short game, or hit the ball real long, so tried to develop at least decent ball striking skills, and play the game smartly. Have had a Cat 1 handicap for 10 years.
Played with a lot of really good golfers, far, far better than me, and I there wasnt one that didnt have a really good mental game.
So I would urge KR to work on these aspects as much as the actual ball skills part of the game. And after all, it really is easier to think sensibly than to learn to hit the ball better!
Report stewardsenquirey May 10, 2014 6:14 AM BST
Shoddy 16 handicapper signing in.
But I went Eagle,Eagle,Birdie on Par 72 the other year(Shot a 69)
My claim to fame for me. I did something that most Scratch Golfers will never achieve.
Anything is possible.Low handicappers do it week in week out,meanwhile hackers like me have to hijack a thread on Betfair Shocked
I realise this doesn't really help your original question KR,but I just like blowing my own trumpet Silly
Report donny osmond May 10, 2014 11:39 AM BST
loads of good advice above

one thing that helped me was a tip from johnny millers pure golf book

that was to visualise your shot before you hit it

i suppose its positive thinking too,

think you are going to hit a good shot and you may well do

of course the above great advice still applies ...
Report dave1357 May 10, 2014 1:30 PM BST
As others have said the "missing in the right place" is really a low handicap consideration.  You need to have a good short game for it to be important.  If you are as likely to three putt from the "safe" side of the green as chip and two putt when missing on the "wrong" side, then the best plan is to aim for the centre of the green all the time.

The exception would be imo if you have a good touch on long putts and chip and runs, then it would make sense to aim at the side further from the pin most of the time.
Report NORTH BERWICK May 10, 2014 6:29 PM BST
I always think that the nearer the hole you are the more important the shot. But its difficult to get a low score unless you drive the ball well. When chipping always have your hands ahead of the ball and try to work out where you want the ball to land on or near the green. You obviously have to take into consideration the club you are using and the trajectory of the ball as it lands on the green. If youve worked it out right and landed it where you want to it should just roll up to the pin. You can use 7, 8,9.PW or SW it doesnt matter so long as you land it in the right place for the trajectory of the ball.
Report Knight Rider May 10, 2014 9:51 PM BST
Don't want to get too excited but I have played one round since starting this thread and I shot 6 over 78 in tough conditions!  Despite taking a triple on the 3rd (drove into water, penalty drop, approach right of green, first chip hit a tree branch, second chip duffed).

One thing that did amaze me is despite aiming at the middle of most greens I actually ended up with more good birdie looks than I can ever remember having.  Made three birdies and had about 4 others that shaved the edge.  I guess we have to be realistic with ourselves, if you aren't a tour pro how often do you actually get it close to the hole from outside 100 yards?  Much better to have a series of birdie putts from 20 feet or so, than waiting for that once-every-5-rounds perfect shot that results in a tap in while having loads that miss on the wrong side resulting in impossible chips/bunker shots.

As I said, don't want to get too excited as it's just one round and maybe I just played well that day but it feels like something of an epiphany and I actually understand how to play golf now!  Rather than the old me that just pulls out driver on every tee and aims down the middle, then gets the range finder out and fires at every pin.  We will see if continues next time...
Report padlock May 10, 2014 10:17 PM BST
amazing how good course management lowers scores,keep it up
Report NORTH BERWICK May 11, 2014 9:27 AM BST
Well done KR. The most important club in the bag is between the golfers ears. Keep it up.
Report Wok May 11, 2014 11:02 AM BST
Good man KR. If you can shoot sub-80 in tough conditions you have all the game you need to be a good player. Just dont expect to do it every time, or get down on yourself if you do have a bad round.
You'll also learn the black art of damage limitation, as you improve that triple you took will become a double or just a bogey.
Report Ski-Wiz May 11, 2014 12:31 PM BST
Another way of lowering your scores.

Play after the local boy junior championship, on the same day.

I did that once and was amazed that all the flags where on the easiest part of the greens. Got 10 over, normally at that time 20 over.
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