In my last blog post I discussed how knowing a little bit about the superintendent and his management strategies could help your game. Or at the very least, possibly promote better conditions at your local golf course. This time around I want to make subtle observations that will assist your golf game.
As a superintendent that is constantly trying to improve conditions, I recently made an interesting observation. When I check sand depths of bunkers, by far and large, the bunkers in front of the green need more maintenance and see more traffic. Most of the time after a large weekend event the bunkers behind the green are untouched, even if the pin position was located on the back portion of the green. While the bunkers in front of the green should see slightly more traffic, it shouldn’t be overwhelming. When sending greens mowers out in the morning, more emphasis is placed on the front portions of the greens when repairing unfixed or improperly fixed ballmarks. The reason behind these maintenance practices is that a majority of golfers are not truthful with their distances.
The average driving distance figured out by the R&A in 2012 was 208 yards. A majority of golfers will say that their driving distance is 250+. Let me provide you with another interesting observation. It is quite rare for there to be a large population of golf balls on or past our 250 yard green on the range and a majority of the golf balls on the range are picked SHORT of the target greens. Even during practice golfers are not truthful with their distances with every club, not just their driver! If you are reading this and you do not have a notebook or a piece of paper in your golf bag that has your CORRECT club distances then I am talking to you. Next time you play golf lets count the number of times you are short of the flag more than one club length (i.e. 10 yards or so).
Let’s eliminate your problem with bunkers by carrying the ball over them. Let’s limit 3 putts during a round by not having putts 40 feet short of the flag. Let’s turn your least favorite hole (the signature hole with the glistening lake just in front of the green) into one of your favorites. Let’s turn triple digits in double digits or 90s into 80s. This idea is not just for consistent ball strikers and tour level golfers, everybody has a forced carry over a lake at some point in their rounds and they know exactly what club to pull to perfectly clear the water hazard by -5 yards. Trust me, I see the golf balls when the diver pulls them out of the lake.
Next time you are out there, do me a favor, and carry the bunker (or lake) in front of the green and put all the ball marks pin high because you hit the right club. Just remember a perfectly hit club that is one club short will still land in the lake (it will just look good doing it). If you are unsure of how to dial in your yardages just mark down on the score card what club you hit and whether you were short, long, or pin high. After a round or 2 you will have a good starting point for your distances. If this seems overwhelming, you could consult your local PGA professional and they could get your average distances dialed in and assist you in making your distances more clear. You owe it to your golf game and you definitely will enjoy golf more.