WE CAN ALL BE MORE AC­CU­RATE

PGA Tour stats ex­pert Mark Broadie re­veals why your mid and short irons are the most im­por­tant clubs in your bag

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS - WORDS STU­ART HOOD

PGA Tour stats ex­pert Mark Broadie ex­plains why your mid and short irons are the most im­por­tant clubs in your bag; hit these well and your scores will plum­met.

Ham­mer­ing a 300-yard drive might make you feel like a pro, and curl­ing home a 20-footer might give you a mas­sive rush of adren­a­line. But when it comes to con­sis­tently lower scores, the area you re­ally need to fo­cus on is your iron play.

“If you study the 10 shots that sep­a­rate a golfer who reg­u­larly shoots 80 and a golfer who reg­u­larly shoots 90, you dis­cover that be­tween 40-45 per­cent of the scor­ing dier­ence comes from the qual­ity of their ap­proach play,” re­veals lead­ing golf statis­ti­cian Pro­fes­sor Mark Broadie.

“A lot of peo­ple find this sur­pris­ing, but it is the same through­out all the skill lev­els. Whether you are a top Tour pro­fes­sional or some­one who shoots 100, the area that has the most im­pact on your av­er­age score is not your driv­ing, short game or putting. It is your shots into the green.”

2017 Open Cham­pion Jor­dan Spi­eth is a great ex­am­ple of this. Yes, he never seems to miss an im­por­tant putt. Yes, he has a stun­ning short game. And yes, he is a fan­tas­tic course man­ager. But if you delve into his sta­tis­tics you soon dis­cover that the big­gest change be­tween his OK-but-not-fan­tas­tic 2016 and his Ma­jor-win­ning 2017 was the stan­dard of his iron play. In 2016, he gained 0.145 strokes per round with his ap­proach shots and hit 63.52 per­cent of greens in reg­u­la­tion, to lie 87th in the PGA Tour’s Strokes Gained with Ap­proach Shots cat­e­gory and 145th in the PGA Tour’s GIR statis­tic. Last sea­son, he gained 0.906 strokes per round with his ap­proach shots and hit 70.01 per­cent of greens in reg­u­la­tion, to rank 1st in the PGA Tour’s Strokes Gained with Ap­proach Shots cat­e­gory and fourth in the PGA Tour’s Greens in Reg­u­la­tion statis­tic. “This is one of the big­gest things Jor­dan has turned around and it fol­lows the sta­tis­ti­cal pat­tern of pre­vi­ous sea­sons,” Broadie tells us. “When­ever you com­pare the earnings of top-10

“THE AREA THAT HAS THE MOST IM­PACT ON YOUR AV­ER­AGE SCORE IS NOT YOUR DRIV­ING, SHORT GAME OR PUTTING. IT IS YOUR SHOTS INTO THE GREEN.” – MARK BROADIE

“IF YOU WANT TO CUT YOUR HAND­I­CAP YOU NEED TO DIAL IN YOUR 7-, 8- AND 9-IRONS”

play­ers in the PGA Tour’s Strokes Gained Driv­ing, Strokes Gained with Ap­proach Shots, Strokes Gained Around the Green and Strokes Gained Putting cat­e­gories, you al­ways find that the lead­ers in the Strokes Gained from Ap­proach Shots statis­tic have taken home the most money.”

So does this mean the whole ‘putt for dough’ adage is a myth? Yes. Well. Um. It’s com­pli­cated, so we will let the pro­fes­sor ex­plain. “In gen­eral, golf tour­na­ments are won by the player on the leader­board who putts the best,” says Broadie. “But to get your name on to the leader­board you need to be hit­ting your ap­proach shots well. And this is why, if I had to give a mid or high-hand­i­cap golfer one piece of ad­vice it would be to work on be­com­ing more ac­cu­rate from 100-150 yards.” That’s right, folks. For­get chip­ping from dawn un­til dusk or beat­ing balls with your metal woods, hy­brids or long irons. Ac­cord­ing to golf’s lead­ing data ex­pert, if you want to slash your hand­i­cap quickly the clubs you need to dial in are your 7-, 8- and 9-irons.

“The di‘er­ence in golfers’ av­er­age per­for­mance sta­tis­tics from 150 yards is as­tound­ing,” adds Broadie. “From this dis­tance in the fair­way, the best pros put half their shots within 21 feet of the hole, av­er­age pro­fes­sion­als put half of their shots within 23 feet of the hole. Golfers who av­er­age 80 put half of their shots within 42 feet of the hole. Golfers who av­er­age 90 put half of their shots within 56 feet of the hole. And golfers who av­er­age 100 put half of their shots within 70 feet of the hole. These are enor­mous di‘er­ences that o‘er a big op­por­tu­nity. If you can get your 7- or 8-irons 10 to 15 feet closer to the hole, then you can quickly take a cou­ple of shots o‘ your game.” While ex­tremely ex­cit­ing, the above is per­haps a tad labour in­ten­sive for some week­end golfers. Thank­fully, Pro­fes­sor Broadie has an al­ter­na­tive per­for­mance met­ric for those who aren’t sali­vat­ing at the prospect of con­tin­u­ally pac­ing out the dis­tance from their ball to the cup.

“Work on hit­ting the green in one shot from be­tween 100 and 150 yards,” ad­vises Broadie. “The data I’ve gath­ered on shots hit from the fair­way be­tween these dis­tances shows the fol­low­ing. Golfers who av­er­age 80 hit the green 63 per­cent of the time. Golfers who av­er­age 90 hit the green 47 per­cent of the time. And golfers who av­er­age 100 hit the green 35 per­cent of the time. Again, these are huge vari­a­tions that high­light the ma­jor scor­ing im­prove­ments you can make by hit­ting just two or three more greens.”

Got that? Great, then what are you wait­ing for? Grab your clubs, get out there, dial in your mid and short irons and pre­pare to give your­self a chance of win­ning this week­end.

Get shorty Get to love your 7-iron down, be­cause they are key to scor­ing well.

Big strength Jor­dan Spi­eth was No.1 in the PGA Tour’s Strokes Gained from ap­proaches in 2017.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.