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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Ditch That Driver

I thought I would just randomly open the book Bobby Jones on Golf to see whether I might find some more of the great man's golfing wisdom to share. As seems to always be the case, Bobby did not disappoint.

I opened the book on page 135, the first page of a chapter covering the subject of fairway woods. I think the first paragraph is really worth reading. Bobby wrote:

    "Without overstepping the bounds of proper conservatism, it is possible to say that a good part of the average golfer's difficulty comes from the understandable desire and effort to do more than he can, and nowhere is this more noticeable than in his use of the wood clubs through the green. Time after time, he may be seen diving into formidable rough with a spoon (three wood) in his hand, or hauling out a powerful brassie (two wood, about 13 degrees of loft) to dig a ball out of a cuppy lie--shots the golfer of greater skill and experience would not think of trying. The determination to get length at any cost, to use the strongest club possible, more often than not leads him to exceed his limit. Certainly, the average of his results would be greatly improved if he would make a practice of always using a club with which he could be sure of getting the ball up."

Bobby really captures the sad truth about why so many average players continue to hand in scores in the 90's and above. Their effort to try to do more than they are reasonably capable of leads to big numbers. The first rule when you are in trouble--in deep rough, or with a bad lie--is to get out of trouble; to take a club and choose a shot you know you can hit; not a shot you just hope you can hit. That's the odd thing about many amateurs. We are often woefully bad at sizing up a situation and choosing the right club for the job. We regularly boldly go and try a shot that a pro would never think of trying. Then we wonder at all the double bogeys or worse on our card.

If the nineties shooter learned to play for bogeys, instead of trying to make pars and birdies, he would soon find himself playing in the 80's. Bogeys aren't too bad. It's the dreaded others that kill you; and they are often the result of trying to bite off more than you can chew. It may not be as exciting, but if it's your score you're concerned about, the conservative play--trying for a little less--is almost always the best play.

Speaking of the woods, Bobby also wrote: 

"To be perfectly frank, except for the exceptional case of the man who hits his long shots moderately well and with a fair amount of power but fritters away strokes around the greens, the player who is above the 85 to 90 class has little need for the driver or the brassie of the four-club set. In almost every instance, players of this class have trouble getting the ball up, even from the tee, and they would be wise to drive with the two wood, play their long fairway shots from good lies with the three-wood, and reserve the four-wood (or hybrid) for shots of somewhat shorter range or from tight, unfavorable lies"

And yet the club manufacturers want you to purchase the latest and greatest driver with a 45 inch shaft--whether you can hit it or not. I have a few golfing buddies who continue to reach for the driver when they actually hit their three wood, and in one case his five wood, straighter and farther. It makes no sense, but when you've shelled out two or three hundred bucks for a fancy driver, you want to use it.

I would highly recommend--and, more importantly, Bobby Jones would recommend--that unless you're that guy that can really hit the driver but you throw away your shots closer to the green, that you try for a round or two to resist hitting your driver, choosing the three wood instead. Better yet, leave your driver at home for a couple of rounds. If you don't end up scoring better, I'll eat my shorts.