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  1. #1
    Tour Winner Sweep's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Question Attack or defend?

    I have been playing this great game for 25+ years and throughout most of my golfing "career" I have been stuck between 16 and 18 handicap. I play on a tough golf course but I still believe I have the game to get to say 14. I have a decent swing that in reality should get me to a lower handicap and I confess it frustrates me when I see guys with much worse swings get lower than me with seemingly relative ease. Whilst the vast majority of my rounds get me in buffer or 0.1 back I always seem to do well in any nett eclectic competition, so it seems I have quite a lot of pars and birdies in relation to my handicap.
    Thinking about this today and trying to be realistic on what I have to do to play to 14, I came to the conclusion that I am always going to have at least one double bogey in a round. If I allow myself 2 doubles and rely on 6 pars which is reasonable based on my usual score, that's 4 under off 18 which attains my 14 goal.
    It sounds easy, but it clearly never happens. Maybe because I will usually throw a couple of 7s or 8s into the mix.
    This begs the question, bearing in mind my good eclectic scores and the amount of doubles or worse a typical round returns, am I playing too aggressively? Should I be concentrating on keeping the doubles or worse off my card rather than just trying to get the best score I can on each hole? If so, what does this mean? There seems little point in laying up from 150 yds even if like most 18 cappers I miss 65% of GIR. I know that because of this my chipping must improve and I am working hard on this.
    Sorry for the indulgent post but I think this is an issue faced by a lot of golfers around my standard and I would greatly appreciate any constructive advice.
    intolerance will not be tolerated

  2. #2
    Journeyman Pro Curls's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Re: Attack or defend?

    The issue with playing defensive golf is that if you play for a bogey, a double is so easy to make. Or worse.

    Your attacking golf gets you birdies and pars - that's good!

    Where are the 7s and 8s coming from? Bad drives? Bad psoitions you make worse by trying to win the farm back with a hero shot? Bad chipping followed by 3 putts? If its all of those things, you have a bit to work on. But if its one more than the others that should focus your practice over the winter. It certainly sounds like 14 is attainable, but until you go low, that mental barrier is going to be in the way. Personally I woudn't say changing your natural game is the way forward, when the chips are down you'll revert to whats instinctive, but perhaps there are 3 or 4 holes out there you can acccept bogey on and play safe - as in tee off with a 4 iron, even if they're long par 4s, just keep it down the middle. Yes some will end up doubles, but if that's the worst thing on your card and you can throw in those birdies and pars, you'll be down to 14 nothing surer.
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  3. #3
    Journeyman Pro
    Join Date
    May 2017

    Re: Attack or defend?

    Ben Hogan once said "I always allow myself 2 double bogeys in a round, it's only when I get to 3 that I start to worry"

  4. #4
    Journeyman Pro Bunkermagnet's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Re: Attack or defend?

    I would play to your handicap, and try to manage your shots better. Accept you're an amateur with a handicap, take your medicene when needed and use your shots.
    I have found playing the percentage golf reaps greater rewards than the odd glory success shot.
    Thats what I finally have done, and already got the handicap going in the right direction.
    Forever trying.

  5. #5
    Journeyman Pro
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Re: Attack or defend?

    If your issue is how you approach the round, that's easy to fix.

    Taking your 150 yards out example, i think the important thing is to eliminate the danger given, as you say, missing the green is the likely outcome.

    So if there is danger short but space at the back, take more club to take the danger out of play. If there is danger long, make sure you're not long! If there is danger left, aim right. You get the idea.

    Apply that to all your shots. It's not being defensive, it's reducing the risk of a big score where you can while still attacking the course as much as is sensible.

    My mantra when it come to risk v reward is to weigh up how much of an advantage is obtained by taking the risk against how bad the downside is. Depending on how confident you are of pulling off the shot, knowing whether you should go for it or not is an easy decision.

    As an example, at my old club there is a par 5 c490 yards long with a stream in front of the green. Now, with a good drive, I could reach that in two with a well struck hybrid. However, from that distance out, what's the point in going for it? There's a realistic possibility of putting it in the stream, and even if it does go over, it's not likely to be particularly close to the pin if it's on the green at all (which is unlikely). So lay up is the right choice every time.

    That's quite extreme because the right option is obvious, but you know what I mean!

    However, if you take this approach to how you play already and are hitting it in the clag then you need to work on technique so you can more frequently hit it where you want it to go.

    To be honest, this whole post is just me stating the obvious! It's very hard to know what someone needs to do to improve without seeing them in action.

  6. #6
    Tour Rookie
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Re: Attack or defend?

    Laying up from 150 yards??
    There's very little difference between a 14 and 16 capper tbh.
    I'm not a big fan of the "use your shots" or "I'm allowed 2 doubles, 5 bogeys a round" etc. It sets a very negative mindset, if you think you have "an extra" 18 shots to get round then generally you will use them and your handicap won't get much better, as you're discovering. Try and convince yourself you need to par every hole and do your absolute utmost to do it.
    Obviously there will be times where you need to take your medicine but altering the mindset would be a big step forward IMO.

  7. #7
    Major Champion Foxholer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Wasting away again in Margaritaville

    Re: Attack or defend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweep View Post
    ...Should I be concentrating on keeping the doubles or worse off my card rather than just trying to get the best score I can on each hole? If so, what does this mean? There seems little point in laying up from 150 yds even if like most 18 cappers I miss 65% of GIR. I know that because of this my chipping must improve and I am working hard on this....
    When the guys who play for their livelihood are doing exactly what you are considering, then it makes sense to also consider it!

    If your Eclectic ranking is much better than your General ranking, it indicates that consistency IS a 'problem'

    Seems it's your medium-short game, with emphasis on accuracy, that you should be practicing on the range! Increasing your consistency/accuracy from 150 in is essential for the improvement you are envisaging! Laying up from that distance should only be 'last resort' measure. And for each range session, 3 sessions of focussed very short game practice is recommended!

    Each 'major' handicap reduction effort requires a slightly different focus - without neglecting the work that has gone before!

    The alternative is to simply accept the current situation - including the frustration of potential improvement being hampered by other demands!
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  8. #8
    Assistant Pro HampshireHog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017

    Re: Attack or defend?

    As Canary_Yellow says course management. Don't take on shots you don't feel you can make. Let's say I have long approach needing a wood or hybrid and I am running onto the green between bunkers, percentage wise I don't hit the green that often, I'm either in the trap or behind it. For me a mid iron and wedge will get me nearer the hole more often. That's not to say I never take it on sometimes if I flush a drive to the perfect position.

    Take your medicine out of fairway bunkers and long rough.
    Handicap: 12 > 11

  9. #9
    Ryder Cup Winner FairwayDodger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Re: Attack or defend?

    Big thing that improved my score was (almost) eliminating double bogeys. I was very guilty of trying to pull off a hero shot to rescue par after a bad shot - often attempting shots that I never practiced and, frankly, just couldn't play. Sometimes just playing an aggressive shot to get close to a sucker pin.

    Now when I get out of position one of the things I tell myself is "don't turn a bogey into a double". For example, you might have a very challenging shot out of a horrible spot to a green with a world of trouble around it, but a (relatively) simple layup to just short of the green that would still leave a chip and putt for par but very little chance of the double.

    OK, sometimes you still fancy the shot and take it on, and sometimes the situation demands it but it's important not to throw away shots needlessly - especially off a handicap that you only need a handful of pars to break if you cut out the disaster holes.

  10. #10
    Hall of Famer HomerJSimpson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Bracknell - Berkshire

    Re: Attack or defend?

    Very little difference between 16 and 14 and I think you need to simply have a game plan for each hole based on how you're playing on the day and the conditions. I have worked hard on my wedges and so my preferred lay up would be 80-100 yards. If you can improve the pitching, bunkers and chipping it takes a lot of pressure off

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