Thursday, June 21, 2007

"How to break 80" is not as simple as it looks

In a previous post I brought to light the theories of Dr. Lucius Riccio on how to break 80. To recap, the theory is: the more greens hit in regulation, the lower your score. Through his Pelzesque statistical analysis of all golfers, he determined that the minimum greens hit required to break 80 is 8. Here is Riccio's greens-hit-to-score chart:

Riccio also admits to the importance of putting. Like GIRs, there are a maximum number of allowable putts to make if 80 is to be broken, thusly:

Lastly, Riccio puts the two charts together to show the maximum number of putts allowable to break 80 if you hit over or under the required number of greens:

So, if you can hit 13 greens, you aren't required to putt any better than your average squirrel. However, if you hit only 4 greens, you'll have to putt better than the best PGA pro.

All these numbers would lead one to believe that approach shots are all important to breaking 80, which is true--if you can't hit the green from 160 yards and closer, you're going to have a long day. But what the numbers are actually saying is that playing very conservatively is what matters. For instance, on a 400 yard hole, what good is a 300 yard drive if it's in the trees without a look at the green? According to Riccio's analysis, you'd be better served to hit a 240 3-wood into the middle of the fairway and take your shot from there. Each hole will require a different conservative plan, which might go as far to play the long par-4s--blasphemy!--as bogey holes, and leave your 8 GIRs to easier holes. This all goes back to Dave Pelz's "Short Game Bible" conclusions, which is that the best scoring players are the best wedgers--at the professional level. What Pelz doesn't consider is that at the amateur level, say, 15 handicap and below, it can't be assumed a player's full-swing shots are going to have the standard 8% accuracy variation. With me and the guys I play with, our tee shots hit the intended target about 50% of the time, which is a serious fly in the Pelz ointment.

Riccio and Pelz are both correct, but what they don't say is just as important for good golf.


darksiderollerchick said...

thats funny: "all you have to do to break 80 is hit it in the middle and putt well".
solid advice.

Bruce said...

Or, if you are like me who was consistantly in the 90's, you could try reading, How to break 80. Sound advice and simple too. I am now in the lower 80's.

Enjoy it!

ParHunter said...

There is one important advice missing: Don't triple bogey your non-GIR ;-)
I had 7 GIR and took 28 putts this weekend which according to the blog should have gotten me to under 80. And it would have if I hadn't triple bogeyed the last hole :-(

So GIR and putting well is all very important but IMHO avoiding costly errors is even more important. You can have 17 good holes but ruin it all with one horror hole.