26 June 2022
One of the most under-rated and most difficult aspects of golf is decision making. It’s a tricky balance to maintain between practicing your swing, practicing on the course, and practicing your decision-making process. And I can bet you probably don’t do much work on the latter. But why shouldn’t you? The decisions begin as soon as you step onto the first tee, for example, ‘what club do I need here?’ While it might sound simple, if you get this part wrong it can have a massive knock-on effect for subsequent shots.
Well, I’m going to make that decision a little easier for you and tell you that the further you hit it off the tee, the closer you will eventually get to the flag and the lower your score will be! So, when you’re next stuck in the middle between driver or 3 wood… remember the driver is the best club to hit off the tee and here’s why…
Using and understanding Shot Scope data is vital for improvement, and it has allowed us to produce statistics and analysis of parts of the game that we otherwise would know nothing about.
Looking at the table of Average Approach Proximity by Handicap, it is clear to see that no matter your ability it can be a huge benefit to be just 80y away from the green rather than 100y (this can result in 11ft difference in proximity for a 15 handicapper). And when amateur golfers lose around 30y with a 3 wood off the tee rather than a driver, this can make a huge difference for those shorter shots into the green.
What’s more, for the 15 handicappers, is that as soon as you are 150y away from the green rather than 100y the average approach proximity shoots up to 89ft rather than 60ft. No matter how good a putter you might be, chances are you are going to three putt from 89ft quite regularly, and certainly more regularly than from 60ft. And so, what does this tell us? The best club to hit off the tee has to be a driver, if you want your approach proximity to improve, and over time sink more putts.
This difference is exaggerated even more so for your average 25 handicapper as there is an 18ft difference between their proximities from 80y and 100y. Rather than a manageable 59ft away from the hole, you can end up a rather daunting 77ft away! Not only is this difficult to 2 putt, but it can be exhausting if you’re this far away regularly. Unfortunately, it gets worse if you end up 150y away from the green after hitting that 3 wood off the tee. Average proximity from 150y reaches a staggering 119ft away for those of us playing off 25! For reference, that’s 40 yards away from the hole. Now you’re wishing you had hit driver off the tee and finished 100y away to achieve a 77ft proximity.
Naturally, for the players who have mastered most aspects of the game and have reached a scratch handicap, there is a smaller difference in proximity whether they are 80y away or 150y away. From 80y the average proximity is 27ft as opposed to 42ft from 150y. While this may not sound like a big difference, it will become noticeable when there is a lack of birdie chances. If you want to start giving yourself those opportunities, you need to start leaving yourself those shorter putts, which in turn means you need to start hitting it further off the tee.
While it may be daunting, and a little difficult at first, it is important to convince yourself to hit driver off the tee even if it’s uncomfortable. If the fairway is narrow and there’s a bunker on the right-hand side that looks a little too inviting… you must commit. Once you start persuading yourself to do it you will get more comfortable. And once you’re comfortable, you’re more confident. And once you’re more confident, you’ll start hitting the driver much better, and start getting much closer to the green!
One last statistic to take note of is the scoring average on par 4s for all abilities.
After hitting a driver off the tee, the scoring average is 4.81.
After hitting a 3 wood off the tee this average goes up to 5.11.
And while you might be worried about the shots you are going to lose from hitting driver into a bunker or by missing the fairway, the statistics do not lie. By hitting driver off the tee your scoring average on par 4s will drop immediately. And what’s not to love about that? So, next time you’re standing on a tee debating a driver versus a 3 wood – take the driver! Take the driver, hit it closer to the green, hit it closer to the flag, and give yourself the opportunity for a birdie.
You can learn and discover statistics like the ones mentioned in this article about your own game, by tracking your performance with Shot Scope. The range of shot tracking products from Shot Scope allow you to truly learn where you need to improve your golf.
Did you know that 84% of missed putts over five feet finish short? Or, that your typical drive is nearly 30 yards shorter than your Sunday best drive? These are just two intriguing statistics thrown up by Shot Scope’s performance tracking data platform. Download our free guides for golfers now!FREE e-books to lower your score