Backwards? Not at all.
According to Mark Broadie, drives are responsible for 28 percent of scoring while putting contributes to a paltry 15 percent. Bubble burst! Of course that's measuring the best players in the world, but that's what golfers want.
Tour this. Tour that. That's what we buy, so why not find out how PGA Tour players score? In his book Every Shot Counts Broadie suggests that of all the strokes counted between 2004 and 2012, tee shots and putts accounted for 43 percent of scoring while all other shots were credited for 57 percent. Drive for the dough.
Golfers have been hounded about working on their short games for years, but wedges and putters might not be the most important clubs in the bag. I've always contended that the driver should be at the forefront of practice, but I've also instructed my athletes to hit wedges until the sun sets on 18.
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Broadie invented the Strokes Gained approach to better scoring, a system of recording data that truly measures the importance of every shot. He suggests that a fairway missed might not be an accurate way of measuring a drive.
For example, a ball that ends up two or three inches out of the fairway doesn't penalize a golfer as much as an errant tee shot that lands Out of Bounds.
Sweet spots on wedges need attention. However, in the 2013-2014 Season, the PGA Tour reported that Rory McIlroy gained 2.8 strokes a round on the field. He gained 1.5 strokes driving and almost another stroke with his approach shots. Granted, many of those approach shots were 56's and 60's, but many were mid-irons.
Okay, so the driver and putter marquee as the most important clubs in the bag if in fact they account for 43 percent of scoring. That leaves 57 percent for the other 12 clubs, or 5 percent per club.
Some most likely are more important than others. Therefore, if three wedges hypothetically account for 25 percent, the other clubs are worth less than 4 percent each.
Granted, different strokes for different folks, but at the end of the practice range lie two important insights into scoring: the driver and the putter. The other 12 clubs as a group are just as important, but according to Broadie, golfers should spend most of their dough on a driver and a putter that gain a few strokes.
Tommy Snell, golf coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, writes a column for the Sun Herald.