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How to score well when not playing well

Tiger Woods recent win at the Tour Championship provided a fantastic learning opportunity for all golfers. It relates to a course management element that many club golfers struggle with its very concept:


During a playing lesson I will ask the client "Where's your best miss here?" to which I generally get a puzzled look and a response of "Why do I want to miss it??".

In my experience most club golfers will miss their intended target more often than they hit it. So, why don't we plan for this potential missed shot. Let me explain.

Even the best players in the world are only hitting greens in regulation 12 out of 18 times (on average) but what they do better than most is miss the green in the correct spot.

In the video above Tiger says "... I missed it in the correct spot." He was referring to his approach shot on the last hole which he left in the bunker short.

Let's rewind to my playing lesson, when I said "where's your best miss". Tiger Woods was winning the Tour Championship and playing probably the best golf in the World but he still planned his shot so that if he missed the green he wanted to leave it in the bunker short.


Now that we've established that we're not as good as Tiger Woods and that will have to plan for the inevitable missed green (don't get me wrong.... I fully understand that everyone wants to hit the green and that we should be thinking positively about our golf but please keep reading) let's think about our best miss.

Tiger related to the bunker being his best miss because he was left with a simple uphill bunker shot but if he missed through the green where there was some very thick rough, he would have been chipping onto a fast downhill green. An almost impossible up&down.

Of these two options Tiger fancied his chances from the bunker more than the rough. A good choice! His decision over which club to use, for his approach shot, would have included choosing a club that he knew would never go through the green, allowing him to fully commit to the shot.

In this video Tiger drops his club in anger after what looks like a hooked shot to an earlier hole. But what we don't see in this video is that the ball actually lands next to the flag. So why did he drop his club in anger for what seemed like a great shot??

The flag on this green was positioned in a narrow part of the green and anything going over the green would have been left with a difficult chip to a downhill green.

Tiger's approach shot went through the green and the resulting chip shot is shown in the video above. A treacherous downhill shot, almost impossible to get close from there.

The best miss on this green was to the right hand side because there would have been plenty of green to work with and an uphill chip/putt. So Tiger dropped his club because despite the shot flying to the flag he knew if it went a fraction too far he would be in trouble.

Even for the best players in the world, aiming away from the flag is sometimes the best option.


To improve your scoring you need to develop a one-way miss. You can then plan your approach shots by analysing where the best miss is and aiming accordingly. For example, if your miss is to the right and the flag is on the right of the green and a deep bunker is to the right but there is very little trouble left then your aim should be to the left hand side of the green. If your bad shot (to the right) happens then you will be next to the flag but if you hit it straight you will give yourself the best chance to chip & putt.

The continuous journey of golf is that once you develop a one-way miss, the next level is to reduce how much you miss by. The tour pro's have a very narrow miss compared to club golfers.

Keep this in mind next time you play and who knows you might score well but not play well!


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