Niagara Gazette

Sports

June 8, 2013

Golf by Ruggiero: The real difference between pros and others is...

Niagara Gazette — Like all sports, golf has its great players, its good ones, and its not-so-good ones. Ever wonder what the principal disparity is between the professionals and the rest of us? Could it be driving distance or maybe iron accuracy?

Driving distance? Certainly the pros hit their ball well past the average amateur. And, distance does has its advantages. On a typical 400-yard par four, the pros will hit a drive 280 yards, leaving themselves a simple wedge to the green. The typical club players will hit their tee shots perhaps 220 yards, leaving them 180 yards to the hole and requiring the use of a hybrid.

So, the pro undoubtedly has an advantage over the recreational golfer in hitting greens in regulation due to driving distance and there’s not much the resident duffer can do about it, no matter what the manufacturers tell us.

(Note: hitting a green in regulation means getting your ball onto the green of the hole that you are playing in two strokes less than its par. So, reaching a green in regulation, or GIR, on a par five is being on that green in three strokes, a par four in two strokes, and a par three in one stroke.)

Iron accuracy? These professional guys (and gals) are good to be sure, but did you know that the leading PGA professional on tour hits only 12 out of 18 greens in regulation. That means that 33 percent of the time, they find themselves needing to get their ball “up-and-down” to save par, just like us!

Most decent local players will average nine GIR, or about 50 percent of their holes. Not a huge difference, but the pro again does maintain an advantage.

So, while driving distance and iron accuracy both provide the professional with a capability of navigating 18 holes in less strokes than us, the primary discrepancy between the professional and a good club player is not distance nor iron accuracy, it’s scrambling.

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