I asked a polarizing question on twitter this week
A common #golf strategy is to aim at the middle of the green and shape it into the pin
Which one of these strategies in the picture produced the lowest scores? Aim at the left side of the green and fade away from the pin – or aim at the middle of the green and draw into the pin? pic.twitter.com/Gsee1qjAkv
— Adam Young Golf (@adamyounggolf) July 9, 2020
Ignoring the fact that most people don’t have the ability to shape it both ways (don’t worry about this – you’ll see it’s not actually that relevant), let’s look at what the right answer is.
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Imagine we have 2 different players (player A and B).
- Their swing paths are both on the line of their aim
- They present the clubface either on their path line, or up to 3 degrees more target-side of their path.
In other words, each player (for this example) has a consistent path and a 3 degree clubface presentation window.
Player A likes to hit a fade – they aim left of their target and curve the ball from left to right – their shot pattern always finishes to the right of their aim (and path)
Player B likes to draw the ball – they aim right of their target and curve the ball from right to left. Their shot pattern always finishes to the left of their aim (and path).
However, both players have the same shot dispersion and proximity to that center line – they just aim differently to achieve it.
Imagine each “ball” in the picture represents 10% of their shots. So this dispersion circle could be said to be their “shot probabilities”. We don’t know exactly which one of those shots will come out on any given golf swing, but we can make a prediction based on their patterns and tendencies.
Imagine we are playing the below hole 10 times, where the flag is tucked on the left side and there is danger left.
Player A knows their shot pattern never misses left of their aim, so they aim at the left side of the green and hit their usual pattern of shots
Player B knows their shot pattern never misses right, and they aim appropriately for their shot pattern.
The Big Question
Which one is better – the fade or the draw?
It’s a trick question – they both produce the same dispersion pattern so, if you pick an appropriate aim point, they both produce the same scores.
The point is – if the resulting shot pattern is the same, what matters more is how you overlay that shot pattern
A Draw Is Better
Many people claimed that a draw is still better because a shot that goes too straight (doesn’t curve enough) will land on the middle of the green.
Look at the patterns again – all probabilities for both fade and draw landed on the green (in this specific example). In fact, with the fade, a “straight” shot that doesn’t curve right would actually land closer (as the player’s aim is closer to the flag).
However, this assumes that either player is more likely to under-shape than over-shape. In real life testing with real-life players, I haven’t found this to be true. If anything, it is player-dependent (some under-shape and some over-shape).
Not Real Life
Many pointed out that the patterns in the example are not indicative of real life dispersions.
With real golfers, they occasionally shape it the other side of their path ( a double cross). For example, a
- fader may occasionally hit a pull draw, and a
- drawer might hit a push fade.
This is true – so let’s run the numbers again, assuming that both players;
- maintain the same swing path (on-line with their aim)
- Have a clubface presentation that now includes the possibility of going 1 degree the opposite side of their path (the double cross).
Now, the fader’s pattern (below) has 20% doubles crosses that go left of their aim, causing missed greens and dropped shots.
Whereas the drawer’s 20% double cross (push fade finishing right of their aim – see below pic) is still on the green, costing them fewer shots).
We can see in this example, given the same aims as before, the draw is indeed better – more shots hit the green thus the score would be lower.
Wait, One Moment!
However, if the fader of the ball takes a more appropriate aim point for their given pattern (which includes the potential for the double cross), the outcomes and thus scores are, once again, identical.
In the above picture, the fader has simply shifted their aim slightly more to the right to allow for those 20% double crosses.
The message here is;
- In the example I originally posted , both fade and draw shot outcomes were identical – so it was a trick question – neither was “better”. Each player simply chose a different aim point to achieve their outcome.
- Regarding what’s best for YOU – know your own shot patterns
- Use the type of shot that gives YOU the tightest dispersion, whether it’s a fade/draw or the intention to hit straight
- It’s the overlaying (best fit) of the shot pattern onto the scenario (green, danger, hole location etc) that matters more than how it curved to get there
Want to learn more?
- Identify your best shot pattern
- Choose appropriate aims and alignments to lower your average score
- Change/improve/tighten your dispersions
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