The Short Half of Golf

Golf is structured in two parts. I don't mean the front nine and the back nine. What I do mean is the long of it and the short of it.

On your typical par 72 golf course there are 10 par-fours,  4 par-threes and 4 par-fives. Half of the strokes allotted to par are to get the ball to the green (the long of it). The other half of the strokes allotted to par are to get the ball in the hole (the short of it).

Par-3: 1 shot to get it to the green, 2 more to get it in the hole.
Par-4: 2 shots to get it to the green, 2 more to get it in the hole.
Par-5: 3 shots to get it to the green. 2 more to get it to the hole.

Unless you are either really good or very lucky the chances of getting the ball on the green in less than the allotted 36 strokes are very slim. The typical amateur golfer shooting in the 80's or 90's may never have fewer than 36 shots to reach the green. That same golfer may regularly have fewer than 36 putts.

So you may ask, "What's the point?"

As a golf coach not just a swing instructor it is important for me to get my student's to focus on the Short Half of Golf. Even so most of my students want to hit it farther. There is a reason most practice areas in the country are called DRIVING RANGES! Spend just an hour or so at a typical golf course driving range and you will see hardly anyone practicing out of the bunker, chipping onto the green or putting. You will see a lot of golfers slicing, hooking, topping and whiffing their driver in a vain attempt to hit it better and longer with the big stick. All to get more out of the 14 times they will use the big dog.

Why aren't those same golfers trying to get better with the clubs they are going to use for the rest of the 70 or 80 shots they are going to attempt on the golf course?

I am making the case here for making golf all short half. I do not mean that the game should only be short par threes, but that is a good place to practice. If you make the game all short half you can make your practice all short half. You can play an all short half game on the courses you now play!

How long is the short half? The answer depends on the length of the golf course you play. The length of the course you play should not be much longer than 36 times the distance you hit your 5-iron or hybrid. PGA tournaments, played by the best golfers in the world, are usually played on courses shorter than the distance of a top pro's 5-iron times 36.

Let's say you hit your 5 iron 140 yards including roll.  135X36 = 4860 yds. So any set of tees around 5000 yards gives you a chance to hit your best score ever. Providing you never use a club longer than your 5-iron.

For your first time playing a 'short half round' with your friend, hole number 1 is a pretty tough 325 yard par-4.

Your playing partner pulls out the driver hoping to stay out of trouble, slices the ball into the weeds and trees 170 yards off the tee into trouble. You grab the trusty 5-iron knowing you can't hit it far enough to reach trouble and strike a fearless shot 130 onto the fairway. For the second shot you are away so you hit first. Now a 6-iron struck pretty good but only 120 yards. Your friend has no choice but to hit it sideways to get it back to the short grass he muffs the shot out of the deep grass and gets to keep his turn to shoot. His third shot does reach the fairway. You are both on the fairway, you are 75 yards from the green in 2 and your friend is 125 out in 3. So even after his longer drive he is away.  His 4th shot comes up short, your 3rd shot is on the green! You have a pretty easy hit and run with a 9-iron onto the middle of the green. His 5th shot is a pretty good chip but he still 2 putts for a 7. You putt right up to the hole for a tap-in 5 and go one-up.

Your thoughts heading to the next tee are, "Just a little better putt and I par the hole." His thoughts are, "I hate this game, now I have to hit another damn driver."

Sitting in the bar after the round, settling up the wagers, you buy the drink because you took all three Nassau bets. He remarks, after sipping his losers scotch , "I can't believe you beat me hitting those dink shots off the tee, I out drove you on every hole!" Your response is a bit harsh, " I know. I just wish I would have chipped and putted a little better." Winners scotch does taste better.

The next day you are both at the range. He is sweating and cursing, hitting a large bucket of balls with his driver, while you chip and putt after hitting a couple of dozen iron shots.