Why? Because golfers just don't hit that many of them -- about two per round, compared to about five mid- to long-iron shots. Also, because of the short length and high loft of the clubs, there's not as big a difference between good, average, and bad wedge shots as there is between good, average and bad mid- to long-iron shots. So, you'd be better off practicing the latter.
Not making bogeys is more important than making birdies
Birdies, eagles, and albatrosses are all attached to finite values -- at no point can you make one of those and score better than three-under on a hole. But over-par scores have no such limitations. You can make a 16 on a par 4. Even if you cancel it out by birdieing the next 12 holes, that's two thirds of your round gone, playing phenomenally well just getting back to where you started.
Laying up on par 4s and 5s is almost always a bad decision.
In golf, there's a direct correlation: the closer you are to the hole, the more likely you are to hit your shot closer to (or into) the hole. If there's water short that you can't carry, that's one thing, but if you're laying up just because you can't reach, you're actually making golf tougher.
Power buys you a lot of wiggle room
A longer club with less loft means less forgiveness on misses. That's true for anyone. But players who hit it farther almost always have the luxury of hitting clubs with more loft -- and therefore less margin of error -- into greens than other, shorter hitters.
Lack of power means you better be a great putter
The "Danger Zone" is what Hunt calls the area between 175 to 225 yards from the green. No one can avoid it altogether, but short hitters find this zone practically all the time. That means they're far less likely to hit it closer to the hole on their next shots, which means a lot more difficult putts for birdie than their competitors.
You don't have to hit it long and straight to score well
In the 1980s, the best players in the world were the best drivers of the golf ball. There's one key reason that's not the case anymore. In Hunt's own words:"The length of par 5's have not matched the increase in distance over the years. That has allowed players to get away with ineffective driving if they can play the course like a par-68 instead of a par-72."
Hitting fairways is overrated. . .
Amateurs usually don't have as good technique as the pros, so they're aided when rough tees up the ball. In fact, they hit their shots on average more than 10 percent closer to the hole from the rough than from the fairway.
. . .Except for pros
From the same distance away, PGA Tour golfers hit shots from the fairway about 30 percent closer to the hole than from the rough. That means turning a 30-footer for birdie into a 22-footer for birdie; eight feet makes that putt a whole lot easier.
The longest hitters play the best on par 5s
Not everything in the book is revelatory -- it's not supposed to be. It's simply about finding what's right, which sometimes means confirming what we all already suspected, like this: there's a direct correlation between hitting it farther and scoring better on par 5s. So, if you want to play your par 5s better, get in the gym.
When it comes to distances, just remember: 25 yards matters
There's not much difference, results-wise, between hitting, say, a 7-iron from 150 yards and a 6-iron from 160. But there's a big two-club difference; between a 7-iron from 150 and a 5-iron from 175, for example. So, if you want to lay up to a 7-iron distance, don't fret if you end up with a 6-iron in your hands. Your priority should be ensuring you don't have a 5-iron in.
Great rounds need great ball-striking
Holing putts gets easier the closer you are, but it's almost always statistically unlikely. That's why, when someone is playing really well, it's not just because of their putting, it's because they're hitting their shots so well that they're putting from closer, and therefore face more makeable putts.
The magic number: 115 mph
Swing speed is a pretty solid indication of a PGA Tour player's potential. Young pros who tend to go on to successful careers tend to swing the club faster than 115 mph.
When in doubt, hit it high
It's an old adage, proven by stats. It's easier for a high ball-hitter to hit the ball low than a low ball-hitter to hit it high. That's why PGA Tour pros who hit it high tend to have better success both on tour and in the majors.
Hitting it lower-than-normal is a red flag
Players who start to struggle with their ball-striking tend to hit the ball lower than they usually do. So, if you see someone starting to hit their drives lower than usual, it's a good indication of where their game is heading.
Fast greens = easy greens
Contrary to what many people believe, because the size of a stroke is smaller on faster greens, golfers of all skill levels make more putts on fast greens than slow greens.
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Undulating greens highlight the best putters
On tour, everyone has the skills to make flat putts. It's the greens with big slopes where the cream rises to the top, because it calls for players to have a greater mastery over distance control. David Toms, for example, is consistently one of the best putters on tour and has historically performed well on undulating greens.
Uphill putts are money in the bank
Another old adage confirmed. Uphill putts are simply more forgiving than downhill putts in every way, regardless of the golfer's skill level, and therefore far more makeable.
Birdie putts are more difficult
Some stats, you just can't explain. For whatever reason, golfers facing a putt between five and 20 feet are about 16 percent more likely to make it if it's a putt for par rather than for birdie.
Over 15 feet is a shot in the dark
You can tell who the good putters are from how they perform inside 15 feet, but once you get outside that mark, it's more about confidence and luck rather than skill. Shorter putts depend on the golfer's judgment and distance control, whereas putts over 15 feet include more random elements, like wind speed, and can be distorted when players go on hot streaks.
The moneymakers: Short game shots inside 20 yards
They're not especially difficult, but statistics prove that good short game players -- especially with pitch and lobs shots -- are the most proficient at getting up and down from inside 20 yards.
Another shot in the dark: shots over 20 yards
It's pretty rare that a pro will have a shot between 20 and 100 yards, especially on par 3s and 4s. If they do, it's likely because they hit an extraordinarily bad shot to leave themselves in that position, which means they're probably under a tree, in the rough somewhere. Those shots aren't a fair indicator of someone's ability.