Why LONGER Courses Might LOWER Scores

Comin’ off this Caveman’s examination of the new groove rules and the USGA’s explanation that less accurate approach shots will put an added emphasis on drive length and accuracy, a few of my Rock Heads had the same follow-up question: “Why not just keep lengthening courses?”

More than a few elite golf courses have gone this route and added yards from the tips, with still more on the way. Over at The Riviera, for example, plans are to add almost 40 more yards to the already 418-yard, par-4 #9, and 50 yards to #12, a 413-yard par 4.

But if you ask me, the lost playing time and high cost of stretching a course doesn’t hurt good players so much as punish us hackers. Will those extra 40 or 50 yards at Riviera really matter to a PGA’r who’s already pushin’ 300 off the tee? Probably not. But to a regular Joe still strugglin’ to break 90, even a slight increase in distance might mean the difference between a bogey and a double. Most of us just don’t have the swing speed and power that the pros do.

Of course I won’t be playing Riviera any time soon, but at my local courses I’d much rather see new bunkers, water, or other elements than simply have more ground to cover. The shot selection and course management side of the game is one of the most difficult (but rewarding) aspects to work on.

Golf course architect William Amick agrees. He wanted to know how to give golfers of every skill level a great round no matter what tees they picked to start from. So, he sorted golfers into eight different levels, collected a TON of data about the distances each type of player could reach, and looked for patterns.

And what he found was really interesting:

Although golfers varied widely in how far they could hit the ball, the relationship between the distance each hit their different clubs was strikingly similar. For instance, each of the eight golfers hit their next longest metal wood nearly 88% of the distance of their driver. They hit their 5-iron approximately 70% of the length of their driver and their 9-iron was about 52% of their driver. And these mathematical relationships were close to the same for both men and women.

Once he knows a golfer’s average drive, he can pretty accurately determine their distance with any other club in their bag. Armed with that, Amick feels he can deliver a better playing experience no matter what handicap a golfer carries.

So, getting back to the groove rule, here’s hoping the change does in fact make elite golfers focus on drive accuracy more, and that course superintendents can stop stretching their fairways for a while.


PS: I’m lookin’ for tips & techniques that will add distance to my drives. Have you found any drills or exercises that have given you a few more feet off the tee?

3 thoughts on “Why LONGER Courses Might LOWER Scores

  • December 8, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Good ‘old fashioned push-ups. You do like 100 a day and soon you’ll add some distance to the drives!

    ***Response from Scratch***
    Thats a really good tip. also some regular ol’ crunches to strengthen the core will help out. Check out Perfect Push-ups if you haven’t had a chance to. The way it rotates while you do the exercise helps not only build chest and shoulder muscles, but also the balancing muscles you use when you swing the club!!

  • December 9, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    it wouldnt surprise me. Its hard to score on par 3s… miss the green, and youre looking at par, at best.

    -Submitted via Twitter

  • December 9, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Scratch buddy the thing about the extra distance is to just hit the weight room hahaha jk with ya man. When i try to rip one i just widen my stance more and try and make a bigger shoulder turn and of course grip n rip it lol. Back on topic with the lengthening of the golf course now. I think that a longer course to an extent would not hurt the avg guy. The reason why i think that is because i belong to a nice country club in Ohio and our skins game always go to diff courses to play something diff and im sure its the same with you and your friends. The thing is though whenever these guys go out and play, they’ll always play the tips and play great golf. Most of these guys are between 10 and 15 handicaps and average prolly around 250 maybe off the tee and shoot under their handicaps. We always make a trip to a course close to our home course and its 7,100 yards from the tips and they play better from back there than one or two up from the tips. I feel that the main reason is that they are not hitting it into the trouble off the tee. Now for me i get kinda screwed no matter what haha. Some i can cut off and some i gotta lay back, but i feel that if someone were to play something longer that is an average joe will better their game tremendously.

    Taken from Gogolfspace


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