Longer or Straighter?
Everywhere you look, every golf equipment claim seems to be about hitting the ball further. From golf balls to drivers, fairways, hybrids, and now irons, the message that hitting it longer is the ultimate... and maybe only... goal we have as golfers.

While this quest for distance has certainly improved the performance of golf balls and many of the longer clubs (I.E.: drivers and even fairway woods), is it really what makes the difference in a round of golf? I have written about this before, but today I want to get you all involved in a discussion of what really is important to each of us when it comes to hitting a golf ball where we want it to go.

As you all know, I am an unabashed fan of Mr. Hogan and the way he played the game. His control of the golf ball was legendary and stories abound about how he rarely missed fairways and greens. He was known to control his driver ball-flight to hit certain areas of fairways to give him the best approach to the flag. He aimed at specific areas of the green to give him the best putt. He worked the ball differently based on the flag position — hitting fades to right pin placements and draws to those on the left, bringing it in high to a front pin, and lower to release to one in the back. Of course, that was the way the game was played back then by all the top players; it was just that Mr. Hogan seemed to take it to a whole other level.

As I contrast that with the power game of today, the best players in the world hit two out of three fairways and about that same percentage of the greens. But they do hit it a mile, for sure, giving rise to the oft-quoted "bomb and gouge" approach to the game.

That approach seems to work for them, but does it for you and me?

What would improve your scoring, and reduce the "big number" holes that just deflate us? Is it being a few yards closer to the green off the tee? Or being able to improve your command of the ball so that you could keep it between the trees? Is it hitting a full-out 8-iron from 160 and hitting the green 20-30% of the time, or opting for a controlled soft 6-iron and improving that percentage by double or triple?

A golf research professional told me just a couple of months ago that what golfers say they really want out of the game is "to hit better golf shots more often." What I am asking is...

"What does that mean to you?"

Let me have it, guys...
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[ comments ]
Torleif Sorenson says:
For me, being able to work the ball is more important. I'll never have the distance that my friends have, so I would rather have improved shot-control.
joe jones says:
It's a mute point for me. I have a lot of straight but not much long. Thank God I can still think my way around a golf course. Course management is most important to me. Otherwise Golf would be a waste of time for me. I guess each person has to determine what is best suited to their talents.When I was a young bomber I couldn't care less. I got wiser the older I got.
Tim Horan says:
I have a lesson this week with my local pro... I need him to address longer with the irons and straighter 150 yards and in. I have lost a great deal of distance with the mid irons 5-7 iron and I am spraying them all over the shop with 8-PW.
Just a real nightmare. So for me both, although my long irons and woods are long enough and straight enough. Really strange how that has come about.
jpjeffery says:
Well, I just have to make better contact (many of the contributors here will be aware of my recent thread on the subject) so that I can hit shots that look, and so behave, like golf shots. In turn this will give me both straighter AND longer.

By "longer", I don't mean long, as such, just not ridiculously short!

My problem seems to be that the bottom of the swing arc is just before, or at best, at the ball position, resulting in fats and thins.

So, the short answer to the questions is: Straight and airborne (but not ballooned up in to the air).
jasonfish11 says:
Oh man this isn't just a simple answer for me. A lot of my answers to your questions aren’t simple. Which means you ask good questions, or I’m long winded (which is true).

As for irons (and wedges) accuracy is most important given I have decent length (150 yard 9i at 90%).

For my driver the number show increased length off the tee (and shorter shot into the green) is more important even at the cost of accuracy.

On average, the average golfer will hit the ball closer to the flag from 40 yards out of the rough than 80 yards out of the fairway. Per the research done by Mark Brodie (Every Shot Counts).

Would I rather crush an 8i from 160 or a controlled 6i? Well first off my 8i is probably comparable to Mr Hogans 6i (as far as length and loft). Mine is probably way more forgiving.
jasonfish11 says:
I haven't hit full iron shots in months, and the closer I get to the green the more this is the case. I hit my 58* wedge about 95 yards. But my favorite yardage to hit from is 75-80 yards. I feel I can stick it inside 12' about 50% of the time (probably overstatement but I'm f'ing confident). But even then I hit a 1/2 swing 53* wedge. I still dont hit my 58* even though I can easily hit it 15-20 yards further.

So I guess I'm opting for the more controlled shot when I get close.

But from further out I dont have the same success. From 160 if I try to hit a soft 2/3 swing 6i I often hit it fat (probably because I dont practice it much and it seems weird). So I'm more often than not pulling 8i and swinging 90%. I could always pull 9i and really go for it but I quit doing that last year.

So you ask "Longer or Straighter?" and I answer "Yes" hope that helps.
GolfSmith7 says:
I agree with Jasonfish11 off the tee I want the longest shot. My playable drive percentage is in the 90's but for approach shots I want accuracy and I am more accurate with my shorter irons. So, long off the tee and more accurate on the approach.
GBogey says:
I've given up trying to improve length because whenever I do so I mess up my swing. Instead, I try to improve the quality of my contact and when I do so consistently I do get longer.
What I want most is consistency and accuracy in both direction and distance. Even with my driver, I would be content with 220-230 (distance of my solid drives as opposed to the +240 of my best drives) if I could do so consistently in the fairway.
mmontisano says:
i'm in the bomb and gouge side. i've recently gained some distance after making some swing changes and getting properly fit for clubs, and i feel my game is better for it. but focusing on those swing changes, i neglected my short game, so my scores haven't caught up to where i feel my game is.

but yeah, i'd much rather play driver then pitching wedge from the rough instead of a driver and 5 iron from the fairway. i'm not a pro, so the rough at the courses i play really isn't that long and i feel i can control a wedge better than a long iron.

well, as soon as my wedge game gets a little better, that is...
DougE says:
If I could reach a par 5 in two, or more par 4s with short irons and wedges in, I would lower my handicap big time. My short game is good and I hit most of my shots fairly straight, so I vote for LONGER.
sv677 says:
I vote for straight. You get more roll in the fairway than the rough. I don't need more distance from irons. What I want is a 4 iron I can hit, not one that has the loft of a 2 iron or less. And, I don't want to carry 6 or 7 wedges because the lofts have been jacked up on everything else.
jasonfish11 says:
Sv why not just start your set at 6i with a loft of the 4i you want the carry 6 clubs with loft listed on the bottom instead of p s g or a?

Solves both problems.
legitimatebeef says:
Repeatability is all I care about. The shots are there, just not often enough.
crimsonk91 says:
For me It would have to be straighter shots, It doesn't do me any good if I were able to hit the ball 300 yards if it lands in the woods or in the water.
Duke of Hazards says:
I want to hit crisp, low-launching wedge shots that hop once and then stop on a dime a foot from the hole. That's what I want.
onedollarwed says:
Just to stay with the theme of avoiding the question.... I'm pretty long and pretty straight. Distance control is what I'm after.
But seriously, a couple of years ago I was shopping for a driver and told the salesperson that I don't don't want to hit it longer; I don't want to hit it straighter. I actually was looking for a little more work-ability with the driver. I was playing a lowish push draw - a very trouble free shape and trajectory. Aim down the right side and whack! I wanted to play fades and high draws more easily. I set up with the launch monitor and tried a bunch of drivers until I could hit those shots with regularity - boom. Even found a demo model.
So there's your answer: not longer, not straighter. With scoring clubs distance gauging can be mysterious at times.
e_c_poirier says:
I'd answer your question as "being more consistent."

A typical round of golf for me consists of masterfully nailing the sweet spot on my 6i and watching my approach fly 15 yds further than the previous time I used it, and then duffing a chip from 10 yds off the green.

I'd love to be robotic with my game. I wouldn't care if my 6i only went 150yds each time, and sliced, or hooked, I would just like to know before I started my swing, what I can expect to happen.

Half the time I'm guessing...
- will I slice this drive? if so, I better aim 10yds left edge of the fairway and HOPE it slices back into play
- will this drive miraculously fly straight? Oh oh, should I continue to aim 10yds left of the fairway or take a chance, aim for the fairway and then watch it slice into the right rough. ARGGG!!!

Forget it - I'll just grip the club, keep my head down and quiet, take a smooth swing and remember, even if I shoot a triple bogie, it's better than responding to email at work.
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