False Distance Beliefs Don’t Help

It concerns me the more I read some golfers comments across the social world in relation to distance and what it means. I am seeing more and more golfers telling me how far they have hit a shot or how far they hit their driver when all I think is, how does that help you. 

Thanks to the great work of Mark Broadie and the idea of strokes gained we now understand the importance of distance and how it can improve approach play then in turn strokes gained in putting stats. For most handicap golfers extra distance would have a huge benefit but not at the expense of a certain level of accuracy. Most handicap golfers that I have taught over my years as a golf coach don’t get close to a high level of ball striking or face to path control. Giving them bucket loads of speed will only hurt their game more. 

Improving a players strike will only deliver more ball speed and in turn more distance. Improving a players face to path and dynamic loft delivery will also improve distance, yet I only hear claims of distance and total yards from golfers. Why do I not hear claim of fairways hit or face to path control and strike. 

Think about my knuckle ball shout used across my content. What that is saying is I am going to reach good distance due to strike and delivery control not just ego tastic speed. Knuckle Ballllllllll is a fun shout but it also has a clever undertone if you look deeper into what we are saying. 

I worry as golf lives and grows online where so many can have a voice regardless of experience or knowledge. I am seeing a huge trend towards distance beliefs fuelded often by poor info. While at the same time I understand how extra distance can help when looking at a strokes gained model I also see how it hurts students day in day out. 


Please share your thoughts below and let me know if this makes sense. 

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16 comments on “False Distance Beliefs Don’t Help

  • D-Mac-not-G-Mac says:

    I’m off 3, and was playing against someone off 18 who’s idea of golf was solely based how far he hit it. On one par-3 he knocked it left and long, stuck out his chest and said “I hit 8-iron. What did you hit” “The green…”

    This obsession with swing speed is totally missing the point. You can knock it past me all you like, but that’s not the game. Even long drivers have to hit target for the shot to count.

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  • Paul Batchelor says:

    All boils back down to machismo and ego 9 times out of 10. I just hit my 9 iron 150 and you had to use a 7! Since watching your’s and others YouTube videos coupled with the odd lesson here and there, my practice all leads towards getting a beter strike on the ball which has significantly improved my game through better striking of the ball. Cheers Mark, keep up the excellent work fella and all the best in your tie up with sky ?

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  • Brenton Ford says:

    If you’ve ever played golf with the old blokes who are 50, 60, 70 years old, you’ll understand it isn’t about distance. I’ve played with guys who I’m out driving by 50 yards, or hitting 8iron to their 5/6iron, but they are hitting 90% fairways, right down the middle and have a great short game for those long holes. Consistency of strike, and dispersion is much better than distance. They are doing something right to be in their 60’s and still playing off single figures.

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  • I asked my local pro, I’ll happily loose 20 yards if you can teach me to keep the ball on the fairway. Distance helps, but accuracy I helps more !!

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  • Andrew jackson says:

    I have changed my thoughts when addressing the ball, to thinking about the best place to strike the ball. It has helped me not think about swing shapes etc but rather “I just want to hit the ball out of that part of the club face and hopefully my body will do what it needs to, to make that happen”. This has led to not only longer drives but more consistancy with accurate ones. Still hit a few way off line but I play of 16 so what can I expect. Have done the same with my irons too, getting better strikes on the ball which has also helped my distance control. I like the fact that mark thinks outside the “norm”, and because I don’t really play serious golf, I like to try different things on the course. They don’t always work out but when they do the results are sometimes outstanding.

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  • Richard Moffatt says:

    Since watching your video talking about hitting a “pat pat” with a driver, I’ve really worked on a fall back, slower driver swing. Not only is it a useful tool for laying up short of hazards, since my strike is more consistent I don’t lose too much, and it can go a long way to restoring confidence to my full stroke (which is still a patpat compared to what most are claiming on the interweb).
    I agree with what Brenton says above. My dad played into his 70’s and as he lost distance he got straighter, and he still managed to score well.

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  • Too true this (I replied to your tweet about it too.) I think one of the reasons I am (a little) better today compared to 4-5 years ago is simply that I don’t hit it as far and have a bit more control. I played with a guy with ridiculous club head speed for his handicap a month or two ago. Playing off 12 or 13, he swung his driver at pro speed but poor face control and contact. He kept hitting driver and it must have cost him 6-8 sots easily because he was rarely in a good place.

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  • This is where devices like Game Golf come into their own for handicap golfers. I have so much info in my hands about strokes gained, and what areas need work. Distance is nice, but I know also that my longest drives tend to end up in trouble. I’d rather tap it 200 yards onto the fairway/first cut, than bust a gut getting 250 into the trees.

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  • Dane Williams says:

    Mark, I am in school to be a PGA professional. I am a decent player with what I would call a low clubhead speed compared to most players in this modern era. I have been fit for a driver and had a Bridgestone ball fitting this summer.I swing the club right around 103 miles an hour and carry a driver just under 250. I have learned alot about the game the last few years and in large part I have learned that I am at a disadvantage to the longer hitter but that’s not the only part of this game. I passed the PAT where some of the long players in my program have not.You have helped me realize that even though I am not long I can still play and still put up some good scores. Thank you for the knowledge you have passed along. Great read Mr. Crossfield. Well done.

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  • I remember starting golf I used to hit the ball as hard as I could to get distance. As soon as I learned to hit the ball properly I could get more distance and accuracy from less power. Love that sweet spot

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  • I’m a racquetball player that’s taken up golf for the last 3 years. The two sports are very tough to both play. You dial up Power in racquetball and learn to control it, but the racket is very short and a fixed length. In golf I think a good quick rhythm, though a much longer one, has to be established early, but learn to control it on shorter clubs first and grow it in length of clubs. I’m only up to the 3 wood for all but a wide fairway on select distance par 4’s. I think if I hit it straight I get 220 yards out of the Driver. I’m getting to a consistent 200 from the 3 wood, but one time I got it all in-sync and pounded out a 3 wood for 270 yards up hill 30 ft in elevation into wet rough that gave me almost no roll. There is a lot of extra power in the improved timing I happened to jump into, but it doesn’t really happen by going harder. Long Golf clubs really are an amplifier of quality swings, not out of control swings. Still, I do want to get longer, just by improved quality and even now I want to play on the fairway and edges of the rough as I slowly get there.

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  • I basically only use my driver on long par 4 and par 5s… Granted that that is most holes, but I have found that hitting a 2 iron to about 230-250 yards in the fairway is way better than pull hooking or slicing a driver 300… Just look at Tiger this week. I think he would have scored better, if he had kept it in the fairway more…

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  • I am not affiliated in anyway but i would suggest anyone that just blindly pulls out a driver checks out this website https://www.tourcaddyexperience.co.uk/

    I worked out that i used to (When a member of a club) hit driver on 13 holes at my old course every time i played, i was being lazy and imagined what i SHOULD hit on all 18 holes if someone was advising me, turns out with that mental exercise i probably have been hitting driver 3 times.

    Distance is so boring, it is discussed endlessly on forums and as someone who has been active in them for years, i promise that you pull your hair out when someone starts a thread called HOW FAR DO YOU HIT…. ANYTHING!

    You get exactly the same each time

    1 A few posters post numbers that are relatively low compared to what will come later (These numbers too are almost certainly inflated but they do not draw attention as everyone is misinformed so they serve to set a base from where longer hitters must add x yards

    2 If too many posts go by, someone will say, HEY where are all the internet heros today?

    3. The internet hero will surely surface as their ego is stroked by the posting of i hit it 340 yards

    4. Ridicule

    5. HEY he is long…… but prob not that long

    6. person states WELL ACTUALLY I AM A LONGDRIVER
    (THERE IS ALWAYS ONE that thinks people care), NOTICE it is never a champion, only someone that took part !

    7. Someone will remark on page 839 of the thread, wow the average internet golfer hits his 7 iron 210 yards and driver 350 yards and most guys i know probably hit it 200 yards.

    8. Some will say IT HIT IT 350 BUT would give up 30 yards to hit it straighter, which is a standard way of saying i LEGIT hit it this far and am afflicted by these huge drivers, if only someone could teach me to hit it straight (YE RIGHT)

    9. Everyone will say i would rather hit it straight v being 300 yards in the woods as if they are mutually exclusive or options where you select one or the other, swinging better means hitting it further, so this is warped!

    I could continue like distance threads, they never end, like 24 handicappers internet drives

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