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March 7, 2006

Does straight matter? If you watch any PGA Tour event on television, the argument from many players seems to be straight is becoming less important. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have both mentioned that a wedge from the rough is better than a seven iron from the fairway. The best player in the world, Tiger Woods, is not even hitting 50 percent of his fairways, ranking 180th on Tour. At the same time, he is second in greens in regulation!

What does this mean for the average player? Nothing! The guys we watch on Sundays have the strength and accuracy that most of us do not have. For their purposes, they are right: a wedge out of the rough is better than a seven iron from the fairway. The biggest separator between a Tour player and a good amateur is the wedge. A world-class player must be able to control all of his wedges if he wants to have any kind of career. The weekend warrior does not have the ability or the time to become that proficient with his wedge game.

So, as we watch eagerly with the Masters on the horizon, don’t be confused into thinking that playing out of the rough is good for everyone. It might work for the 10 or 15 best players in the world. Stick to something that you know can keep you in the fairway, and hit as many greens as possible. When those greens are missed, the pitching and chipping parts of your game, that you spent all winter mastering, will bring you lower scores.

Michael Burcin
South Carolina Assistant Golf Coach