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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Girls Gone Wild in Prattville

Cristie Kerr bio pic from LPGA.comWhile looking for a good story for today's post, I found myself drawn once again to the LPGA. I didn't get to watch it today but, after reading the Constructivist's summary of round 3 at the Navistar, I knew I had my story. Cristie Kerr actually reached Lorena Ochoa's tournament record of -18 only halfway through the third round! She got to -20 before a double and a bogey in the last four holes dropped her to -17, which is still 3 shots clear of Katherine Hull and Na Yeon Choi.

I keep saying weekend golfers can learn more by watching the women than the men. I want to use some of Cristie's numbers to show you what I mean.

The course the ladies are playing in Prattville AL measures 6607 yards. Many naysayers say these short courses prove the women's game is inferior. I don't know where you play, but many of the public courses where I live are right around this length. Already we have something in common!

Cristie is driving the ball just over 274 yards this week. Of course, we all know that drives are usually measured on only two holes (that's pretty much the same on every tour), and typically they try to get one with the wind and one against the wind in hopes of getting a decent average. I'm assuming this course is playing fairly hard, since Cristie is only averaging 257.5 yards for the year. I'm going to use both figures here, but I'd like to point out that Cristie is just over 5'3"... and many of you only wish you could hit it as far as she does. How you expect to play like the men who routinely drive it over 300 is beyond me!

But here's the irony of the situation: When I figured out how far Cristie is hitting the ball proportionate to the length of the course, she's actually quite a bomber! I wondered how far Cristie would hit the ball if she hit it the same relative distance on a longer course. I chose 7200 yards, since I figured that would be a typical "long" public course.

Cristie's 274 yard drives on a 6600-yard course would be nearly 299 yards on a 7200-yard course -- that's longer than many of the men! Using her year-long average of 257.5 yards against this 6600-yard course, she would smack it about 281 on the 7200-yard course.

My point here is that the women are playing courses just as long as the men, proportionally speaking.

Paula Creamer bio pic from LPGA.comPaula Creamer, whose year-long average is just over 240 yards, is a proportional 262 on this hypothetical 7200-yard course. And Paula's 5'9", by the way -- half-a-foot taller than Cristie. I told you Cristie was a bomber!

In fact, comparing some of the shorter (in stature) hitters like Ai Miyazato and Jiyai Shin, I found that they all tend to be at least as long as Paula... if not longer.

Lesson #1 for the weekend player: Height does not guarantee length, and lack of height doesn't necessarily prevent length.

Here's Lesson #2: If you can't hit it farther than the ladies, you're unlikely to learn more about managing your game from the men. The women are playing courses whose length is typical of what most weekend players are facing. You'll learn more usable strategy from them.

And finally, here's Lesson #3 (which is enough for today, I think): Since the ladies are getting more distance from smaller bodies, doesn't it make sense that you'll gain more length by copying them than you will by copying those PGA players standing 6'1" and taller?

Take some time to watch the girls go wild in Prattville today. You might learn something useful!

10 comments:

  1. #1 - ain't that the truth ? we had a former Georgia Tech golfer in studio with us a while back and he was just routinely talking about driving greens 320 yards out. He was about my height (6') but I outweighed him by a good 60 to 70 pounds. I asked him how come he could hit drives that far, but someone twice his size was 60 yards behind him. He told me it's a LOFT problem. (I hit a low ball - so I thought that was what he meant) No such luck - LOFT - Lack Of F-ing Talent. (lol)

    #2 - definitely ! watch the women - learn to play within your ability level - don't swing out of your shoes - if you need more club...take more club.

    but I think most men play courses that are several hundred yards longer than what the women pros play. I played the course in Prattville a about a week before the tournament a year ago. The greens keeper told me they were instructed by the LPGA to widen the fairways, cut the rough, and slow the greens. All of the greens were marked off in the center and holes cut way out on the edges so the middle would be in good shape for the hole placements to be used in the tournament.

    In essence, the public usually plays a tougher course than the LPGA stop in Prattville. (and that's not an easy course)

    #3 - don't forget that there are quite a few women who ARE over 6' tall. I met Anna Nordqvist this past January in Orlando and she towered over me - but she swings smoothly. It's just a lot easier to see how all the parts of the swing are supposed to fit together when they aren't going 120 mph like the men.

    Good stuff Mike ! This should be on a card handed out to all beginning golfers. :-)

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  2. Thanks for the compliments, Court!

    And I know the women's courses aren't set up just like the men's. In this case, all I'm talking about is their driving distance relative to the length of the courses they play.

    Cristie really bombs it for her size, but Ai Miyazato is the one who blows me away. She's only 6'2", but she's hitting it out there with Anna. Her swing looks so slow, it simply doesn't seem like she should hit it that far.

    BTW, did you know Anna's only about 7 yards longer than Paula (average for the year)? She's listed at exactly 6' tall... I suspect she looked so tall to you simply because you were on your knees in worship. ;-)

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  3. I don't mind the course setup differences between PGA and LPGA - but between the LPGA and the every day set up for the public ? The women pros should at least be somewhat different than the regular setup the other 51 weeks of the year.

    Ai isn't 6'2" - MAYBE 5'2"...in elevator knee socks. :-)

    Creamer is listed at 6' tall ? That's crazy. I stood eye to eye with her in Orlando and she was wearing some serious heels. (she had a lot of eyes popping that day) I'm 6' tall and Nordqvist was at least 3" tall than me.

    Yeah - Kerr can really poke it out there. I don't understand why Nordqvist isn't longer than she is just based on leverage. I know she doesn't always pull out the driver, but over the whole season, she should be longer than the stats say she is.

    By the stats - Kerr is 7 yards longer than Nordqvist.

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  4. I was on my knees looking up at Ai -- I meant 5'2". ;-D

    I also meant that Anna is listed at 6'; Paula's listed at 5'9". I guess I'm just vertically challenged today. ;-) As for why Anna doesn't hit it farther, I'd have to see her swing in slow motion to be sure... but I'm guessing she has a "deadhand" motion like Steve Stricker. He doesn't really hit it that far for his height, either... but like Anna, he's pretty darn accurate.

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  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcKtXRH_ZYI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQwrP4MXV9k https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJFfLQ53Z4Q https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfTJ04ROjzc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uihMnvytAow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUMpnQLIWHg http://www.golfchannel.com/news/golf-central-blog/female-perspective-kerr-keeping-close-eye-men-pinehurst/

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  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPiLptKBai0

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  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVxtwFtNK1U

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  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewkoy-UXTs4

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  9. http://www.rotaryswing.com/golf-instruction/golfbiomechanics/lisa-cornwell-golf-swing-analysis

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  10. http://www.golfchannel.com/media/morning-drive-long-drive-competition-sadena-parks/

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