An inspiration for a golf story is one step removed from another’s article. Brandel Chamblee went off on launch monitors and their detrimental effect on the game. Rich Hunt followed up with a contradictory piece on a site for which I write, golfwrx.com. A handful of charts and a conclusion that Chamblee’s comments were without merit. Like Charlie Brown, all I took away was “bomb and gouge.”
Listen hear, children, while I tell you a tale of the early 2000s, when Vijay Singh went on record as saying that he didn’t care if he missed the fairway, as long as he had a wedge in his hand. He reasoned that any approach from any grass depth with a wedge was more likely to be accurate than laying up and hitting six iron from the fairway. Thus was born the term bomb and gouge, wherein professional golfers would exploit new clubs and balls for the distance they offered, eschewing the traditional notion that more precise leads to fewer strokes.
Amateur golfers took notice and began to do their level best to emulate the pros. Lashing mightily at the still orb, they rocketed shots into swamps, drains, gutters and grille rooms. They discovered that it was nearly impossible to gouge their way out of those lies. Did they cease this madness? No, it seems that they forgot their prior modus operandus and could not retreat to playing the course via the fairways.
There’s a course of action that should precede any change in methodology. Weighing the benefits versus the consequences leads the field. Amateur golfers did not consider the dispersal of shots that they missed versus how the professionals missed. Amateur golfers tend to open and close club faces to greater degrees than do pros. They tend to reroute the club more when striving for more distance. They typically engage the big muscles of the arms when targeting a longer tee ball, while the pros simply fire the hips faster and spin out just a bit. Amateurs also leave weight on the back foot with alarming regularity and a push never helps a harder-hit ball.
My conclusion is that professionals were gouging from no more than five to ten yards laterally off the fairway. They had a clear shot into the green and moderately-thick grass from which to scoop the ball. Amateurs tend to miss to a greater degree laterally and encounter thicker grasses (if they find the ball at all!) Oh, one last thing: swing speed. Professionals swing faster/stronger than we do, one more reason that their gouges do not resemble ours.
If the long ball is your thing, know the consequences. You can still hit the ball hard with a fairway metal or hybrid. You won’t be gouging as much, though, but you might have to hit the occasional seven-iron from a clean, fairway lie.