Hole #5

The Pareto Principle works in golf and business!
Eighty percent of your score is influenced by 20 percent of your clubs: Driver, wedge and putter
Jack Sims
The Pareto Principle according to Wikepedia:

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule,[1] the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.[2][3] Business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.[3] It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., “80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.” Mathematically, where something is shared among a sufficiently large set of participants, there must be a number k between 50 and 100 such that k% is taken by (100 − k)% of the participants. k may vary from 50 (in the case of equal distribution) to nearly 100 (when a tiny number of participants account for almost all of the resource). There is nothing special about the number 80% mathematically, but many real systems have k somewhere around this region of intermediate imbalance in distribution.

In the first chapter I told you that 80% of a good golf swing is in the setup, and it also applies to the clubs that you use too. By the way I read recently in a golf magazine that Jack Nicklaus said he believes that 90% of a good golf swing is in the setup, so I guess that’s good enough for me. In golf, according to the rules you are allowed 14 clubs in your bag, and that includes your putter. The thing is that your putter is one incredible club and it absolutely can make or break any golfer. That one club alone is responsible for 40% of your shots no matter what your skill level. A player who shoots 100 will likely have about 40 putts; a 90 shooter will generally have 36 putts per round, a golfer who scores 80 needs about 32 putts; and a PGA Tour Pro who averages about 70 strokes per round will typically have 28 putts.

According to the traditional scoring, a round of golf that is played to par on a par 72 golf course takes 72 shots. So on the basis that if you reach every green in regulation, one for a par three, two for a par 4 and three for a par five. That leaves two putts for every green. And as golf is played over 18 holes, if you multiply 18 x 2, you will come up with thirty six putts, which is exactly 50% of the 72 strokes a scratch golfer should shoot. So here’s a piece of advice that I promise will help you with your game, spend 80% of your time on your driver, putter and wedge. 50% of your practice time should be spent on the short game; putting along with chipping, pitching, and sand play inside 50 yards.
Believe me when I tell you, a strong short game can make a poor ball striking round become reasonable and sometimes a great round. The putter and wedges can mask a multitude of sins that you might make with your full shots. Personally, I think that the short game and putting in particular is one of the strengths of my game, I am not a long hitter, but I know from experience that it can be very annoying to the guys you are playing with when you are seemingly out of a hole and you keep getting “up and down” all day to stay in the game and win more than your share of holes. As the famous saying goes, “A man who can putt is a match for anybody.” One of my golfing partners once said of me, “If it wasn’t for that flat stick, you would be a bag boy.” Initially I was a little offended, but later I realized that my putting gave me an incredible edge over him when we played together. Putting is what separates the winners from the also-rans on the tour each week as well.

Normally of course you putt on the greens, but many people, especially the ones who are not great chippers of the golf ball will putt from long distances from the green. I know players who will putt out of traps and from 60 feet off the green rather than chip.


You don’t necessarily have to be a good golfer to be a good putter,
but you have to be a good putter to be a good golfer – Tony Lema

The short game is vitally important but you also need to be good and consistent off the tee too to play your best golf. The tee shot sets a player up strategically and psychologically for the hole. The first stroke on a hole – your drive – has a major impact on your score and your enjoyment!! The approach shot from 50 – 100 yards with your wedge is also a crucial skill. Spend a total of about 30% of your practice time on these skills. This will unquestionably pay dividends over time. Spend the remaining 20% of your practice time on random shots” – the shots that you “need” – this is individual based on your game and the style of course that you typically play. For example, if you play a long course you may need to be proficient with fairway metals. Or, if you play in a lot of wind you may need to be able to “knock down” (play a lower “flighted” shot) your iron shots into the green.

What are the other clubs you use most frequently, it probably varies, but the chances are if you are like most players, you use your driver on at least 10 holes and use either an iron or a lesser wood on four holes. So now if we add the 50 putts to and the 10 drives and four others we are up to 64 strokes out of 72. And if you are like any other player you have to chip around the greens or splash out of bunkers you probably use your sand wedge or your pitching wedge for those types of shots, is that fair? So let’s say that you chip or splash at least eight times well that then adds up to 72 shots just so happens to add up to 100% of the shots you will use in a round of golf.

“The short game”. Those are the magic words – Harvey Penick


The lesson here is to recognize where your “bread is buttered” in respect to how you get your score. Practice the skills and shots that will have the biggest impact on your “bottom line” – tee shots, putting, chipping, pitching and greenside sand play. The thing is that to perform well in golf it is all about hitting as many greens in regulation (GIR) as possible, minimize tee shot errors – get the ball into play safely (out the rough, trees and water as often as possible). it’s all about the short game; you have probably heard the expression: “Drive for show and putt for dough.” Let’s change that slightly to, “Drive, putt, and chip for dough.” Spend 80% of your practice time on your tee shots and the short game, chipping, pitching, sand play and putting and watch your scores come down and, maybe more importantly, your “smiles per round” go up!