Ten Golf Facts That Aren’t Always True

We've all heard the conventional wisdom and 'facts' handed down to us from generation to generation. Some of them are true but there are a lot that guide golfers down the wrong path.

Here are 10 interesting golf facts that belong in the pages of National Enquirer.

10 Golf facts you don't need to believe

1. Drive for show, putt for dough

Basically this means putting counts way more than driving the golf ball. Learning to putt will shave strokes off your score very quickly but if you're taking 7 shots to get to the green, what difference does it make if you one putt from 20 feet every hole?

If you struggle with the driver and can't hit a fairway or you lose balls out of bounds, why not scale back and get yourself a fairway wood or hybrid? These golf clubs are much easier to hit than a driver and with the extra loft, you might find you get more carry and distance with them than your driver. 

>>> Check out my guide on breaking 90 - there's a video of me hitting 6 iron off every tee <<<

2. Pros only swing at 75%

One look at Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson or Tiger Woods and you can see this isn't true. 

Here's Bubba swinging out of his shoes

3. You can't hit it long if you fade it

It's true you can't hit it far is you SLICE a ball but a fade is one of the most sought-after shots for it's consistency and accuracy off the tee. Dustin Johnson switched to hitting a power fade off the tee in 2015 and annihilated everybody and in fact picked up distance.

Guys like Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka can all hit it extremely long with a fade. You know who else was a fader? The great Jack Nicklaus. Later in his career, Tiger Woods adopted a fade to help with his back injury. He won his latest green jacket hitting a fade! 

Learn how to hit a fade like Rickie Fowler here

Here's Brooks Koepka smashing one with his power fade:

4. Practice makes perfect

Practice is essential to get better at pretty much anything but it needs to be perfect practice. Going to the range and beating out 40 balls in 20 minutes is going to do nothing for you. Missing 3 foot putts for an hour on a putting green will just kill your confidence. Flapping your wrists around at some chip shots on the chipping green only ingrains bad habits.

Instead, practice mindfully. Actually think about what you're trying to do and what you're trying to achieve by doing it. And then remember the feeling of doing it when you get it right so you can take it onto the course.

On the driving range, practice the basics. Practice alignment to the target by placing a club on the ground to align your feet and club to. When you hit balls, work your way through an imaginary round in your head, envisioning the holes you're playing and hitting the appropriate shots even the 20 yard pitches. 

Get into a practice bunker somewhere, anywhere and hit balls until you can get out in one. But please check out my bunker guide here so you practice it correctly. I love bunker shots and I've used this technique since I was 12.

Putting is important and often neglected so when you get a chance, maybe an hour or two per week, go hit some putts and take a look at my guide to putting here. I especially love short putts inside 6 feet where you just ram it home.  It took quite a few hours of practicing keeping my head down forever and having the confidence to go with less break and hit the putt firmer. You can do it too.

5. All putts break toward the water

I've been the victim of this one and the one where the ball always breaks toward the burnt grass on the edge of the cup. I've even had caddies tell me it has to break toward the water even when I knew it didn't!

While the drainage system might want to use slopes toward water, read your putts carefully and never rely on this old wive's tale!

6. Ball above your feet, aim right

Yeah, we've all been standing there with the ball at knee level and of course first thing we do is aim 10 yards right of the green, because it's coming out left for sure!

And we're soon chipping from 10 yards right of the green! I can count on one hand the number of times I've hit the ball way left off this lie. And a lie it is!

7. Back spin is created by 'pinching' the ball against the ground

'I'm pinching it against the ground but it's not spinning'

I used to believe this so strongly that I started taking a 2 pound divot out of the earth on every approach shot! I left craters in the fairways because I thought I was creating more spin. And guess what, I started getting less and less spin.

The USGA has a great video explaining how back spin is actually created and it's simple. It's just the friction between the club face with grooves and the golf ball. That's it! More back spin comes from a steeper angle of attack. Check out the video here.

8. Humidity means heavier air and less distance

Growing up I played most of my golf at altitude. Obviously the thinner air at 5000 feet did lead to bigger distance for me but moving to South East Asia, I expected that the humidity would mean the thick moist air would suck up my golf ball without any distance.

While I can't talk about cold air humidity, I can honestly say I have never hit the golf ball as far as I do here in Thailand and Malaysia. On a typical 93° F (34° C) day in the tropics, I can pump a drive 320 yards right next to the ocean. No altitude at all. Perhaps it's the extra warmth but it's humid here as anyone can tell you.

Golf Digest agree that good players looking for more distance want shirt-soaking humidity in this article.

9. You're lifting your head

This is 100% true for putts - you can lift your head and miss the putt. I am a strong advocate for never ever lifting your head on putts especially inside 10 feet. Just listen for that rattle! But for everything else...

For shots from tee to green, "hey man keep your head down" isn't really good advice.

We 'top' the golf ball because we change the angle of our spine during the swing. You'll notice you normally hit topped shots when you try hit it too hard. If you look at any golfer, the turning of the shoulders and arms and hips bring about a turn of the head along the target line. It's almost impossible to "life your head" on a golf shot when swinging at speed.

Here are two videos clearly explaining the problem: 

10. The average PGA tour pro hits up on the ball with the driver

Actually the statistics show the average pro hits down on the ball. 

-1.3° angle of attack (Trackman.com)

Does this mean you should hit down on your driver? Not exactly! Notice the average swing speed of the driver is 113 mph for a pro so that extra speed allows them to get the ball up in the air with a low lofted club like the driver. The reduced launch angle also gives them more accuracy swinging at those crazy speeds.

For the average golfer who swings 85 to 95 mph, you want to be hitting up on the golf ball to increase distance and carry. Ideal launch angle can be anywhere between 14 and 17 degrees for us mere mortals. That's why I always say go for the driver with more loft (11 degrees to 14 degrees) and if you still can't hit the thing in the fairway, get yourself a beautiful four wood with loads of loft and forgiveness!

Last Updated on May 12, 2022 by Matt

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