Some people don’t like math or math seems confusing to them. No matter how you look at the computer everything it does is based off a number system like Binary (Base-2), Octal (Base-8), or Hexa Decimal (Base-16). Because of this number system simple formulas may be used to help with the distance you hit the ball. You must however remember that different clubs and different balls are going to change the variables that are input into the formula, but with a little practice and maybe a couple of number changes you can dial your clubs in. That being said, you may need to add an unknown variable into the equation. As an example I will tell you that one of my friends uses almost the same formula that I do with one exception. He has to add an additional 5 yards to his shot with the clubs he is using. So I will add the unknown variable to the formula in case you find yourself falling short on shots or over hitting the shot.
Starting with the basics for the formulas I’m going to assign letter codes for each item.
- D = Distance – Most of the time this number is pretty accurate, but you will run into holes where you need to note that you may need to add an extra 5 to 10 yards to the distance.
- H = Height – This is pretty consistent but there are two formulas for height. If the height is uphill divide it by 2. If the height is downhill divide it by 3.
- W = wind – Angles on wind are the most difficult to figure however, I take the wind and divide by 2 regardless if it is with me or in my face.
- U = Unknown – Add or subtract this number for your clubs and balls.
So the basic formula is the following:
D (+/-) H (+/-) W (+/-) U
So using the following let me give you an example of how I use it.
- Distance to hole = 195 yards
- Height is = +20 (20 feet up so I divide by 2 which equals +10)
- Wind = +18 (18 wind in my face I divide by 2 which equals +9)
- Unknown = I do not have one.
195 (Distance) + 10 (Height) + 9 (Wind) (+/- U) = 214
Note: 214 is the distance to get there but remember that without a lofted club you will have roll, unless you have high level clubs that can stop quickly.
Example number 2:
- D = 158
- H = -30 (Downhill I take 30 divided by 3 = -10)
- W = -10 (Is with me -10 divided by 2 = -5)
158 – 10 – 5 (+/- U) = 143
On downhill I normally use my best judgment. The math is not perfect so I have a choice here. I could hit a full 145 club, or a full 140 club. Because the wind is behind me I would select the 140 option because the longer your ball is in the air the more the wind will push it. Now if the wind was in my face the 145 option would be better.
Update: This formula holds true to this day but you will find some holes are different. Especially if you are playing with the high level Clevelands. Let’s take a particular hole for example. Hole number 2 on Bethpage Black. I don’t remember the exact figures but lets say I’m 82 Yards with a 32 Ft. up and no wind. I divide the up by 3 which gives me a ballpark figure of 10. I now divide the 10 by 2 which gives me a 5. I only add 5 to the shot giving me a shot of 87. Now lets say I have 15 MPH wind in my face. Using the Clevelands I divide that by 3 which equals 5. Now my shot just became a 92.
Basically the high level Clevelands use a little different formula. Everything is divided by 3 including ups, downs, wind with you, wind in your face. There are a couple of holes like the one I mentioned above that do not play true to form, but 95% of the time dividing by 3 works perfect. Now what about rough? Well, the Clevelands slice through it like butter. If you are a little worried about it what I do is add half the larger number and round up. In 40 – 50% lie I will only add 3 with a full swing. I’ll write an article about these clubs and using them. Look for it.
Formula for greens
Now this gets really tricky especially since I am a firm putter. That being said I tend to over hit my putts which can lead to disaster if I miss. These formulas you may have to play with, but they will place you in the right ball park. Also remember that different courses the green speeds vary. For example Merion is a slower green speed for me and I add at least 1 extra foot in most cases. I don’t want to forget to mention that WGT tends to change green speeds from time to time as well. One day you can’t miss and the next day everything is long or short. Watch out when they have an update.
Green Speeds and the way I play them. Remember I over hit. My philosophy is that if it doesn’t get to the hole it never had a chance to make it. Also these numbers are flexible, so if I notice that I go more than 2 feet past the hole I change it. That being said, this is not written in stone it’s just a basic guide for putting, and your numbers may be different.
- Very Slow – Rated to roll 6.9 on a 10 foot putt. If I just add 3 I fall short of the hole or right at it. I add 5
- Slow – Rated 7.4 but adding 2.6 will once again leave me short or at the hole I add 4
- Standard – Rated 7.9 I add 3
- Fast – Rated 9 I add 2
- Very Fast – Rated 10 I add 1
- Tournament 11 – Rated at 11 but I subtract 2
- Tournament 12 – Rated at 12 but I subtract 4
- Championship 13 – Rated at 13 but I subtract 5
As you play different courses you will find out that some greens play slow and some greens play faster. On Merion for example I add an extra foot except on downhill. Downhill on Merion I take off an extra sometimes two.
The Ups and Downs!!
D (+/-) H
Regardless if the putt is up or down ALWAYS look past the hole at least 2 to 3 feet. I see way to many players come up short because they do not follow this simple little trick. Add the up and subtract the down. Yes, I have actually putted a 1 on a 10 foot putt and made it.
Keep in mind a few things when you are on the green to putt. First if you are in the 10 foot range do not subtract as much. For example if I’m 10 feet away on tournament 12 greens I do not subtract 4 but I will subtract 3. In the 5 foot range I normally only subtract 2. However, outside of the 10 foot range use the -4 subtraction on Tournament 12 greens. You will have to play with it a little to get comfortable. The key is not to make the birdie but to make the par. The birdies will come, and as you get closer and closer to the hole with practice you will see how it all works.
Now you are looking at a downhill putt. Yes you will subtract, but remember two things about downhill putts. The first is that even though you subtracted the correct amount you may still roll past the hole quite a bit. There is not a lot that you can do about that except trying to aim it correct for the angle.
Angles on the greens are another thing for me to mention. For example you land on the top of a hill and the flag is down from you. Remember that if you miss you will roll past the flag but you still want to give yourself a chance to make it. You judge the angle by where you think to place the ball at the top of the hill for the roll. You may be aiming way outside your comfort zone but the key here is to putt not to the hole but to the crest of the hill where you want the ball to start rolling down. You take your measurement from that point knowing that once it gets there it will start to roll down. Using this method does two things for you. First you have a better leave if you miss, but most importantly your ball was going in the right direction. Even if you miss normally the putt back has little to no angle, so you could still birdie that hole.
I hope this description helps you on the course and on the green. Remember that if you change clubs the unknown variable may come into play. The same goes for balls with extra distance and or course the amount of roll you have. As a tip I stay with the same equipment as long as I can before I make a change. Learning your clubs and distances is very important and each time you change you set before you a small little obstacle to add to the formula.
Leave comments or suggestions of your own below.