Golf Is a Series of Independent Decisions

I’ve just released a new article that you can read here. The concept is something that’s taken me about 25 years to grasp, and I hope it can help all of you!

Please discuss in this thread when you’ve had a chance to read :grinning:


One of the things i have been thinking about a lot in golf is the sunk cost fallacy… it’s parallel to this idea… at the end of the day, the ball doesn’t care how many times you have hit it.

Yet we will punch out to 150 yards and think “ok, now I need to make par”… this is as flawed as sitting at 150 yards and expecting to make birdie. My average strokes from 150 yards is likely over three. Making bogey after punching out would be a good result!

I’ve tried to change my mentality to “what’s the best play for me right now?” Ignoring my score, and focusing on making the best decision for that shot… my goal for next season is to avoid compounding mistakes and thus avoid the big numbers… and on good holes, to put myself in position to make par.

I’m hopeful that focusing on the shot in front of me will help improve my overall scoring.


Love this article Jon. For me the toughest part is ignoring past mistakes. There are always four or five shots on the course that have been giving me trouble that I let affect my decisions going forward.

The thing I’m still trying to get my head around is the part of the article that says which side you miss an approach shot doesn’t affect score. I always try to avoid short-siding myself on approach shots. Now you’re telling me I shouldn’t be doing that?


The data I was showing was from tee shots (not approach shots). So if you are “chasing an angle” off the tee for one side of the fairway it was showing that having what some would consider a better angle doesn’t do much to lower your score. Long story short, play the line off the tee that gives you the best opportunity to keep it in play and avoid big trouble, don’t worry about the pin position.


That is most of the battle out there!


Wow, I need to read it more closely. I was looking at the data that showed pins tucked on the right and left corner of the green and thought it said if you miss on the opposite side you lose strokes.

On the short siding front, I’m still working on aiming at the fat part of the green, but I think the best approach is to define the biggest circle you can as “safe” and aim to the middle of that… so it should naturally move you away from being short sided.


The picture is a little confusing at first, so no worries! I think it is a real eye opener that the best players in the world don’t seem to gain any kind of advantage from having a clearer angle to the hole. @LouStagner has done a great job dispelling all of the myths that have existed amongst golfers


Great summary of EVERYTHING I wish 16 year old me would have known.


Wow this is a good one puts it into perspective. I am always looking for stats like this to bring the game back to reality. I never would have thought missing the intended angle was something that would actually cost you strokes, but it makes sense. Funny thing is I try to make angles and what the article touches on is exactly what happens, I often times get myself out of position. Guess it’s back to the Phil Mickelson approach, “High. Nasty. Bombs!” It did make perfect sense though in part because when you miss an angle that you’re trying for, it’s almost as if you tell yourself you made a bad shot. Play your game the day you show up, if you’re hitting fades, draws, or straight, play it to with that shot to the middle of the fairway, taking the trouble out of play and reducing your stress level. Thanks for the perspective @jon


Glad I could help, that’s what I’m here for! It also doesn’t hurt to remind myself of these concepts :grinning:

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Thank you! That idea was festering in my brain for several months, so it was good to finally get it out.

So I should continue to try to not short-side myself on approach shots! Good. All is right with the world. :grinning:

Yes! Short siding yourself is definitely going to add strokes to your hole versus landing the ball on the “fat side” of the pin. The pros are more skilled at saving par in those situations, but for recreational golfers, it’s even more important to manage those misses the best you can through club and target selection.


Loved the article Jon!!

I remember Justin Rose used a similar concept in that if he hit a bad shot, he’d use the walk between shots to process it and also confirm mentallly, “you can’t change the past” so he could let it go and not try and chase the hole.

Amazing how obvious it is and yet we all have that 3 or 4 hole slide in a round.

Loving the content!!

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Jon’s article suggests to me to aim away from the biggest danger. On some holes that will mean not short siding yourself but on others it could be a difficult bunker or slope or high rough.

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Each hole is different, but I think the overarching concept with stats is that you’ll save way more shots than you’ll gain by avoiding big trouble rather than pulling off “hero shots”


I think you bring up an important point here about why walking the course can be beneficial for your game. I find that when you’re riding on a cart, it removes this time between shots to reset yourself mentally, but more importantly, give yourself time to think about the upcoming shot.


Jon, in Europe we walk everywhere (carry) and you’re right he helps slow everything down.

Here in Flroida due to heat you have to ride and it does speed up the round but like you said, there is no time for reflection and processing what is ahead.