Which is more important: Hitting bombs or hitting drives down the middle?
On the 484-yard, par-4 4th hole at TPC River Highlands, Brendon Todd hit his tee shot 267 yards down the left side of the fairway. His playing partner in the final pairing of the final round of the Travelers Championship, Dustin Johnson, also hit it left. But in the rough. But 74 yards farther.
Todd made a par. Johnson made a birdie. Todd, from 230 yards out, knocked his second shot to within 49 feet of the hole, and he two-putted. Johnson, from 164 yards out, knocked his approach to within 4 feet, and he one-putted.
Johnson would go on to win the tournament.
Johnson, or more his style off the tee when compared to Todd, won in an informal poll among GOLF.com readers, too.
Following play at the Travelers, followers of our Facebook group, How to Hit Every Shot, were informally asked, “What ability would you rather have – the ability to hit most every fairway, but it will be relatively short, or the ability to hit it long, but spray it a bit? You can’t say both.” Fifty-eight members answered, with 30 agreeing with the Johnson approach, 21 taking the Todd tactic and seven being indifferent.
Compelling cases were made for grip it, rip it and let the golf balls fall where they may.
“Long and spray,” Daniel McKelvey wrote. “I can hit the green from the rough, no big deal. Factor in the mishit and let ‘er rip. WooooHooooo!”
Compelling cases were also made for straight and steady wins the race. Johnson did win the tournament. But entering the final round, Todd had hit 41 of 42 fairways. And led by two shots.
“As a short but usually straight hitter off the tee, I know no other way,” Gary Bolen wrote. “I’ll let my partners chop the cabbage while I enjoy my longer, far less impeded stroll up the short grass.”
Below is a sampling of some of the other answers, all of which can be found here. Answers have been edited just for clarity.
Ability to hit most every fairway, but it will be relatively short
“Straight and short,” Scott McLeod wrote. “My score’s dropped 5-10 strokes once I started hitting fairways regularly. In my last round, the lone double I had came from a misplaced drive that caused a drop.”
“I would like to keep my current distance, about 230, and hit more fairways,” Julian Capata wrote. “First cut is one thing, but for a high handicapper like me, punching under trees kills my scores.”
“Better golfers with faster swing speeds (and, of course, DJ and pros) can get out of trouble when long and convert,” Glenn Freedman wrote. “The average golfer like me gets lots of doubles and some triples when it’s long and in trouble. I go with shorter and on the fairways – I think it saves 4-6 strokes a round. Trouble begets trouble!”
Ability to hit it long, but spray it a bit
“Hit it long and spray it a bit,” Bradley Dial wrote. “Dustin Johnson seems to be doing pretty well with this strategy, and I would much rather have a short iron or wedge in my hand in the rough than a 5-iron from the middle of the fairway.”
“Tank it,” Dale Hartman wrote. “My game inside of 130 yards is way better than trying to hit a green at 170 yards. It’s hard to have a chance to make any birdies if I’m always having to try to chip it in for one.”
“Honestly I’m so used to hitting out of the rough by now, I’ll just take the distance,” Jacob James wrote. “If you look at last year’s driving accuracy leaders versus driving distance leaders, the distance guys seem to have a higher pedigree, which seems to suggest the sprayers with distance have the edge.”