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Dispersion pattern. It’s a phrase you might not be familiar with, but after reading this, it may well change the way you think about course management.

If you’re someone who tracks your stats on the golf course, you probably know that you’re more likely to miss an approach shot short, rather than long. In fact, Shot Scope data shows that for a 15-handicap golfer, a shot from 150 yards is going to miss the green short 43% of the time. Only 5% of misses are long of the putting surface.

That’s all well and good, but is there more to approach strategy than purely taking an extra club?

According to professional golfer Elliot Bradley, dispersion pattern tilt can play a big part in where you should be aiming. And when you listen to his explanation, you’ll probably agree.

“If I asked you to hit a thousand shots at your target, what most people think would happen is these thousand shots would end up scattered around in a big circle around the target. But, that’s not what happens,” the coach explains on his TikTok channel.

Course management golf
At the top of Bradley’s page is what you think a dispersion pattern looks like, but the bottom of the page is more accurate. (Credit: Elliot Bradley)

“For example, if you’ve got a 7-iron loft and you miss right, it’s probably going to play closer to an 8-iron, because you’re adding loft as you open the face. If you miss left, it’s probably going to play closer to a 6-iron because you’re de-lofting as you close the face. Missing left makes the ball go further, missing right makes the ball go shorter.”

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To put that into context, Bradley uses the 12th hole at Augusta National as an example.

There’s an old adage that left-handers tend to do well at the Masters venue, and while tee shots on par-4s and par-5s undoubtedly play a part, the most intimidating tee shot on the course might also hold some answers.

“This is exactly why the 12th hole at the Masters plays so tough,” he continues.

“If you think about that same shot pattern for a right-handed golfer, if they’re going for the front right flag, and they get the short-right and long-left, look where that overlaps. Some of their shots will go on the green, but some of them will go in the water – short-right, but some of them will go in the bunker, long-left.

Augusta national 12th hole strategy
Here you can see a right-hander’s dispersion pattern at the 12th hole at Augusta National. (Credit: Elliot Bradley/TikTok)

“If I was to draw the same green with the same pin, you flip it (the shot dispersion), the other way around. The left-hander goes short-left or long-right with their misses, if they’re going for the same target. The fact it’s reversed fits much better for that green.”

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While most of us aren’t going to play at Augusta National anytime soon, this concept can be applied to any approach shot on the golf course, particularly if you have trouble surrounding the green.

For example, if the green you’re playing to has trouble that is short and to the left (or right if you’re a left-hander), you might be able to get a little more aggressive with your strategy. If you miss left, you’re more likely to miss long than short.

Could this be the answer to hitting more greens and shooting lower scores? We’re certainly taking it into account the next time we’re on the course.

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Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

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