The dreaded front pin

Why it’s harder to score well when the pin is closer to you, despite (and because of) the pin being closer to you.

by Mike Davies

You’d think that having the pin 20 yards closer to you because it’s at the front of the green would be a benefit.

Well, you’d think that if you don’t play much golf, I suppose, because anyone who plays more than a dozen times a year will tell you (I think…hopefully it’s not just me) that a hole is harder the closer the pin is to the front edge of the green.

There are a few reasons for this, in my experience.

First, you always want to be putting uphill if you can manage it, and since greens are generally sloped so that the front is lower than the back, so as to be more receptive for approach shots, this means, in general, you want to leave the ball short of the flag more often than not. When the pin is only four paces on, you either don’t have this option, or you’re risking leaving the ball short of the green and putting through grass that isn’t designed to putt through.

Second, if you do miss your approach shot and don’t find the green, your pitch to the hole is going to be the most difficult with a front pin location (again, we’re speaking in general terms here). If you miss the green long, you’re pitching onto an overall downhill slope and trying to keep the ball from running off the front, or playing it safe and leaving yourself that downhill putt that I said earlier you don’t want. If you miss on either side, you’ve got a small target to shoot at if the pin is in the front (because of how math and geometry works), and if you miss short, well, refer to my earlier discussion about putting through grass that’s not meant for it.

Or maybe it’s all in my head and I’ve just convinced myself it’s a harder place for the pin to be, and that’s why I score worse on holes with a front pin.

Thoughts? Is there a particular pin placement you think is most difficult? Have you justified it as thoroughly as I have? Let me know.

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