Meaning of 'Bomb and Gouge' in Golf

What is the bomb-and-gouge style of golf? What kind of golf is a bomb-and-gouge golfer playing? Basically, the term means paying more attention to distance off the tee, and less to accuracy: Hit it as far as you can (bomb it) and then, if necessary, muscle the ball out of the rough (gouge it).

Being able to hit the golf ball a long way on drives has always been an advantage in golf. But when "bomb and gouge" first entered the golf lexicon, it had negative connotations along with its descriptive quality. A "bomb and gouge" golfer, back in the day, was one who struggled to find fairways and, therefore, lost strokes because he or she was constantly having to deal with rough. And that negated their ability to control the flight of the ball into the green.

So it wasn't really an insult to call a golfer a bomb-and-gouger, but it did imply that golfer was wild off the tee and was costing himself strokes always hitting into the rough.

Not anymore. Today, the distance gains have been significant enough that bomb-and-gougers are closer to the ideal way to play top-level golf, at least on the PGA Tour and European Tour. In men's golf, the golfers who hit the ball the farthest now hit it so far that hitting into the rough, many times, isn't considered punitive at all. It's a trade-off the top tour golfers are willing to make for that extra yardage.

Why is that? Because driving distances are long enough now that a golfer who bombs it, but into the rough, is then still "gouging" it with a much shorter club. Say PGA Tour Winner X decides to sacrifice yardage in order to focus on accuracy and hitting fairways. So Golfer X hits a 285-yard drive on a 450-yard par-4. That golfer has 165 yards left to hole.

Now consider the bomb-and-gouger. He hits a 325-yard drive on that hole, and maybe misses the fairway and is in the rough. But he has only 125 yards left to the hole. Today's bomb-and-gouge golfer is making the determination that, because of improved strength of golfers, and because of improved spin characteristics of current golf clubs, they would rather have that shorter shot even if it's out of the rough than that longer approach from pristine fairway.

And the statistics on today's PGA Tour back up that bomb and gouge style of golf is the way to play — if you are good enough to pull it off. Most of us mere "regular" golfers, however, can't hit the ball anywhere near as far as the top pros, and are even farther from the level of the pros when it comes to playing out of rough.

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