I frequently get asked the question, “What statistics can I use to measure my entire game?”
The issue is that while there are many advanced methods of statistics to use, they are often very cumbersome and golfers tend to forget to record their score, take too long to record the metrics, or end up inaccurately recording their metrics. That leads to a skewed analysis of their game.
I’ve done countless hours of research on the game, and usually have a pretty good idea on how I performed in each area after a round, but I still use certain metrics to assist with that analysis so I can schedule my practice accordingly.
One of the main scores I like to keep is a metric I created in the 2013 Pro Golf Synopsis called the 15/5 Score. The scoring system goes like this:
- Give yourself +1 point if your par save is within 5 feet of the hole.
- Give yourself +2 points if you have a birdie opportunity inside 15 feet of the hole.
- Give yourself +3 points if you have an eagle opportunity inside 15 feet of the hole.
- Take away -3 points if your par save is not within 5 feet of the hole.
For bogey shooters, you can alter this score by giving yourself +1 point if your bogey putt is within 5 feet of the hole and use that as the baseline.
I also only give one set of points for each hole. If I have a 12-foot birdie putt and hit the putt 6-feet past the cup, I only give myself +2 points for the birdie putt inside 15 feet. This is important to note because we can better decipher our putting skill using this methodology. I will go into that later in this article.
Another thing I like to keep track of is what I call “impedes.” These are any of the following:
- Ball goes O.B.
- Ball goes into the water
- Ball goes into a fairway bunker
- Ball goes into the tall rough
- Ball goes into the trees
- Anytime I have to hit above, below or around a tree
- Ball ends up in a divot
- Ball is plugged in a greenside bunker
- Ball goes into the greenside bunker on a par-3
I call them impedes because these are all shots where advancing the ball is impeded. Even if I’m behind a tree and can fairly easily clear the tree and put the ball on the green, I consider that an impede because that tree is still obstructing my advancement of the ball to the hole.
As far as the ball going into a divot, it is about things that impede your advancement to the hole, not about what is fair. You will find that when you can limit your impedes, you will often shoot a much better score than you typically would performing the same way from tee to green.
The other metrics I keep are:
- Fairway Hit
- Green In Regulation Hit
- Putts on the Hole
I am NOT a big fan of those metrics because they are woefully incomplete and misleading. But, combined with your total score, impedes and the 15/5 Score, we can better deduct how well we performed in certain parts of the game. These aren’t time consuming or cumbersome, but they can be very helpful metrics to record.
Here is an analysis of the points system of a recent round I completed. I will give my analysis of each round as well:
With the 15/5 Score, typically +10 will equate to around even par. This in part makes the analytics fairly easy; if the 15/5 score is at +10 and I shot above par, then we know that it was likely due to short game and putting miscues. Conversely, if I shoot even par and have a 15/5 score of less than +10, then we know that I was likely getting hot with the putter.
If I were to make a 25-foot putt for birdie, my 15/5 score would only be +1, but I still made the birdie. On the flip side, if I hit a chip shot to 3 feet and miss the putt and make bogey, my 15/5 score is still +1 and hence it helps dictate how well we are striking the ball versus how well we are putting.
In the scenario above, it is a little less clear since I shot 73 (2-over par), but had a 15/5 score of +6. This would indicate that my ball striking and short game/putting were in balance. Given that I shot a score of 2-over, my 15/5 score should have been around +6.
My total score was 2-over, so in order to improve upon that it usually means that the ball striking has to improve. When looking at the driving, I hit 9 out of 14 fairways which is not bad. More importantly, I only had two impeded shots. Upon further inspection, I played those holes where I had an impeded shot at -1-under. Therefore, the impeded shots were not overly damaging and I think it is safe to say that my driving was fine for this round, or at least not the reason why I did not break par.
We can then get a better idea of the iron play by looking at the Greens In Regulation (GIR). Since I was hitting the driver fairly well, I should have a good amount of GIR — and I did end up hitting 11 out of 18 Greens. But just as important, we need to look at the corresponding 15/5 scores per hole because hitting it close is more important than finding the green.
I hit a nice streak of hitting shots close on Nos. 8, 9 and 10 as I hit each shot inside 15 feet and converted the birdie try. Also, notice on the front nine that I had only 13 putts, which would be considered very good, but I had 19 putts on the back nine. That’s considered poor. However, I also hit 7 greens in regulation on the back nine. Furthermore, after the 10th hole, 5 out of the 6 GIR resulted in scores of +1 according to the 15/5 score, which means that I was hitting greens, but not hitting shots very close.
This gives an indication that my putting can stand room for improvement, but I had bigger issues with my performance with the irons. It was a bit windy that day, which makes it difficult to get approach shots close to the hole. But based on this round, I would say that iron play and putting should be given more focus.
Here’s a round from European Tour player Jamie Donaldson at the South Course at Torrey Pines:
We can see that Donaldson’s 15/5 Score was -1, while he shot even par for the round. Again, since his 15/5 score was low for his score, that indicates that his short game shots around the green and/or his putting was likely very good. And we can see that was clearly the case as Donaldson only hit 5/14 fairways, 10/18 Greens in Regulation and had two impeded shots.
On the flip side, he only had 27 putts and was 7 of 8 in scramble opportunities. We also see that Donaldson did not strike it well on the front nine, as his 15/5 Score was -10. On the back nine, however, he was far better as his 15/5 score was +9.
While I think there is the potential to have more accurate ways to analyze your entire game, I find the method I use to be very simple and practical. For bogey shooters, they can use the same type of 15/5 score, but they may want to alter the scoring system by 1 stroke (i.e. +2 points for a par putt inside 15 feet, +1 point for bogey putt inside 5 feet, etc). This still allows for the bogey golfer to accurately analyze their game, but also stresses the main point of the 15/5 Score — getting the ball closer to the hole.
Mondays Off: How is the new PGA schedule looking? Gross golf bag cleaning story!
The new PGA schedule is out and how will so much major golf look in the fall. What golf gear would you buy with your stimulus check if you could blow it all on golf? Knudson has a gross story about cleaning out a golf bag.
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Tiger at the Masters: The 3 that got away
This time last year, Tiger Woods earned his fifth green jacket at the 2019 Masters, breaking a 14-year drought at Augusta National and completing a storybook career comeback (see Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters WITB here).
Between his 2005 and 2019 victories, Woods gave himself several chances to reclaim the green jacket, but for one reason or another, the championship continuously eluded the 15-time major winner.
Looking back on that drought, three years in particular stick out in my mind where Woods (being the ruthless closer that he is) could, and maybe should, have capitalized on massive opportunities.
A unique tournament broke out at the 2007 Masters with chilly and windy conditions meaning we would see an over-par score winning the event for the first time in a generation.
Unusually however was the fact that Tiger Woods had got himself into a fantastic position heading into the final day’s play—one stroke back of the lead and in the final group.
By the first hole on Sunday, Woods had a share of the lead. A couple of holes later, and he was the sole leader. But instead of the game’s greatest ever closer doing what he does best, we saw the first small chink in Tiger’s major armor.
Unable to keep up with the improved scoring on Sunday, Woods finished the championship two strokes behind Zach Johnson. It was the first time Woods lost a major in which he held the lead at some point in the final round.
Summing up after the round why things hadn’t turned out the way the entire golf world expected, Woods said
“Looking back over the week I basically blew this tournament with two rounds where I had bogey, bogey finishes. That’s 4-over in two holes. The last two holes, you just can’t afford to do that and win major championships.”
In one of the most exciting final rounds in Masters history, an electric front-nine charge from Woods coupled with a Rory McIlroy collapse saw the then 35-year-old tied for the lead heading into the back nine.
After back-to-back pars on the challenging 10th and 11th holes, Woods found the green on the 12th before it all slipped away. A disastrous three-putt was followed by a deflating five on the par-5 13th and an agonizing near-miss for birdie on 14.
In typical defiant fashion, Woods then flushed a long iron on the par-5 15th to give him five feet for eagle and what would have been the outright lead. But he couldn’t find the cup.
Directly following his round, a visibly miffed Woods said
“I should have shot an easy 3- or 4-under on the back nine and I only posted even. But I’m right there in the thick of it and a bunch of guys have a chance. We’ll see what happens.”
What happened was eventual champion Charl Schwartzel did what Woods said he should have done—shooting 4 under on the back to win his first major.
Luck, or lack of, is a contentious topic when it comes to sports fans, but at the 2013 Masters, Woods’ shocking fate played out as if those on Mount Olympus were orchestrating the tournament.
Woods entered the 2013 Masters as the World Number One, brimming with confidence having won three out of his first five tournaments to start the year.
By Friday afternoon, Woods had cruised into a share of the lead, before crisply striking a wedge on the par-5 15th as he hunted for another birdie.
In a cruel twist of fate, Woods’ ball struck the pin and ricocheted back into the water. “Royally cheated!” shouted on-course announcer David Feherty. Nobody could argue otherwise.
A subsequent “bad drop” turned a probable birdie into a triple-bogey placing Woods behind the proverbial 8-ball for the rest of the tournament. The game’s ultimate closer should have been in the lead with two rounds to play on a front-runner’s paradise of a course; instead, he was in chase-mode. (From 1991-2012, 19 of the 22 winners came from the final group).
Woods tried to rally over the weekend, but if he didn’t think the 2013 Masters was ill-fated for himself by Friday evening, then he would have been excused to do so on the eighth hole on Saturday.
Had Woods’ golf ball missed the pin at 15 on that hot and humid Spring afternoon in 2013, then he not only wins, but he likely wins going away.
The Wedge Guy: Power Leak No. 1: Your grip
One of the things I like the best is when a friend or stranger asks me to take a look at their swing to see if I can help them. I never get into the “lesson” business, because that is the domain of our golf staff at the club. But I have spent a lifetime in this game, and have studied the golf swing pretty relentlessly. I also have been blessed with a pretty good eye.
So, the other day, I was out hitting some balls in the afternoon, and a good friend from the club asked if I’d take a look at where he is losing power. Darrell is a big guy and a good player, but not nearly as long as you would think he’d be. He plays with the “big dog” money game, which has a few really big hitters that can be quite intimidating.
I’ve played with Darrell enough to know exactly where his power leaks were, so when he came out to the range, I watched him hit a few and dropped the first one on him.
“It’s your grip!”
He, like so many amateur golfers, was holding the club too far out on the end, and much too high in his palms — not low in the fingers like you should. I’ve always been of the opinion that the grip is the most important fundamental in the entire golf swing. Without a solid and fundamentally sound hold on the golf club, the rest of the swing cannot function at its best. Hogan thought it was so important, he dedicated a whole chapter of “Five Lessons” to the subject.
You’ll see the occasional pretty good scorer at the club with a funky grip, but you never see a bad grip on tour. The golfer who has mastered a great grip is the most teachable there is.
In my opinion, the grip is only ‘personal’ to a small degree. Whether you like to overlap, interlock or use the full finger grip (not baseball)…whether you like to rotate your hands a little stronger or weaker . . . the fundamentals are the same, and they aren’t negotiable.
The club has to be in your fingers to allow the “lag” that builds power, and to allow or even force the optimum release of the club through impact. The last three fingers of the left hand have to control the club so that it can be pulled through the impact zone. The right hand hold is limited to the curling of the two middle fingers around the grip, and neither set of forefingers and thumbs should be engaged much at all. One of the best drills for any golfer is to hit balls with the right forefinger and thumb totally disengaged from the grip. Google “Hogan grip photos” and study them!!!!!!
So, with the changes in the grip I had Darrell make, he immediately began ripping drivers 15-20 yards further downrange than he had. The ball flight and even sound of the ball off the driver was more impressive. So we went out to play a few holes to see what happened.
Historically, Darrell is only 5-10 yards longer than me at best, and sometimes I outdrive him. But not anymore!! On those five holes we played late that afternoon, he consistently flew it out there 20-25 yards past my best drives.
And that made us both really happy!
Next Tuesday, I’ll talk about the second in this series on Power Leaks.
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