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The real top 10: PGA Tour Power Rankings

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By Nick DeConti

GolfWRX Contributor

PGA Tour player performance is something that fans and media alike are always measuring and sharing their opinions about. When these matters are discussed between friends, enemies, co-workers, spouses, in-laws – there is always some disagreement. Some people like to measure the entire season’s performance when evaluating a golfer, and some employ the “What have you done for me lately?” school of thought. I always thought there was something to be said for both sides.

I wanted to find a way that I can measure a Tour player’s performance over the course of a season, but also keep in mind how hot (or cold) a player is to help me predict what they may (or may not) do in the future. The FedEx Cup standings do a good job of tracking a player’s season, but let’s look at it this way: if you only played in two PGA Tour tournaments and won them, you would have 1,000 FedEx Cup points (assuming one of them wasn’t a major). With those numbers at this time of the season, you could play in every other tournament, not make a cut, and be in 15th place in the FedEx cup standings. Win only one tournament and you’re still good for 61st! What I’m telling you is that you can’t judge a golfer by those standings alone.

So I invented a system that takes those FedEx Cup standings, put them through a series of number crunches and put together my own Power Ranking to give you a mix of how good these players actually are, meshing together their season performance and recent performance in an effort to quell the arguments between you and your loved (or not so loved) ones.

1. Jason Dufner

Dufner has been the talk of the TOUR this year, rightly so based on his performance. Although not active this week at The Travelers, he’s been in the top 5 his last two tournaments, and one of three players this season with 2 wins.

2. Webb Simpson

With a win at the U.S Open, we could be witnessing the growth of a superstar in Webb Simpson. Webb made 11 consecutive cuts earlier this season, letting us know that we should get used to seeing Webb on the Sunday leaderboard. Webb finished T29 at the Travelers.

3. Matt Kuchar

Coming off of a T8 at the Travelers Championship this week, Kuchar has not missed a cut all season, and also won The PLAYERS Championship in May. Kuchar has been playing great golf all season and is currently in very good form.

4. Jim Furyk

With Furyk’s worst finish being T13 over his past month of play, there’s no doubt he would be close to the top of this list. Furyk has played phenomenal golf as of late, highlighted by his T4 finish at the U.S. Open.

5. Rickie Fowler

After winning his first career tournament at the Wells Fargo in May, Rickie followed that performance up with back-to-back top-5 finishes in his next two tournaments. It has really been a coming out season for Rickie, and it seems he’s developed into the player people thought he would be coming out of college.

6. Hunter Mahan

Hunter put together another solid week finishing T11 at the Travelers this week, adding another good finish to a consistent season this year in which he has one two tournaments, one of them the WGC Accenture Match Play event where he took down Rory McIlroy in the final match.

7. Tiger Woods

Leaving all the “Is Tiger ‘back’ yet?” talk aside, there’s no way Tiger wouldn’t make this list by also winning two tournaments this year, one of them being earlier this month. His T21 finish at the U.S. Open is less than what we expected based on his earlier performance in the tournament, but if we’re expecting him to win majors this year, he’s a player to be reckoned with.

8. Marc Leishman

Leishman found his way into the top 10 this week by getting his first career win at the Travelers. Leishman has been having a good season this year, and also finished T3 at the HP Byron Nelson. He has certainly been flying under the radar, but we should be paying attention to him.

9. Phil Mickelson

Any time we see Phil’s name entered into a tournament, we expect a good finish. His performance at the U.S. Open was less than stellar, but with a win this season at Pebble Beach, we know that we can never count Phil out, and he’s always a threat to win.

10.  Ernie Els

A 9th place finish at the U.S. Open and a slew of top-10 finishes this year, the Big Easy continues to be a threat on TOUR. Although he hasn’t broken through this year with a win, his form has been so good lately that we should be expecting one from him soon.

 

See the chart below for the full rankings, and click here for more discussion in the forums.

 

1 Jason Dufner 15 1,849 2 6 2054.444444
2 Webb Simpson 15 1,298 1 5 551 1261.944444
3 Matt Kuchar 14 1,423 1 6 426 922.3148148
4 Jim Furyk 13 931 0 4 918 896.5185185
5 Rickie Fowler 16 1,197 1 5 652 886.6666667
6 Hunter Mahan 14 1,572 2 3 277 815.1111111
7 Tiger Woods 10 1,452 2 3 397 806.6666667
8 Marc Leishman 15 897 1 2 952 747.5
9 Phil Mickelson 14 1,313 1 5 536 680.8148148
10 Ernie Els 13 802 0 4 1,047 675.7592593
11 Justin Rose 12 1,169 1 5 680 649.4444444
12 Zach Johnson 16 1,420 1 4 429 631.1111111
13 John Huh 17 982 1 4 867 618.2962963
14 Michael Thompson 17 628 0 2 1,221 593.1111111
15 Johnson Wagner 18 1,142 1 4 707 571
16 John Rollins 17 719 0 5 1,130 565.8796296
17 Bubba Watson 12 1,617 1 5 232 539
18 John Senden 14 604 0 4 1,245 469.7777778
19 Graeme McDowell 10 812 0 3 1,037 451.1111111
20 Mark Wilson 17 940 1 2 909 443.8888889
21 Ben Crane 16 747 0 4 1,102 442.6666667
22 Ken Duke 19 622 0 5 1,227 437.7037037
23 Keegan Bradley 17 915 0 3 934 432.0833333
24 Charlie Wi 16 709 0 2 1,140 420.1481481
25 Brendon de Jonge 19 596 0 2 1,253 419.4074074
26 Dustin Johnson 10 898 1 4 951 415.7407407
27 Brian Davis 17 655 0 4 1,194 412.4074074
28 David Toms 14 524 0 3 1,325 407.5555556
29 Brandt Snedeker 12 888 1 3 961 394.6666667
30 D.A. Points 16 662 0 3 1,187 392.2962963
31 Charles Howell III 17 621 0 1 1,228 391
32 Cameron Tringale 17 603 0 4 1,246 379.6666667
33 Carl Pettersson 16 1,258 1 4 591 372.7407407
34 Bo Van Pelt 15 664 0 5 1,185 368.8888889
35 Kevin Na 17 779 0 5 1,070 367.8611111
36 Charley Hoffman 17 579 0 2 1,270 364.5555556
37 George McNeill 17 573 1 1 1,276 360.7777778
38 Padraig Harrington 12 538 0 3 1,311 358.6666667
39 Seung-Yul Noh 19 507 0 2 1,342 356.7777778
40 Ryan Palmer 15 641 0 4 1,208 356.1111111
41 Matt Every 15 641 0 5 1,208 356.1111111
42 Martin Laird 15 847 0 3 1,002 352.9166667
43 Rory Sabbatini 17 545 0 2 1,304 343.1481481
44 Rory McIlroy 9 1,372 1 5 477 343
45 Jonathan Byrd 14 655 0 5 1,194 339.6296296
46 Steve Stricker 10 911 1 4 938 337.4074074
47 Kevin Chappell 18 333 0 1 1,516 333
48 Kevin Stadler 16 561 0 3 1,288 332.4444444
49 Kyle Stanley 18 992 1 2 857 330.6666667
50 Sang-Moon Bae 17 510 0 2 1,339 321.1111111
51 Aaron Baddeley 16 535 0 2 1,314 317.037037
52 Robert Garrigus 16 709 0 3 1,140 315.1111111
53 Jeff Overton 17 495 0 2 1,354 311.6666667
54 Bud Cauley 17 492 0 2 1,357 309.7777778
55 Lee Westwood 8 690 0 5 1,159 306.6666667
56 Louis Oosthuizen 12 690 0 2 1,159 306.6666667
57 Scott Piercy 17 485 0 1 1,364 305.3703704
58 Jimmy Walker 17 483 0 3 1,366 304.1111111
59 Luke Donald 10 1,070 1 4 779 297.2222222
60 Greg Chalmers 17 464 0 1,385 292.1481481
61 Ryan Moore 15 518 0 3 1,331 287.7777778
62 Harris English 17 455 0 2 1,394 286.4814815
63 John Merrick 17 454 0 1 1,395 285.8518519
64 Blake Adams 20 383 0 1 1,466 283.7037037
65 Greg Owen 16 477 0 2 1,372 282.6666667
66 Chris Stroud 16 469 0 2 1,380 277.9259259
67 Sean O’Hair 14 518 0 1 1,331 268.5925926
68 Pat Perez 15 473 0 1 1,376 262.7777778
69 Tommy Gainey 20 350 0 1 1,499 259.2592593
70 Bryce Molder 15 466 0 1 1,383 258.8888889
71 Nick Watney 15 463 0 2 1,386 257.2222222
72 Martin Flores 19 365 0 1 1,484 256.8518519
73 Bill Haas 15 922 1 2 927 256.1111111
74 Vijay Singh 16 429 0 1 1,420 254.2222222
75 James Driscoll 17 400 0 2 1,449 251.8518519
76 Colt Knost 18 370 0 2 1,479 246.6666667
77 Robert Allenby 16 415 0 2 1,434 245.9259259
78 Spencer Levin 19 695 0 3 1,154 244.537037
79 J.B. Holmes 15 440 0 2 1,409 244.4444444
80 John Mallinger 16 410 0 1 1,439 242.962963
81 Tom Gillis 15 432 0 1 1,417 240
82 Ricky Barnes 17 376 0 1 1,473 236.7407407
83 Jonas Blixt 14 455 0 3 1,394 235.9259259
84 Brian Harman 19 332 0 1,517 233.6296296
85 Chad Campbell 17 370 0 1 1,479 232.962963
86 Geoff Ogilvy 14 445 0 1,404 230.7407407
87 J.J. Henry 19 325 0 2 1,524 228.7037037
88 Jeff Maggert 17 363 0 1 1,486 228.5555556
89 David Mathis 20 307 0 1 1,542 227.4074074
90 David Hearn 17 350 0 1 1,499 220.3703704
91 Brian Gay 16 357 0 2 1,492 211.5555556
92 Billy Mayfair 17 335 0 1 1,514 210.9259259
93 Daniel Summerhays 15 379 0 3 1,470 210.5555556
94 Bob Estes 14 402 0 1 1,447 208.4444444
95 Tim Herron 19 296 0 1,553 208.2962963
96 K.J. Choi 13 423 0 1 1,426 203.6666667
97 Will Claxton 17 323 0 1 1,526 203.3703704
98 Harrison Frazar 14 386 0 2 1,463 200.1481481
99 Kris Blanks 20 268 0 1,581 198.5185185
100 Ben Curtis 8 886 1 3 963 196.8888889
101 Andres Romero 14 377 0 1 1,472 195.4814815
102 Fredrik Jacobson 12 434 0 1 1,415 192.8888889
103 Kevin Streelman 17 306 0 2 1,543 192.6666667
104 William McGirt 18 289 0 1,560 192.6666667
105 Roberto Castro 15 330 0 1,519 183.3333333
106 J.J. Killeen 22 222 0 1,627 180.8888889
107 Graham DeLaet 16 305 0 2 1,544 180.7407407
108 Boo Weekley 14 335 0 2 1,514 173.7037037
109 Brendan Steele 16 288 0 2 1,561 170.6666667
110 Kyle Reifers 17 268 0 1,581 168.7407407
111 Dicky Pride 9 503 0 3 1,346 167.6666667
112 Vaughn Taylor 16 280 0 1,569 165.9259259
113 Chris Kirk 14 318 0 2 1,531 164.8888889
114 Josh Teater 18 245 0 1,604 163.3333333
115 Henrik Stenson 11 394 0 1 1,455 160.5185185
116 Trevor Immelman 14 309 0 1,540 160.2222222
117 Chris DiMarco 19 223 0 1,626 156.9259259
118 Rod Pampling 16 261 0 1 1,588 154.6666667
119 Heath Slocum 17 236 0 1,613 148.5925926
120 Ian Poulter 9 443 0 2 1,406 147.6666667
121 Bobby Gates 18 220 0 1 1,629 146.6666667
122 Jerry Kelly 16 242 0 1,607 143.4074074
123 Gary Christian 17 225 0 1,624 141.6666667
124 Camilo Villegas 15 251 0 1,598 139.4444444
125 Erik Compton 15 248 0 1,601 137.7777778
126 Chez Reavie 17 218 0 1,631 137.2592593
127 Gary Woodland 14 258 0 1,591 133.7777778
128 Brandt Jobe 17 211 0 1 1,638 132.8518519
129 Jhonattan Vegas 17 211 0 1 1,638 132.8518519
130 Sergio Garcia 9 396 0 1 1,453 132
131 Nick O’Hern 16 221 0 1 1,628 130.962963
132 Hunter Haas 19 186 0 1 1,663 130.8888889
133 Brendon Todd 18 196 0 1 1,653 130.6666667
134 Stewart Cink 14 248 0 1,601 128.5925926
135 Bill Lunde 16 204 0 1,645 120.8888889
136 Davis Love III 10 323 0 1 1,526 119.6296296
137 Jason Bohn 17 187 0 1 1,662 117.7407407
138 Y.E. Yang 14 225 0 1,624 116.6666667
139 Charl Schwartzel 8 380 0 2 1,469 112.5925926
140 Jason Day 10 295 0 2 1,554 109.2592593
141 D.J. Trahan 16 184 0 1 1,665 109.037037
142 Justin Leonard 17 173 0 1 1,676 108.9259259
143 Sung Kang 20 146 0 1,703 108.1481481
144 Mark Anderson 14 205 0 1,644 106.2962963
145 Adam Scott 8 356 0 1 1,493 105.4814815
146 Tim Clark 11 256 0 1 1,593 104.2962963
147 Troy Matteson 19 147 0 1,702 103.4444444
148 Matt Bettencourt 20 139 0 1 1,710 102.962963
149 Danny Lee 15 181 0 1,668 100.5555556
150 Miguel Angel Carballo 15 179 0 1,670 99.44444444
151 Robert Karlsson 11 239 0 1,610 97.37037037
152 Scott Stallings 16 152 0 1,697 90.07407407
153 Jason Kokrak 17 143 0 1 1,706 90.03703704
154 Retief Goosen 8 200 0 1 1,649 88.88888889
155 Chris Couch 15 157 0 1,692 87.22222222
156 Derek Lamely 16 145 0 1,704 85.92592593
157 Stuart Appleby 14 156 0 1,693 80.88888889
158 Nathan Green 12 177 0 1,672 78.66666667
159 Michael Bradley 15 141 0 1,708 78.33333333
160 Kevin Kisner 14 149 0 1,700 77.25925926
161 Arjun Atwal 16 130 0 1,719 77.03703704
162 Stephen Ames 14 142 0 1,707 73.62962963
163 Rocco Mediate 14 136 0 1,713 70.51851852
164 Cameron Beckman 16 116 0 1,733 68.74074074
165 Ted Potter, Jr. 15 119 0 1,730 66.11111111
166 Richard H. Lee 14 127 0 1,722 65.85185185
167 Roland Thatcher 11 156 0 1 1,693 63.55555556
168 Angel Cabrera 13 131 0 1,718 63.07407407
169 Joe Ogilvie 17 98 0 1,751 61.7037037
170 Matt Jones 10 143 0 1 1,706 52.96296296
171 Joe Durant 8 178 0 1 1,671 52.74074074
172 Jarrod Lyle 7 199 0 1 1,650 51.59259259
173 Billy Hurley III 17 72 0 1,777 45.33333333
174 Briny Baird 13 92 0 1,757 44.2962963
175 Mathew Goggin 13 87 0 1,762 41.88888889
176 Russell Knox 13 84 0 1,765 40.44444444
177 Troy Kelly 14 76 0 1,773 39.40740741
178 Gavin Coles 13 81 0 1,768 39
179 Garth Mulroy 11 95 0 1,754 38.7037037
180 Jamie Lovemark 14 73 0 1,776 37.85185185
181 Scott Brown 14 72 0 1 1,777 37.33333333
182 Lee Janzen 8 125 0 1,724 37.03703704
183 Tommy Biershenk 17 57 0 1,792 35.88888889
184 Tom Pernice Jr. 14 63 0 1,786 32.66666667
185 Duffy Waldorf 7 123 0 1,726 31.88888889
186 Patrick Sheehan 11 73 0 1,776 29.74074074
187 Shaun Micheel 8 100 0 1,749 29.62962963
188 Alex Cejka 6 118 0 1,731 26.22222222
189 Daniel Chopra 11 64 0 1,785 26.07407407
190 Chris Riley 7 96 0 1,753 24.88888889
191 Charlie Beljan 12 49 0 1,800 21.77777778
192 John Daly 5 114 0 1,735 21.11111111
193 Billy Horschel 8 71 0 1,778 21.03703704
194 Rich Beem 7 81 0 1,768 21
195 Lucas Glover 11 47 0 1,802 19.14814815
196 Steven Bowditch 9 57 0 1,792 19
197 Ryuji Imada 17 30 0 1,819 18.88888889
198 Fred Couples 4 108 0 1,741 16
199 Marc Turnesa 6 64 0 1,785 14.22222222
200 Paul Goydos 6 64 0 1,785 14.22222222
201 Marco Dawson 12 28 0 1,821 12.44444444
202 Garrett Willis 7 47 0 1,802 12.18518519
203 Edward Loar 13 25 0 1,824 12.03703704
204 Steve Marino 6 54 0 1,795 12
205 Tim Petrovic 9 36 0 1,813 12
206 Anthony Kim 10 32 0 1,817 11.85185185
207 Todd Hamilton 4 70 0 1,779 10.37037037
208 Frank Lickliter II 5 56 0 1,793 10.37037037
209 Shane Bertsch 8 33 0 1,816 9.777777778
210 Steve Wheatcroft 12 22 0 1,827 9.777777778
211 Woody Austin 5 50 0 1,799 9.259259259
212 Kenny Perry 4 62 0 1,787 9.185185185
213 Will MacKenzie 4 55 0 1,794 8.148148148
214 Skip Kendall 4 53 0 1,796 7.851851852
215 Kent Jones 4 50 0 1,799 7.407407407
216 Richard S. Johnson 4 47 0 1,802 6.962962963
217 Fred Funk 4 47 0 1,802 6.962962963
218 Paul Stankowski 5 35 0 1,814 6.481481481
219 Michael Allen 3 52 0 1 1,797 5.777777778
220 David Duval 12 13 0 1,836 5.777777778
221 Robert Damron 5 30 0 1,819 5.555555556
222 Corey Pavin 2 67 0 1,782 4.962962963
223 Scott Verplank 7 17 0 1,832 4.407407407
224 Paul Casey 5 19 0 1,830 3.518518519
225 Hank Kuehne 8 10 0 1,839 2.962962963
226 Craig Barlow 4 18 0 1,831 2.666666667
227 Brett Wetterich 6 11 0 1,838 2.444444444
228 Alexandre Rocha 11 4 0 1,845 1.62962963
229 Robert Gamez 6 7 0 1,842 1.555555556
230 Stephen Gangluff 13 3 0 1,846 1.444444444
231 Brett Quigley 1 37 0 1,812 1.37037037
232 Bart Bryant 2 18 0 1,831 1.333333333
233 Zack Miller 6 5 0 1,844 1.111111111
234 Tom Lehman 1 25 0 1,824 0.925925926
235 Scott Dunlap 10 2 0 1,847 0.740740741
236 Jose Maria Olazabal 4 4 0 1,845 0.592592593
237 Neal Lancaster 5 2 0 1,847 0.37037037
238 Kevin Sutherland 4 2 0 1,847 0.296296296
239 Matt McQuillan 7 1 0 1,848 0.259259259
240 Peter Lonard 3 2 0 1,847 0.222222222
241 Omar Uresti 3 2 0 1,847 0.222222222
242 Jesper Parnevik 3 1 0 1,848 0.111111111
243 Ted Purdy 2 1 0 1,848 0.074074074
244 Kirk Triplett 3 0 1,849 0
As of June 25, 2012
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Nick is a true New Englander with a love for Boston sports, and carries a deep passion for golf and hockey. He played hockey collegiately, but has since focused mainly on golf. When Nick isn't working on his swing, you can find him sharing his sports opinions, or earning a living as chemist.

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Opinion & Analysis

A new NCAA transfer rule gets passed… and college coaches are NOT happy

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New rules just keep on coming from the NCAA; college coaches are not happy about this one.

In a summer of block buster coaching changes, the NCAA has done its best to stay atop the news cycle by making some significant changes, which will impact the recruitment process. In an article two months ago entitled “The effect the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf,” I spoke to college coaches about a new rule, which will not allow unofficial or official visits until September 1 of the players Junior Year. To go along with this rule, the NCAA has also put in place a new recruiting calendar which will limit the sum of the days of off campus recruiting between a head and assistant coach to 45 days starting August 1, 2018.

The 45-day rule will have several potential impacts for both recruits and assistant coaches. For recruits, it is likely that after a couple (2-3) evaluations, coaches will make offers and ask for speed responses to ensure they are not missing out on other options. I also think you will see far less assistant coaches recruiting, which ultimately hurts their opportunities to learn the art of recruitment.

The new transfer rule

In the past, players were subject to asking their present institution for either permission to contact other schools regarding transfer, or a full release.

Now, starting October 15, players can simply inform their institution of their intensions to leave and then start contacting other schools to find an opportunity. This is a drastic shift in policy, so I decided to poll college coaches to get their reactions.

The poll was conducted anonymously via Survey Monkey. Participation was optional and included 6 questions:

  1. New NCAA Legislation will allow players to transfer without a release starting October 2018. Do you support this rule change?
  2. Do you believe that this rule will have APR implications?
  3. Who do you think will benefit most from this rule?
  4. What are the benefits of allowing students to transfer without a release? What are the potential harms?
  5. New NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?
  6. What implications do you see for this rule?

In all, 62 Division I golf coaches responded, or about 10 percent of all Division I coaches in Men’s and Women’s Golf. The results show that 81.25 percent of DI coaches said that they do NOT support the rule change for transfers.

Also, 90 percent of coaches polled believe that the rule will have APR implications. APR is Academic Progress Rate which holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.

The APR is calculated as follows:

  • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
  • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
  • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.

Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships.

While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that under-perform academically over time.

The first penalty level limits teams to 16 hours of practice per week over five days (as opposed to 20 over six days), with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities.

A second level adds additional practice and competition reductions, either in the traditional or non-championship season, to the first-level penalties. The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, includes a menu of possible penalties, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

Clearly coaches are not happy about the move and feel that the rule unfairly benefits both the student athletes and major conference schools, who may have a swell of calls around middle of October as Student athletes play great fall golf and look to transfer. Although coaches are unhappy about the new rule, it is very difficult to predict what direct impact the rule will have on teams; coaches are extremely smart and understand recruiting and development within the frame work of college better than anyone can imagine. As a result, I think coaches will react in many ways which are impossible to predict.

The survey also asked, “new NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?” For this, coaches were more divided with 45 percent in favor of the rule, and 55 percent not.

Although coaches supported the legislation, many (41/62) suggested that it would potentially hurt international recruiting at tournaments like Doral and the Orange Bowl and they had, in the past, used December as a time to recruit.

As we move forward with these changes, here are some potential things that recruits, and their families should consider, including consequences of the rules:

  1. With a limit of 45 days and these transfer rules, it is likely that coaches will be doing significantly more investigation into a player’s personalities and family situation to make sure they know what they are getting.
  2. Coaches may also start skipping over better players in favor of kids they think will be a good fit and are likely to stay
  3. Rosters may get bigger, as coaches are trying to have larger numbers to potentially offset transfers

Unfortunately, we enter a new era of rules at the worst time; we have never had a more competent and deep group of college coaches, the clear majority of whom are tremendous stewards of the game. Hopefully this rule will have insignificant effect on the continued growth of college golf but only time will tell.

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Opinion & Analysis

Is golf actually a team sport?

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Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

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Opinion & Analysis

What is “feel” in putting… and how do you get it?

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You’re playing a course for the first time, so you arrive an hour early to warm-up. You make your way toward the practice green and you see a sign at the first tee that reads, “GREEN SPEED TODAY 11.”  That brings up two issues:

  1. How did they arrive at that number?
  2. How is that information valuable to me?

How did they arrive at that number?

They used what’s known as a stimpmeter — a device that’s used to measure the speed of a green. With a stimpmeter, the green’s surface is tested by rolling a ball down the 30-inch ramp that is tilted downward at a 20-degree angle. The number of feet the ball rolls after leaving the ramp is an indication of the green’s speed. The green-speed test is conducted on a flat surface. A total of three balls are rolled in three different directions. The three balls must then finish within eight inches of each other for the test to be valid.

For example, if the ball is rolled down the ramp and were to stop at 8 feet, the green would be running at an “8.” Were the ball to roll down the ramp and stop at 12 feet, the green would be running at a “12.”

Stimpmeter history

The stimpmeter was invented by Edward S. Stimpson, Sr., a Massachusetts State Amateur Champion and former Harvard Golf Team Captain. After attending the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he saw the need for a universal testing device after watching Gene Sarazen, who was at the top of his game, putt a ball off the green. He was of the opinion that the greens were unreasonably fast, but he had no way to prove it — thus the motivation for creating the invention.

The device is now used by superintendents to make sure all of their greens are rolling close to the same speed. This ensures that golfers are not guessing from one putt to another if a green is fast or slow based on the way it is maintained. The device is also used by tournament officials who want to make sure that green speed is not too severe.

Do Stimp readings matter for my game?

Not very much. That piece of abstract knowledge is of little value until you can translate it into your own personal feel for the speed of the putt. There is a method that will allow you to turn green speed into a legitimate feel, however, and you don’t even need a stimpmeter or a stimp reading to do it. I call it “Setting Your Own Stimpmeter.”

Before we get to how to do it, the first step is to determine if the putting green is the same speed as the greens on the course. The best source of information in this regard are the professionals working in the golf shop. They will be happy to share this information with you. You only need to ask. Assuming that the speed of the putting green is close to the speed of the greens on the course, you are ready to begin setting your own stimpmeter. This is done by inputting data into your neuromuscular system by rolling putts and visually observing the outcome.

Contrary to what most golfers believe, a golfer’s feel for distance is based in the eyes — not in the hands, which only records tactile information. It’s just like basketball. On the court, you look at the distance to the hoop and respond accordingly. While you would feel the ball in your hands, it doesn’t play a role in determining the proper distance to the hoop. Based on what you saw with your eyes, you would access the data that had been previously inputted through shooting practice.

Setting your own Stimpmeter

  1. Start by finding a location on the putting green that is flat and roughly 15 feet away from the fringe.
  2. Using five balls, start rolling putts one at a time toward the fringe. The objective is to roll them just hard enough for them to finish against the edge.
  3. You may be short of the fringe or long, but it is important that you do not judge the outcome— just observe, because the feel for distance is visually based.
  4. You should not try and judge the feel of the putt with your hands or any other part of your body. You can only process information in one sensory system at a time — that should be the eyes.
  5. You should continue to roll balls until you’ve reach the point that most of them are consistently finishing against the fringe. Once you can do that, you have successfully set you stimpmeter.

The key to the entire process is allowing yourself to make a subconscious connection between what your eyes have observed and the associated outcome. You must then trust what you have learned at a sub-conscious level. A conscious attempt to produce a given outcome will short-circuit the system. When it comes to judging speed, you must be prepared to surrender your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which is infinitely wiser and more capable of calculating speed. Want proof? Work through the steps I’ve outlined below. .

  1. After having loaded the data as described in the exercise above, pace off a 25-foot putt.
  2. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole as you would normally using your conscious mind to control the outcome.
  3. Mark the location of the five balls with a tee pushing them down until they are level with the surface of the green.
  4. Allow your eyes to work slowly from the ball to the hole while clearing your conscious mind of any thought.
  5. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole allowing your subconscious mind to control the outcome.
  6. Compare the proximity of the five putts that you just hit to those marked with a tee. What do you observe?

Did you have trouble clearing your mind of any conscious thought? Assuming that your conscious mind intruded at any point, the outcome would be negatively affected. You should then repeat the exercise but this time, emptying your mind of any thought. You will have mastered the technique when you are able to quiet your conscious mind and allow your subconscious to take over.

This technique will improve your proximity to the hole on longer putts. And you know what that means? Fewer three-putts!

Editor’s Note: Rod Lindenberg has authored a book entitled “The Three-Putt Solution”  that is now available through Amazon. 

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