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Opinion & Analysis

Small Changes Can Bring Big Results

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Now, that October 2017 has come to a close, many golfers — both amateur and professional — have seen their seasons come to an end. Others (college golfers, PGA Tour players, and southern hemisphere residents) are entering a new season. Still others, namely 850 PGA Tour Q-School hopefuls, have seen their seasons start and end with the completion of First Stage. Another 400 Web.com Tour hopefuls will be without playing status at the end of the Q-School process.

So what do most of these millions of golfers have in common? They want, for many different reasons, to improve their games. And what will they do? Probably what they’ve done in the past. Namely, reflection, play, lessons, and practice. Same old, same old.

I think, especially if I had dropped a large chunk of change on Q-School entry fees and other tournament expenses and came away with nothing tangible to show for it, that I just might be open to a different approach to preparation and game improvement. I suggest that serious golfers take a page from other sports, military training, and successful businesses and apply a different philosophy to improving performance. In recent times, a philosophy of continuous improvement through the aggregation of marginal gains has been adopted and implemented with great success. I suggest that you go to the Harvard Business Review and read the article for background.

Now, this theory requires an analytical approach in order to identify the “critical factors” that are present and necessary for success, and then implementing a “process of continuous improvement” for each factor. The idea being that continuous improvement of as little as 1 percent to each factor will have an aggregate effect on the activity as a whole. So, what are critical factors? In the simplest definition they are the key variables, or “little things” that when taken together determine success.

“I will prepare and someday my chance will come.” 

— Abraham Lincoln

To bring some clarity to this idea, I want to draw a parallel between PGA Tour Q-School and Navy Seal training. How is this appropriate? Both programs are designed to “weed out” those not able to succeed at the next level, and they had roughly the same wash-out rates of more than 90 percent. That is, until the Navy made some significant changes in order to increase pass rates without lowering standards.

So what did the Navy do?

First, the Navy created and implemented preliminary and introductory programs that developed, improved, strengthened, and tested all necessary and desirable skill levels. These programs are now conducted over the 11 weeks just prior to the start of formal training.

Second, the Navy developed one-on-one mentoring and coaching programs while encouraging candidates to pair off as training partners to increase support and accountability.

Third, the Navy realized the importance of taking a long-term approach to training while focusing on achieving consistent gradual progress over several months, rather than trying to achieve extraordinary results immediately.

So how does what the Navy did apply to golfers?

First, you must understand that Q-School is not really an opportunity. It’s a process that eliminates about 70 percent of participants at each venue at every stage until the finals, where all 150-plus finalists will receive at least some status on the Web.com Tour for the coming year. The first real professional opportunity comes at the finals, where the top-45 will receive enough priority to ensure a good number of tournament starts and additionally, for the first time, there is a prize “purse” available for distribution. So what does as much as $15,000 in entry fees do? Try entry into a process that weeds out more than 95 percent of all those who sign up.

Second, Q-School is still just playing golf, and it is basically the same golf that’s played by millions of golfers every day on courses worldwide.

Third, “Under pressure,” according to SEAL lore, “You don’t rise to the occasion. You sink to the level of your training. That’s why we train so hard.” Bottom line, whenever a golfer plays for, or in, anything meaningful there will be pressure. Pressure to win, to succeed, not to lose or fail.

Fourth, all golfers can adopt the Navy model implementing a philosophy of “continuous improvement.”

So how can golfers implement a philosophy of “continuous improvement?”

First, identify those things that are crucial. In this system, you must marginally improve everything. For example, I have identified four major components, 12 critical factors, and 36 sub factors that apply to everyone’s game. For example, as I see it, there are four major on-course components to all golf games:

  1. Putting
  2. Scoring Shots
  3. Recovery Shots
  4. Stock Shots.

Putting is composed of three vital factors:

  1. All putts must be read correctly.
  2. All putts must start on the intended line.
  3. All putts must go the intended distance.

In my system, each of these factors has three sub factors. I will provide a list of these factors to all those who request it. Just email me at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Second, assign or design specific drills with measurable standards for each factor or sub-factor. I use a system known as “Deliberate Practice,” which is purposeful and systematic.

Third, keep track of goals, objectives, and progress.

“Most people miss Opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” 

— Thomas Edison

Now for the flip side: you must be aware that the “aggregation of marginal losses” is just as powerful a phenomenon. A 1-percent decline in various skills can offset marginal gains. So no matter how hard you work, the net effect may produce less than satisfying results.

So, if you want 2018 to be different than 2017, I suggest you start improving your game sooner rather than later.

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Ed Myers is the author of Hogan’s Ghost, Golf’s Scoring Secret and The Scoring Machine. He was the Director of Instruction at Memphis National Golf Club, and he is currently the scoring coach for players on all professional tours. "The Ultimate Scoring and Performance Experience" an all day program featuring on course private instruction and unlimited play with "Hogan's Ghost." is now available. More than a "golf school"and more than just short game. Individualized evaluation determines where to start the experience. Learn and work according to your goals, preferences and ability. All practice is supervised and structured to ensure maximum benefit and verifiable results. Program runs Monday -Friday from April through October, 2018. See you in Memphis, Tenn. "The Distance Coaching Program" is now available to all level of golfers worldwide. Thanks to modern technology everyone, everywhere, can train like a touring professional. Learn more about Ed at edmyersgolf.com. He can be reached at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Ed Mellick

    Nov 6, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Excellent article from a different approach with accountability.
    If you look at the minuscule scoring average differences from all the Tours, you can see what even minuscule improvements can make in
    rankings and dollars earned.

  2. Gilles

    Nov 5, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Same advice on gripping for the last 50 years and if hasn’t sunk in by now give it up.

  3. etc.

    Nov 4, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Putting is composed of three vital factors:
    1. All putts must be read correctly.
    2. All putts must start on the intended line.
    3. All putts must go the intended distance.
    —————
    Forget it because if you buy new model Scotty or Bettinardi, or even a Kramski putter with diamonds or sapphires embedded in the back, your $$$$$$ putter will do all that for you.

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5 most common golf injuries (and how to deal with them)

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You might not think about golf as a physically intensive game, but that doesn’t change the fact it is still a sport. And as with every sport, there’s a possibility you’ll sustain an injury while playing golf. Here’s a list of the five most common injuries you might sustain when playing the game, along with tips on how to deal with them in the best way possible so you heal quickly.

Sunburn

While not directly an injury, it’s paramount to talk about sunburns when talking about golf. A typical golf game is played outside in the open field, and it lasts for around four hours. This makes it extremely likely you’ll get sunburnt, especially if your skin is susceptible to it.

That’s why you should be quite careful when you play golf

Apply sunscreen every hour – since you’re moving around quite a lot on a golf course, sunscreen won’t last as long as it normally does.

Wear a golf hat – aside from making you look like a professional, the hat will provide additional protection for your face.

If you’re extra sensitive to the sun, you should check the weather and plan games when the weather is overcast.

Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint. This group are the main muscles responsible for swing movements in your arms. It’s no surprise then that in golf, where the main activity consists of swinging your arms, there’s a real chance this muscle group might sustain an injury.

To avoid injuries to this group, it’s imperative you practice the correct form of swinging the club. Before playing, you should also consider some stretching.

If you get an injury, however, you can recover faster by following RICE:

Rest: resting is extremely important for recovery. After an injury, the muscles are extremely vulnerable to further injury, and that’s why you should immediately stop playing and try to get some rest.

Ice: applying ice to the injured area during the first day or two can help. It reduces inflammation and relaxes the muscles.

Compress: bandage the rotator cuff group muscle and compress the muscles. This speeds up the muscle healing process.

Elevate: elevate the muscles above your heart to help achieve better circulation of blood and minimize fluids from gathering.

Wrist Injuries

Wrist tendons can sustain injuries when playing golf. Especially if you enjoy playing with a heavy club, it can put some strain on the wrist and cause wrist tendonitis, which is characterized by inflammation and irritation.

You should start by putting your wrist in a splint or a cast – it is necessary to immobilize your wrist to facilitate healing.

Anti-inflammatory medicine can relieve some of the pain and swelling you’ll have to deal with during the healing process. While it might not help your wrist heal much quicker, it’ll increase your comfort.

A professional hand therapist knows about the complexities of the wrist and the hand and can help you heal quicker by inspecting and treating your hands.

Back Pain

A golf game is long, sometimes taking up to 6 hours. This long a period of standing upright, walking, swinging clubs, etc. can put stress on your back, especially in people who aren’t used to a lot of physical activities:

If you feel like you’re not up for it, you should take a break mid-game and then continue after a decent rest. A golf game doesn’t have any particular time constraints, so it should be simple to agree to a short break.

If you don’t, consider renting a golf cart, it makes movement much easier. If that’s not possible, you can always buy a pushcart, which you can easily store all the equipment in. Take a look at golf push cart reviews to know which of them best suits your needs.

Better posture – a good posture distributes physical strain throughout your body and not only on your back, which means a good posture will prevent back pain and help you deal with it better during a game.

Golfer’s Elbow

Medically known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow occurs due to strain on the tendons connecting the elbow and forearm. It can also occur if you overuse and over-exhaust the muscles in your forearm that allow you to grip and rotate your arm:

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is the way to go to alleviate the most severe symptoms of the injury at the beginning.

Lift the club properly, and if you think there’s a mismatch between your wrist and the weight of the club, you should get a lighter one.

Learn when you’ve reached your limit. Don’t overexert yourself – when you know your elbow is starting to cause you problems, take a short break!

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Podcasts

TG2: Our PGA picks were spot on…and Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball

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Rob picked Brooks to win the PGA and hit the nail on the head, while Knudson’s DJ pick was pretty close. Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball and we talk about some new clubs that are going to be tested in the next couple days.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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The Gear Dive: Vokey Wedge expert Aaron Dill

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Titleist Tour Rep Aaron Dill on working under Bob Vokey, How he got the gig and working with names like JT, Jordan and Brooks.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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