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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 the PGA, Champions, European, Asian and Japanese tours. Now he is making available "The Distance Coaching Program" to all level of golfers worldwide. Thanks to modern technology everyone, everywhere, can train like a touring professional. He is based at Vantage Point Golf Center in Memphis, Tenn. 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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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the Ropes: 5 things you didn’t know about playing on the PGA Tour

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Golf finds a way to take a hold on you… whether you become entranced by the skill of the world’s best professionals, fall in love with the feeling and beauty of a well-executed shot, or simply enjoy getting outside and having fun — the game is addictive.

I started playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros on TV dreaming what it would be like to play golf on the PGA Tour. When I earned my PGA Tour status for the 2014 season, that dream became a reality. And like anything, it’s not until I actually experienced that life did I have any idea what it entailed.

For those of you who are curious what it’s like to be on the PGA Tour, here are 5 things to describe it.

1) The Culture

Traveling the world to various cities can be fun, and it’s an underrated part of the Tour lifestyle; you get to see new landscapes and taste the cuisines that define different regions across the country and the world. Unlike some other professional sports, where players stay in one place for maybe a night or two, we get to stay in places for a week or more, which allows for plenty of time away from the course to see the sights and get a feel for what the cities and their cultures offer.

2) The Show

The setup and time that goes into planning an event — the grandstands, concession stands, volunteers, and the whole network that makes these tournaments run — is beyond impressive. We see the finished product at the event in the epicenter of it all, but the planning goes on behind the scenes all year. When it’s game time and the golf ball gets teed up, it’s time for us players to block all of that out, but we certainly appreciate all of the hard work that goes into putting on an event. It may feel like being in a circus at times, but performing in the show is a thrill.

3) The People

The game of golf in general brings people together, but especially so on the Tour. Thousands and thousands of fans come to watch the golf action and enjoy the festivities. The Pro-Ams are a great way for the fans to get an up-close look at what goes on at a Tour event, and they’re also a great way for us pros to interact with fans and maybe provide some helpful swing tips, too. In my opinion, one of the best events of the year is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am — a gathering of pro golfers, athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities. It’s a testament to how the game can bring people together from different walks of life.

4) Inside the Ropes

The Tour is almost like a private school of sorts. It’s a select group of a couple hundred guys traveling around playing these events. The jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the loners; you see a little of everything. As much as there’s a sociable aspect to traveling on Tour and getting to know these people, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is playing for their livelihood and playing privileges.

5) The “Pressure”

A season-long race can come down to a single shot making the difference — for some it’s between winning and losing a tournament, and others it’s between keeping and losing your card. The cameras, the grandstands, the noise… it can all be quite distracting. The idea is to block all of that out and pretend you’re playing like a kid, focusing with pure imagination for the shot. All the extra attention can help heighten the focus further, adding inspiration to “give the people what they want” and hit even better golf shots.

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Ping Engineer Paul Wood explains how the G400 Max driver is so forgiving

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Paul Wood, VP of Engineering at Ping, joins our 19th Hole to discuss the new G400 Max driver, which the company calls the “straightest driver ever.” Also, listen for a special discount code on a new laser rangefinder.

Listen to this episode on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes.

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Opinion & Analysis

WATCH: How to Pull a Shaft from a Composite Club Head

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Composite club heads are increasing in popularity with golfers thanks to their technological and material advantages. For that reason, it’s important to know how to pull shafts from composite club heads without damaging them. This video is a quick step-by-step guide that explains how to safely pull a shaft from a composite club head.

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