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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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Opinion & Analysis

College golf: What you really need to sheet to play in tournaments

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No doubt the greatest part of the collegiate golf experience is traveling, which provides amazing bonding, as well as access to some of the greatest courses in the country!

However, getting on the bus at most schools requires some good scores! How good? I collected data from 25/50 Men’s Division I programs on the subject and found that on average these teams report playing qualifying from an average distance of 7,072 with a course rating of 74. They report that on average they play four rounds of qualifying, and the winner of the qualifying averages 67.2, while the fifth player usually has an average of 71.3. This means that for a four-round qualifier, the last person to qualify must shoot 4 under, while the winner shoots about 20 under. Pretty darn good!

According to Tennessee Head Coach Brennan Webb, whose team started the season with two victories, “If you are going to be a successful golfer at any level. you have to be good at qualifying. That includes every level of professional golf. It is what makes golf the purest sport there is. There is no draft to the PGA Tour. Learning that skill in college will be very valuable to you as your career progresses. Every successful program I have been a part of utilizes qualifying as a major part of the growth process of their players.”

Players at other levels also face very strong competition in qualifying. For example, at Emory University, the No.1-ranked team by Golfstat at the end of the fall, the team usually qualifies at either Smoke Rise of East Lake CC. Both courses have slopes of at least 135 and play between 6,800-7,100 yards. In six rounds of qualifying in the fall, the best player averaged 72.15, while the fifth player averaged 73.5.

The story is not much different at the NAIA level. According to Coach Sikorski at Ottawa University in Arizona, for the first event of the year they played five qualifying rounds with the top three performers shooting 8 under or better. The fifth man for the five rounds was 2 under, and the team currently boasts 12 players with a stroke average of 75.22 or better.

According to Andrew Danna, now at LSU but who last year coached the NCAA Division 2 Champion Lynn Fighting Knights, “we had a tremendous group of talented athletes at Lynn, including seven players in the top 750 in the WAGR. The players were very driven, and the results showed daily with qualifying often below par.”

These numbers demonstrate clearly how good college golfers are day to day on their home golf courses. At the highest level, the best college players are approximately +6 handicaps on their home courses, while players who are on the cusp of traveling have handicaps of between +1 to +3. At other levels, including DII, DIII and NAIA, the competition really is not that much easier with many coaches reporting players routinely winning qualifying with between -6 to -15.

When considering these scores, it is important to remember that scores are likely to be the lowest in the fall for two reasons; it has the best weather and many players are coming off three months of summer golf where they don’t have the demands of schools. Together, these make players the most prepared and it is the reason why we often see very low scores in September.

For junior golfers in the recruiting process, understanding the qualifying process is extremely important. This includes not only what type of scoring maybe required but also the way coaches prefer to qualify which can range greatly. For example, some coaches might simply allow the lowest five scores from a certain number of rounds to travel, while others might use the point system which solely relies on their discretion has one simply rule: if they point to you, you are going to the tournament.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: ColoVista Golf Club in Bastrop, Texas

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member Austincountyag, who takes us to ColoVista Golf Club in Bastrop, Texas. In his description of the course, Austincountyag tells us how it’s a tale of two very different nines at ColoVista.

“The course is usually in decent to great shape, and for the price, it is very hard to beat in the greater Austin area. The front nine is a links type of layout, while the back nine provides dramatic elevation changes as the holes wind through pine trees along the Colorado River.”

According to ColoVista Golf Club’s website, 18 holes during the week will cost $40, while the rate rises to $50 should you want to play on the weekend.

@Omstar114

@VisitsBastropCo

@DillonBecker7

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Podcasts

TG2: Stacks of Kuchar jokes | What irons would you have reissued?

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Danny Lee has some SWEET Mizuno MP-32 in the bag and it makes us ask the question, “What irons would you want reissued?” But before that we have to make a bunch jokes about the Matt Kuchar/El Tucan situation.

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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