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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

Prospective NCAA Golfers, are you ready for September 1? Here’s what you should be doing

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In June, I reported changes to the NCAA rules, including new legislation that prevented college coaches from contacting a prospective student athlete before September 1 of their Junior Year. With September 1 just around the corner, the question is: are you ready?

If not, don’t worry. As always, I am here to help you understand the college landscape and find the best opportunity to pursue your passion in college! Here’s what you need to know:

Be Prepared

Over time, you are going to hear from some coaches. It is important that students are prepared to talk to coaches. Before speaking to a coach, it is important to do research about their institution; what are the grades required for admissions? How many players are on the team? How much of the student population lives on campus? Know the basics before your conversation.

It is also important that you are ready to answer a couple questions. Coaches are very likely to ask, why are you interested in my school? Tell me about your grades or academic interests? Or, tell me about your golf game? Be honest and remember a passion for the game goes a long way.

Coaches are also likely to ask if you have any questions. Having a couple questions written down is important. If you are not sure what to ask, here are some questions I recommend:

  • What is your coaching philosophy?
  • What is your favourite part of coaching?
  • What type of student best fits in at your university?
  • What type of athlete best fits in?
  • What are the goals for the golf program?
  • How do you determine who play play in your top 5 at tournaments?
  • Do you ever take more than 5 players to a tournament?
  • What access does the team have to golf courses?
  • Is it expected to have your own vehicle?
  • Do you do any technical swing work with the players?
  • What is your greatest strength as a coach?
  • Do you offer academic support, such as tutors for students?
  • What percent of teachers have terminal degrees?
  • How does my major (X) impact golf? Can I do it and golf?
  • Do you support graduates in getting jobs?
  • What success do people have getting jobs?
  • What success do people have getting into grad schools?

Know the Numbers

With only a couple weeks before September 1, I would recommend you take time and see where you (or your son and daughter) stands on websites such as Junior Golf Scoreboard or Rolex AJGA Rankings. Now that you know the number, consider in several previous articles I have presented how rankings related to college signings. My analysis of the numbers demonstrates that, for boys, the average Division I player is ranked approximately 300 in Junior Golf Scoreboard in their class with a scoring differential of about .5. The average Division II player is ranked about 550 in their class. For girls, it appears that ranking is less important, but there is a strong relationship between scoring differential and college signings. Girls that sign at schools within the top 50 have scoring differentials of at least -3 or better, while the average for any Division I player is approximately 5.

Keep in mind that when you search on Junior Golf Scoreboard for yourself, it will show your ranking overall. This number is going to be much lower for your ranking in your class. Without a subscription, you will not be able to find your exact rank, but I would generally say you can cut the number by about 50 percent to give yourself a fair gauge. So if you are 3750 overall, you are likely close to 1875 in your class.

For many members of the junior class reading this article, they may see that their ranking might be significantly higher than these numbers. Don’t panic; the rankings are over a 1-year period. After a year, old scores drop off and new scores can be counted. Also, on Junior Golf Scoreboard, your worst 25 percent of rounds are not counted. So, you have time to continue to work on your game, improve your ranking and get the attention of coaches!

Do your research

Now that you have an idea about your ranking, start researching. Where did players of similar rank sign last year? What is the rank of that school? What schools are ranked about the same? Answering these questions will require some time and two resources; Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golfstat.com. To find out where similar players signed from last year, go to njgs.com, then under the tab “rankings & honors,” the bottom option is college signees. Click there, and then you can order the signees based on class rank by clicking on “scoreboard class ranking as of signing date.” You will notice that last year, players ranked about 1800 in their class signed at such schools as Kenyon, Glenville, Southern Nazarene, Central Alabama Community college and Allegany college. Pretty good considering these schools have produced a president of the United States (Hayes, Kenyon), and a 5-time Major Championship participant (Nathan Smith, Allegany).

Now that you have a list of schools where similar students have signed, look up the golf rankings of these schools on golfstat.com. The rankings of schools are under the “rankings” tab on the home page and segmented by NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA.

First find out where the school is ranked and then consider schools ranked 5-10 spots ahead and behind that school. Are any of these of interest? Any where you think might sound interesting? Take time and build a list, then send an email to those schools introducing yourself, along with a swing video.

Have a Plan

Regardless if you are a Junior in High School or a Senior in High School, come September 1, remember that there is still time and regardless of what people say, coaches are always looking. For High School Juniors, it is likely that next summer will have a critical impact on your opportunities in college golf, so what can you do over the next 9 months? Where are you missing out on the most shots? Take time, talk to people and develop a plan to give yourself the best chance to succeed in the future. And then, put in the time!

For Seniors, although many might be in your ear saying it’s too late, don’t listen to them. You still have some time. Take a careful look at how you can use the next 2-3 months to improve and prepare for events such as the AJGA Senior Showcase in Las Vegas. Remember that data suggests that up to one-third of players sign in the late period (for all levels) and up to 60 percent of players who compete in the AJGA Senior Showcase in December in Las Vegas, go on to get offers.

As always, if you have any feedback on this article or a story idea, please feel free to reach out to me! I always love hearing from people and helping them connect with schools that meet their academic, athletic, social and financial needs! Best of luck to you, or your son/daughter.

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TG2: Would you rather have Brooks or DJ’s career? 30+ more AMA-style Instagram questions

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Brooks Koepka vs. Dustin Johnson? All-time favorite driver? Poker chips as ball markers? Editor Andrew Tursky and Equipment Expert Brian Knudson answer 30+ questions from the @tg2wrx Instagram. They also discuss Joe LaCava (Tiger’s caddie) paying off a heckler to go away.

Enjoy the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Wyndham Championship

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After one of the most exciting Sunday’s of the golfing year, attention now turns towards the race for the FedEx Cup playoffs, and the quest to attain a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup. For the former, this week’s Wyndham Championship is the final opportunity for players to work their way into the top-125 in the FedEx Cup standings and earn a spot in the opening event of the playoffs. Despite many of the world’s elite understandably taking this week off, there are some big names in action here in Greensboro, with Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Webb Simpson all setting their sights on winning at Sedgefield Country Club this week.

Sedgefield CC is a relatively short par-70 golf course. It measures just over 7,100 yards, and it’s a golf course that doesn’t particularly favour the longer hitters. The rough is playable in Greensboro this week, and like most years at the Wyndham Championship, expect players who have their wedge game dialled in to thrive here at this event.

Last year, Henrik Stenson put on a ball striking clinic, posting 22-under par to win the title by one stroke over Ollie Schniederjans.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Webb Simpson 12/1
  • Hideki Matsuyama 16/1
  • Henrik Stenson 18/1
  • Rafa Cabrera Bello 22/1
  • Brandt Snedeker 22/1
  • Shane Lowry 25/1
  • Billy Horschel 28/1

It’s been a bit of a disappointing year for Daniel Berger (35/1, DK Price $9,300), but the Floridian showed some very promising signs at last week’s PGA Championship. After opening his PGA Championship with a very poor round of 73, Berger then shined over the next three days. The American posted three consecutive rounds under par, two of which were 66 or better. It was enough to give Berger a T12 finish and plenty of momentum heading to Greensboro this week.

In St. Louis last week, Berger lead the field for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, gaining an impressive 8.5 strokes over the field. It was the second best performance with his irons in his career, and at Sedgefield, Berger is going to have hole after hole where he can attack pins with his precise iron game. The two-time winner on the PGA Tour has had a quiet year, but in a weakened field, with plenty of question marks surrounding those at the top of the market, he has a superb opportunity for win number three here in Greensboro.

A T31 finish at the PGA Championship last week means that Chris Kirk (80/1, DK Price $7,500) has now made the cut in his last ten events. From these ten events, four have resulted in top-25 finishes, and Kirk has been hitting the ball particularly well as of late. Over his previous 12 rounds, Kirk ranks fifth in the field this week for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, 10th in ball striking and eight in Strokes Gained-Total.

Kirk will cost you just $7,500 on DraftKings, and looking at some of the players that are more expensive this week, he appears to be a bargain. Kirk is three for three in cuts made at the Wyndham Championship in his last three visits, and the four-time PGA Tour champion looks in excellent shape to mount his best challenge yet in Greensboro. Over his last 12 rounds, Kirk leads this week’s field for proximity to the hole, and on a golf course where flushing short irons to close range is going to be key, the American looks to offer some of the best value around this week.

With 17 out of 19 made cuts this year, and arriving off the back of a T12 finish in his last outing, Rory Sabbatini (75/1, DK Price $7,100) looks undervalued once again on DraftKings this week. Over his previous 12 rounds, Sabbatini ranks 24th in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green and 10th in Strokes Gained-Total. What’s more, is that Sabbatini is coming to a golf course that he has played very well in the past. In his last two visits to Sedgefield CC, the American has finished in the top-10 twice, with his best result coming last year when he finished T4. Coming off a strong showing in Canada, and with his proficiency in making cuts and excellent course history, Sabbatini looks a great DraftKings option here this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Daniel Berger 35/1, DK Price $9,300
  • Chris Kirk 80/1, DK Price $7,500
  • Rory Sabbatini 75/1, DK Price $7,100
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