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Stats! What are they good for?

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For years the world of golf has attempted to quantify the game with the idea that data will somehow improve the experience and provide information as to what and how to improve performance. The various professional tours have invested millions of dollars in order to gather the data that can be boiled down into about 600 statistical categories. Those of us not affiliated with professional tours are encouraged to gather, record and keep our own stats so that we too can improve our golfing experience and provide a basis for improving our games.

And now, many years later we have Greens in Regulation, Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy, Putts Made from every conceivable distance, Proximity to the Hole from every conceivable distance and a whole range of analysis based upon the advanced notion of “Shots Gained.” Some of these stats have added to the experience, but none of them have actually helped most of us improve our games.

And why is that?

For example, if a player had 27 putts in a round, what did he/she shoot? Meanwhile, Phil Michelson shot a 59 to win the 2004 PGA Grand Slam of Golf hitting only three fairways. And, how is missing a fairway by inches automatically a negative while hitting a green leaving a 90-foot putt a good thing?

Instead of beating up on all of the unnecessary and unproductive stats and all of the data points necessary to base averages and the like, I will share with you the one single most useful and helpful stat that I have used and tested — and it only requires a binary response. A simple “Yes” or “No” to the question: “Did the shot produce the result that I tried to produce?”

  • For the beginning player, getting the ball off the ground and going generally in the right direction for some acceptable distance would be a “Yes” answer.
  • For the high-handicap player, getting the ball off the ground and going generally in the right direction for some acceptable distance without going out of bounds or into a hazard would be a “Yes” answer.
  • For the middle-handicap player, a shot that has the general appearance of correctness without going out of bounds or into a hazard would be a “Yes” answer.

For the low-handicap or professional player, more specific definitions or targets are necessary. Meaning, does the ball flight have the “General Appearance of Correctness” (GAC) and is the ball coming to rest within the intended target area. “GAC” refers to direction, trajectory, distance and curve. The better the player, the more exact would be the standard for GAC. For your general information, “targets” are stated objectives into which the player desires the ball to come to rest.

I define targets as:

  • Large Target: a “box” being 40 yards wide and as deep as desired (a rectangle, a parallelogram or a square)
  • Small Target: an area* having a radius of 10 yards or 30 feet
  • Scoring Target: an area having a radius of 10 feet
  • Short Game Scoring Target: an area having a radius of 3 feet

*Note: Areas are defined as having the shape of a circle, a semi-circle, a triangle or a fan

As a point of interest, it isn’t usually necessary or desirable to define targets in more definitive terms. You may have noticed that there wasn’t any references to the pin, the green, the fairway or the hole. They may or may not be considerations when targeting, and they may or may not be within the boundaries of the actual targets!

“Byron [Nelson] said that the secret to playing Augusta National was to play to the green, not the pins,” Ben Hogan said after his 1942 playoff loss to Nelson at the Masters.

I concede that there are a few major flaws to this system. First, the player is required to be honest. Second, the player is required to record all of the “No” answers onto a “scorecard” that then becomes a permanent record for that round. Third, the player must determine if the “No’s” were a result of bad decision making or substandard execution. Finally, the player must schedule and then do both the physical and mental practice that turns the “No’s” into “Yeses.”

So, what percentage of the time is a player in the right position for the shot about to be played, how is the right position determined, and how does being in the correct position actually effect scoring? A topic for another time.

Ready to get started? I will email you the scorecard I use by request. Contact me at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

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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.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. 3puttPar

    Jul 29, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Stats! What are they good for? CONFUSING THE AVERAGE GOLFER leading them to poor practice routines, if they even practice.

  2. DaveyD

    Jul 29, 2018 at 9:39 am

    My goal to to make greens in regulation. This one stat means I’m staying out of trouble & avoiding penalty strokes. It’s giving me the best chance for a par or sub-par. I don’t track it, I simply know if I make it or I don’t and where the extra strokes came from.

  3. CrashTestDummy

    Jul 28, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    It is good to keep track of putts, gir, fairways hit, and proximity to the hole. However, at the end of the day the score is what counts. Most tour pros know and high level golfers where they are losing strokes.

  4. Adam

    Jul 28, 2018 at 11:55 am

    I agree with everything here but technically… turning “No’s into Yeses” requires some sort of stats, right? Maybe not actually tracking and analyzing numbers but to get better, you must eventually improve the areas of the game referred to as “stats.”

  5. Mike

    Jul 28, 2018 at 9:13 am

    I used to keep tons of stats (I work w/ # so it’s a habit). I ditched all that except for 1 stat…what did I shoot. # of putts is a fairly useless stat. If u hit every green in regulation & 2-putted each, you have 36 putts & shoot par. If you missed every green but got up & down every time, you shoot par w/ 18 putts. Which is better? At some point, after playing for a few years, you should know your game, meaning, where you s/b focusing on for improvement.

    • Blaise

      Jul 28, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      Still pretty useful, isn’t it?

      If you had 18 GIR and 36 putts you can be fairly sure that your game from the tee box is solid (hard to hit greens when behind the trees) and thus your wedge game and putting is where you should focus your efforts.

      Conversely if you get up and down that often you know it’s the longer clubs.

      But, I mostly agree. The stats aren’t always a perfect indicator as there is much nuance.

      • Frankie

        Jul 28, 2018 at 6:07 pm

        Why would you need to work on your wedge game if you are already hitting 18 GIR’s…? Strokes gained around the green offers the lowest strokes gained out of any strokes gained categories so therefore it is the most negligible part of the game to work on; not to mention the short game is so random on the course because they are a result of misses that there is no way to practice it off the course without making it block practice, which is the wrong way to practice such a random part of the game. Everyone is better off practicing from the driving range and putting green and then practice their short game creativity while playing on the course.

  6. Prime21

    Jul 27, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    Thanks for saying it again, not sure what would have happened w/o your approval.

  7. R k

    Jul 27, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    I will say it again.. Ed Myers produces the best golf improvement articles on this or any other golf outlet.

    While I have not used his scorecard(s) specifically, I have heeded only some of his advice on and off course and have had my best rounds ever this year, multiple rounds not just one.

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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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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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