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Clampett: Is confusion the leading cause of golfers quitting the game?

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It seems that lately I’ve had a run of golfers attending my two-day Signature School with similar stories.

“Bobby, I have too many swing thoughts! I don’t know what I should think about when I swing.” Nearly without exception, these golfers tell me that their increased frustration had led to a deterioration of their game. It’s really a shame, because many of these frustrated golfers were at one time low, single-digit handicap players that had fallen to bogey-level golf.

In these schools, I have the time to start peeling back the onion with each student, and I’m hearing the same story over and over. My first question is always, “How did you find out about us?” Usually, it’s through referral or the result of an internet search for instruction help. My second questions is, “What do you hope to accomplish in our two days together?” They almost always respond, “Bobby, my head is spinning with too many swing thoughts. I don’t know what to do. Your approach to impact makes the most sense I’ve seen. That’s why I’m here.”

Statistics indicate that 4 million golfers quit the game in the United States every year. And if you polled each of these 4 million golfers, you’d find confusion to be the common denominator in their decision to quit.

I googled “golf instruction” and received more than 33 million results. Then I went to “YouTube” and typed in “Golf Tip.” There were 932,000 results. Scores of golfers get emails everyday suggesting a new thought or idea to improve their game. They watch television and pick up some more advice. They subscribe to golf magazines suggesting all kinds of ideas. Then they go to the range or course and put as much of it into action as their memories and bodies will allow… only to find it just doesn’t work! They’re farther away from playing good golf than they were when they began seeking out these swing fixes.

Many of my students are avid golfers who come to my schools on the brink of quitting the game all together. One student’s story was so sad. He confessed that no one at his club wanted to play with him anymore because his game had declined so sharply. He was considering selling his membership. In tears, he shared with us that all of his friends were members of his club.

Why is there all this confusion around the golf swing? There are two simple reasons.

The first involves the idea that “style-based” teaching is still the most common approach to improving a golfer’s game, and in my opinion, this doesn’t work very well for most golfers. Style-based instruction centers around a certain look. These teachers ask golfers to set up to the ball this way, get in these backswing positions, make this move on the downswing, look like this at the finish… and so on. Meanwhile, the Dustin Johnsons, Jim Furyks, and Bubba Watsons of the golfing world don’t possess golf swings that look anything like the “style” being suggested. When swing tips are given for “style” reasons, they’re arbitrary, a visual preference, and can’t be measured.

The second reason golfers are more confused today than they’ve ever been is the climate of today’s golf instruction world. We live in a new age, the digital age, and golfers are being bombarded by countless forms of media suggesting how to improve their games. These tips have a very wide range of theories and suggestions, most of which are conflicting.

Set up with your weight on the left foot. No, on the right foot. No, in the middle.

Have a short, compact swing. No, get a big shoulder turn for more distance. No, just swing around your body.

Finish high. No, finish low and left.

You get the picture. Without the ability to discern fact from fiction when it comes to all of this information, golfers go to the driving range in search of that secret pill that’s going to make it all work. The truth is that a secret pill that’s “style-based” just doesn’t exist. The best golf teachers know that the “style” of swing really doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters in playing good golf is creating good impact. That’s what Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson all have in common, and that’s why they are all great golfers and great ball-strikers.

Good instructors understand what it is that these great players do to create that good impact, and they have the ability to offer clear remedies that might be built on only one or two simple thoughts. When a golfer is limited to thinking about only one or two key things, their mind is free and so is their swing. It’s not paralysis by analysis that ruins golfers, but rather paralysis by having too many needless and ineffective swing thoughts that ruins golfers.

Good instruction and good swing tips help golfers understand the impact their swing needs to create to be a good ball-striker. When a golfer’s impact isn’t good, a good instructor will help the student understand the specific element of their impact that wasn’t good and provide the appropriate remedy to fix it. Using today’s modern technology helps reveal precisely what was good or bad about a swing’s impact. After the remedy is given, technology will specifically be able to measure and show improvement in the various elements of impact. Game improvement can now be measured and verified by viewing the specific areas where impact is improved. When students see this measured improvement, hope is restored, confidence grows, scores drop and fewer golfers quit the game!

Be aware that it’s fine to read these articles and view these swing tips for their entertainment and educational value, but golfers should only apply the tips when they know they will help them improve a specific element of their impact. Then and only then will their game improve. One thing is for certain in golf, better impact equals better golf. That is where the “hope” of a good golf game is to be found.

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For students wanting to experience how improving their impact will improve their games, Bobby suggests coming to his next Signature Golf School, creating your own private school for your own group, and/or signing up for a private lesson. Simply go to: www.impactzonegolf.com or call 239-236-5536. For those instructors who want to learn "Impact-Based®" instruction, Bobby Clampett now has a fully developed Advanced Level One online training fully supported by the PGA and LPGA with continuing education credits. For those who complete, Bobby and Impact Zone Golf are developing a Certification Program and ultimately a masters Program. Impact Zone Golf is ready to build an army of good golf instructors and rid the epidemic of frustrated golfers victimized by "style-based" instruction methods. Bobby Clampett is a well-known PGA Tour Winner and Longtime CBS Golf Broadcaster, but perhaps he will be best known for his discovery of Impact-Based® Instruction. His two golf academies are in Naples, Florida: Indoor Performance Studio (1040 Collier Center Way, Unit 14, Naples, FL 34110) and at the Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. Bobby is the first golf instructor in history to be a PGA Tour winner and earn PGA Master Professional in Teaching and Coaching. He and his team of Impact-Based® Academy Trained instructors offer year-round Golf Schools, Private Lessons, Women’s Programs, Annual and Seasonal Coaching Programs, Competitive Junior Training and much more. He now offers Instructor Training and Certification approved by the PGA and LPGA. Visit: https://impactzonegolf.com or call: 239-236-5536.

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Warwick Weedon

    Mar 27, 2018 at 2:51 am

    I fully agree. I had a dreadful round. The next day I went to the range and asked the pro what aspect of the swing I should concentrate on. He replied, ” You have been playing the game for 30 years – just swing and hit the ball!” It worked like a charm!!!

  2. K Varnsen

    Mar 26, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Time & money have been and always will be the most important factors in golfers quitting the game.

    • gino

      Mar 26, 2018 at 6:09 pm

      No… most of them quit because they come to the realization they are non-athletic cruud and can’t drive the ball over 200 yards.

  3. Ron

    Mar 26, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    “One student’s story was so sad. He confessed that no one at his club wanted to play with him anymore because his game had declined so sharply. He was considering selling his membership. In tears, he shared with us that all of his friends were members of his club.”

    Cue the violins. If this ain’t a 1st world problem idk what is..

  4. Mike Cleland

    Mar 26, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    The reason people are leaving the game is COST.

    • gino

      Mar 26, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      People also leave the game because nobody wants to play with them… they’re incompetent!!

  5. Tyler

    Mar 26, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    It’s pretty ridiculous to suggest confusion as the main reason why people are quitting the game. It’s finances and time but Bob should know that considering most of his articles always end up as a shameless plug for his teaching/amateur golf accomplishments. There is no other sport like golf where one much purchase so much over priced equipment, equipment that the equipment manufactures will tell you is obsolete in just a year or two. All the other majors sports require minimal equipment to purchase that hasn’t changed in years. Most companies now are targeting the high end market which will just continue to drive people away. What other major sports require dress codes? It’s just the way it is.

  6. dennis Clark

    Mar 26, 2018 at 8:29 am

    I’ve been writing about this topic for over 6 years in this site. “Impact teaching”, a concept I learned from John Jacobs 30+ years ago, is the ONLY way to approach instruction. Reference my 100+ articles, same theme…always was, always will be..

    • gino

      Mar 26, 2018 at 6:04 pm

      That’s because you are ignorant about the latest scientific revelations about the golf swing… like the Kinetic Chain… and Newtonian Physics… all beyond the brainlets of old dog teachers who can easily con gullible golfers looking for an instant fix.

  7. Speedy

    Mar 25, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Proper grip, stance, posture aren’t adhered to by most amateurs. They haven’t the “Basics” discipline to succeed.

    • gino

      Mar 26, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Yup… every time they swing they invent a new swing… lol

    • Chad

      Mar 27, 2018 at 9:28 am

      Because grip stance and posture rarely cause issues. Your logic is precisely why people aren’t getting better.

  8. BarnRat

    Mar 25, 2018 at 11:58 am

    33.7% of Americans are obese and are totally unable to play golf. If they started golf when they were children and became obese as adults they can compensate… but those who start as obese adults they will fail utterly. I know because I’m obese and a 20 y.o. tour pro golfer.

    • gino

      Mar 26, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      Fat men can’t wipe themselves cleanly… and can’t swing because their blubber resists rotation.

  9. Man

    Mar 25, 2018 at 10:22 am

    They quit the game because they suck at it. No matter how hard some people try, they just don’t have it, right? They get frustrated because they just aren’t athletes of any calibre, and they fail. So they quit. Good.

    • ogo

      Mar 25, 2018 at 11:50 am

      Correct… frustration, failure and finances to play the game. Also, the generational shifts from the sickly Baby Boomers (ages 6o and over) who are rich and privileged to the Generation X and now the Millenials who are too poor to play golf and prefer a sedentary lifestyle playing video games and Texas Holdem Poker. Every generation is either retiring from golf to quitting because golf is not a satisfying recreational experience. Golf is dying and is only for the super rich.

      • Bob Jones

        Mar 26, 2018 at 2:43 pm

        Come out to my Men’s Club day some Tuesday morning and show me where the super rich guys are among them. I sure don’t know.

        • gino

          Mar 26, 2018 at 6:08 pm

          That’s because you live in a little dream world with the other “Men’s Club” deluders….

  10. sebastian

    Mar 25, 2018 at 7:43 am

    not sure how this all fits, but in my experience, finally understanding concepts changed my game. the biggest game changer to me was the arm swing illusion thread here by Jim Waldron. For me, it had nothing to do with positions, but a concept. Arms move up and down, body turns. Then add bobby lopez, “no offsides” concept, and I dropped like 20 strokes off my game due to consistency and concepts. No positions, no checkpoints, but concepts and understanding.

    That was after wasting lots of money on lessons with instructors who taught radically different things. Hold the lag, stab the front leg, turn left, swing toward first base, etc…

  11. Jack

    Mar 25, 2018 at 1:17 am

    True indeed self diagnosis works just about as well as trying to self diagnose a complex disease. Not sure why golfers do it, but I do lol.

    • steve

      Mar 25, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Very astute observation…. and if you think of it, you cannot see nor feel what you are doing during the golfswing. You can’t see it because most of it is out of sight… and you can’t feel it in real time because there is a 500 millisecond delay between what happens and what you eventually feel. Even viewing your swing on video is unhelpful unless your swing error is egregious… and even then you don’t know what to do to fix the error.
      It’s a game of trial and error and error and error …. 😮

  12. Xavinoo

    Mar 24, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    I’m reminded of this quote..,.

    “Swing Your Swing”
    “Not Some Idea of A Swing”
    “Not A Swing You Saw On TV”
    “Not That Swing You Wish You Had”
    “No! Swing Your Swing”
    “Capable of Greatness, Prized Only By You”
    “Perfect In Its Imperfection”
    “Swing Your Swing”
    “I Know I Did!”

    Arnold Palmer

    I enjoy golf the most when I let my swing happen the way it works for me. I play better, I’m more focused, It allows me to play to the course and it’s strategy not my swing and what I hope it will do.

    I got interested in navigating my way better around the course and using my brain not my brawn. Thereby playing to your strengths not the shot you hit 3 times a year. Being consistent from 150 yards in not 550 yards in was crucial for me.

    As boring as it is my score lowered when I chip with my hybrid, putt outside the green from tight lies, go for par 5’s in three, club up on approaches swinging easy, try to ‘chip’ out of bunkers whenever possible, hit fairway wood, hybrid’s, and long irons off the box more than I whip out the big stick keeping it in play. I can smash my 5 iron 215-225 and get a good 230-240 when I want with my 16.5 4 wood. With that distance when you play from your appropriate tee box you find the game more manageable and enjoyable.

    What really helped was practicing my putting on my kids playmat into a children sized cup repetively from 1-6 feet for 1/2 an hour a day. I found that I usually 2 put at least 6/9 holes when I play and can save par/bogey 75% of the time. I don’t think nearly as hard on those shorter putts plus I try to not play the break 95% of the time aiming for center cup only.

    With two kids a full time job I don’t have the time to dedicate myself to low digit play. I would love to play to high 70’s but I’m stuck in the 80’s. I have good rounds I have really nasty ones. It doesn’t matter no one is handing me my tour card tomorrow. I’ve learned to accept the game I have. Not the swing the golfing conglomerates think I should have. Seve, Daly, Couples, Watson & Furyk all good examples of not over thinking their swings.

    But the more than anything else I’ve tried to enjoy the game I love, Not contemplate the intricacies of my swinging technique. Life’s too stressful and short to not enjoy golf.

  13. steve

    Mar 24, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Why do adult men believe they can think their way through a golf swing using swing tips?
    Any athlete will tell you they don’t overthink their sport, they just do it automatically.
    Adult male golfers who are non-athletic or declining with age and are desperate, seek improvement from golf tips and new equipment. They don’t understand their decline is due to a deteriorating body. If they want to slow down the decline they must work daily to recondition their body. Nothing else works… believe it.

    • Mat

      Mar 25, 2018 at 1:08 am

      Because target-sport athletes are given specific thoughts by the best mental teachers. Unfortunately, instead of just one thing, it’s 10 for ams.

      • gino

        Mar 26, 2018 at 6:13 pm

        So it’s mind over matter… from the best mental teachers who scam gullible fat golfers?

  14. Sean Foster-Nolan

    Mar 24, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    I have been saying for a long time, the swing is all about impact, and it doesn’t matter how you get there as long as you get there. While golf instruction can be confusing, anything new a student learns takes time to master. It requires patience and hard work. Some folks are unwilling to commit to what needs to be done and opine that, “Golf instruction doesn’t work for me,” as they revert back to their old habits.

    • george

      Mar 24, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      Ball flight is all about impact, precisely…5-6 ten thousands of a second.

      Golf swing is determined from P6 to P8. That is where Furyk is perfect as was Ben Hogan, IMO

      • gino

        Mar 26, 2018 at 6:20 pm

        So just swing from P6 to P8 if that’s the secret to your swing. Btw… positions are just static snapshots and in no way describe the dynamics of the golf swing. Only scientific analysis can fully reveal how the golfswing functions.

  15. John B

    Mar 24, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    I am a 56 year old lifetime golfer who has a good friend who is an excellent teaching pro and my age. On my good days I was breaking 80… Several years ago I went to him and I told him I wanted to get to scratch over lunch. He looked me in the eye and said we can rebuild your swing and try and fix your flaws, BUT it could be miserable for a couple of years and you may end up the same or worse. He told me there is a reason there is a senior tour and many of those guys disappear after 55-56. He suggested I enjoy and keep playing with “MY GAME” and that I practice pitching, chipping and and putting around the green. I took his advice play about 60 rounds a season in the northeast and work on my short game once or twice a week for about 30 minutes. Well my good days are in the mid 70s now. When I get my golf magazines I never read the instruction articles any more. I just play and enjoy the course, friends and the playing.

    • Acemandrake

      Mar 24, 2018 at 7:31 pm

      This. I’m like you only older (60) and everything you said (well written BTW) applies to my game.

      I particularly appreciate your pro’s advice: Play “MY GAME”…work on short game…enjoy the game you have from a lifetime of playing.

      It’s okay to seek improvement but we need to be smart & realistic about it.

      There are multiple ways to enjoy this great game.

      Me? I’m grateful to be out there soaking up the atmosphere 🙂

    • Warwick Weedon

      Mar 27, 2018 at 2:47 am

      Excellent!!

  16. Steve Wozeniak

    Mar 24, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    I LOVE IT!!!!!! This coming from a guy that read the golfing machine cover to cover a hundred times and is to this day completely confused about what happens in the golf swing…..hey but keep trying Bob…..

    Steve Wozeniak PGA

    Watch Bill Mehlhorn giving a clinic to Florida State golfers on YouTube, it’s from the mid 70″s and you might get a clue. Now that’s simple baby……

    • steve

      Mar 24, 2018 at 10:48 pm

      In another WRX article by Bobby, he is in a photo with a lot of computer screens with the latest high tech golfswing data. It’s never too late to find truth and simplicity through the latest science… and burn TGM because it’s total rubbish.

  17. Brett Weir

    Mar 24, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Amen….I was ready to quit the game 4 years ago and decided to work on my swing from scratch with an emphasis on having the clubface square through impact with a lot of shaft lean. Since then, I’m been shooting from the 90s to the 70s. The game is fun again.

    • MuskieCy

      Mar 24, 2018 at 11:34 pm

      While I question a 20 improvement in handicap, I need to know one thing.

      If a square face to path is revelation, what were you thinking about before?

      • TheCityGame

        Mar 26, 2018 at 12:59 pm

        Watch people on the range. They’re not focussing on square impact at all. They hit a bad shot, and they starting rehearsing moves with their right elbow halfway down, like if they just fix that, they’ll hit it straight. They think about weight distribution, transition, shortening the backswing, holding a finish. They generally seem to be thinking about everything except what was happening with the face and the path at the ball.

  18. WigerToods

    Mar 24, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    According to the tiger cubs, it’s tiger retiring that will kill golf

  19. Square

    Mar 24, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    100% correct! This is the truth. when I quit working about my back swing, positions, etc and focused on impact and a solid impact position, I dropped my handicap to +2. This is the holy grail of instruction and I’ve used a few drills from Bobby to help out. I met him at the PGA show a few years back and he couldn’t have been more passionate and was very accommodating. Keep up the good work!

    • 2putttom

      Mar 25, 2018 at 1:44 pm

      #Ditto. keep it simple is the new motto for amature golfers.

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: The 2018 Open Championship

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The 147th Open Championship gets underway this week as 156 players launch their quest to capture the Claret Jug. The oldest and for many, most prestigious event returns to Scotland, where Carnoustie will host the tournament for the eighth time in its history.

The last time Carnoustie hosted The Open was 10 years ago when Padraig Harrington finished tied with Sergio Garcia at 7-under par after 72 holes. Harrington went on to outlast Garcia in a dramatic playoff to capture his first of two-straight Open Championships.

The weather is expected to be kind this year and the rough will less penal than it was in 2007, which should offer more birdies than it did in 2007. Carnoustie will measure just over 7,400 yards. With the course playing fast and firm, however, distance is not going to be an issue.

Strategy will be vitally important, and we’ve heard that players will be able to lay up on some of the holes by taking short irons off the tee. The likes of Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, and Rory McIlroy have all stated that they will be taking driver off the tee to eliminate many of the pot bunkers on the course. The reason for this comes down to the fact that the rough is playable this year, which allows for attacking golf. As with any Open Championship, players will need to have every single part of their game in shape for the difficult challenge that links golf always provides.

Last year, Jordan Spieth won the Claret Jug by playing his final five holes in 5-under to post 12-under and beat runner-up Matt Kuchar by three strokes.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Dustin Johnson 12/1
  • Justin Rose 16/1
  • Rickie Fowler 18/1
  • Rory McIlroy 18/1
  • Jon Rahm 20/1
  • Jordan Spieth 20/1
  • Tommy Fleetwood 22/1

Considerably cheaper in salary than both Spieth and Mcilroy, and only marginally more expensive than Fowler, Jon Rahm (20/1, DK Price $9,800) looks to offer excellent value this week at the top of the board. The Spaniard has shown he can play links golf very well, as he once again performed excellently in Ireland, posting a top-5 finish two weeks ago. Rahm now turns his attention to Carnoustie where he’ll be gunning for his first major championship victory.

Rahm comes into this event with a clear strategy. He’s going to play as aggressive as always and hit driver off the tee at every opportunity. Rahm believes the course layout and conditions will suit his explosive game. When you listen to his assessment of Carnoustie this year, it’s difficult to disagree with him. Speaking to the media this week, Rahm said:

“If you hit a good one with a driver, you’re going to have nothing to the green. If you hit the rough this year, it’s not as thick as other years. You actually get a lot of good lies, so you can still hit the green with confidence.”

With playable rough, Rahm should feel every bit as confident as he sounds about his chances this week, as the only thing that prevented him from winning in Ireland was the odd blow-up hole. But with his power allowing him to take the pot bunkers almost entirely out of play, combined with light rough, Carnoustie should be an excellent fit for him. Rahm’s experience in contention at Augusta earlier in the year should put him in good shape mentally as he attempts to win his first major championship, and if he can keep his volatile temperament in check, then Rahm has every chance of claiming the Claret Jug.

From the middle of the range prices this week, Francesco Molinari (33/1, DK Price $8,600) may be the safest man to add to your lineups. The Italian has been in imperious form lately, winning twice and finishing runner-up twice in his last five events. Molinari leads the field in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green over his previous 24 rounds and sits third in ball striking over the same period.

Molinari’s Open Championship record has been solid, making the cut in five of his last six appearances at this event. His best finish at this event is a T9 back in 2013 at Muirfield, where the conditions were also dry. Molinari enters this event in the form of his life, and the way he is hitting the ball right now, he looks primed for his best Open Championship performance yet.

A links specialist, Marc Leishman (50/1, DK Price $8,000) has performed excellently at this event in recent years. Leishman has recorded three top-10 finishes at the Open Championship in his last four appearances, and he looks reasonably priced to go well once again this week. An excellent wind player, Leishman will relish any wind that may descend on Carnoustie. With him being so adept at playing links golf, taking an expert at $8,000 seems a prudent play.

Leishman’s immediate form hasn’t been spectacular, but he has made five cuts from his last six events, including a runner-up finish at the Byron Nelson where he shot a brilliant 61 in the opening round. The Australian finished T13 at his previous outing at the Quicken Loans National, which shows his game is in solid shape. With his expertise on links courses, Leishman may well be able to conquer Carnoustie and finally get his hands on the Claret Jug.

Emiliano Grillo (200/1, DK Price $6,800) is undervalued this week. On DraftKings, with the books, everywhere. Grillo has been playing terrific golf lately, and Carnoustie should suit the Argentine’s clinical ball striking. Over his previous 24 rounds, Grillo sits 15th in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, fifth in Strokes Gained-Putting, 17th in ball striking and 10th in Strokes Gained-Total. Grillo has three top-25 finishes in his last four events, and he has shown he can produce his best golf at this event in the past, finishing T12 at Royal Troon back in 2016. At 200/1 and $6,800 on DraftKings, Emiliano Grillo looks the value play of the week.

Recommended Plays

  • Jon Rahm 20/1, DK Price $9,800
  • Francesco Molinari 33/1, DK Price $8,600
  • Marc Leishman 50/1, DK Price $8,000
  • Emiliano Grillo 200/1, DK Price $6,800
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Opinion & Analysis

The Golf Engine predicts the top 25 finishers at The Open Championship

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The field for the 147th British Open is set at the historic Carnoustie Golf Links. The Golf Engine modeled over 1,500 statistics tracked by the PGA Tour for every tournament dating back to 2004. We looked at how each stat contributes to what we can expect from players on this stage, at this tournament. It’s a complex web of information that can only be properly analyzed by a machine, yet yields some objectively surprising results.

This year’s British Open is no exception as the model is calling for Webb Simpson (125/1 odds) to make a run into the top 10 at least.

Some surprises:

Back-to-back U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka (22/1) inside the top 5.

Webb Simpson (125/1) and Phil Mickelson (66/1) inside the top 10.

Emiliano Grillo (100/1) inside the top 15.

Kevin Na (175/1), Luke List (125/1), and Ryan Moore (150/1) inside top the 25.

Perhaps just as surprising are the golfers that may under-perform this week. Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood don’t make the top 10 cutoff. Alex Noren, Francesco Molinari who finished T2 at TPC Deere Run last week, and Sergio Garcia are all projected outside of our top 25.

Notable left-outs:

Rory McIlroy (16/1) and Tommy Fleetwood (20/1) finishing outside the top 10.

Alex Noren (30/1), Francesco Molinari (33//1), and Sergio Garcia (28/1) all finishing outside the top 25.

A few more points of note:

Top 5

It’s fascinating that Dustin Johnson gets the call for top dawg from both the oddsmakers and the model. No question he is the best player in the world right now, but it’s been a few years since DJ really contended (2011) in this tournament — and at a different course — Royal St George’s. He does have a pair of Top 10’s in 2012 and 2016 and has made the cut every year since 2009 (his first Open).

Justin Rose, not that his name doesn’t come up every year for this tournament, just that his style of play is generally considered to be different than the players on either side of him (Johnson and Koepka).

Speaking of Koepka, few are calling for him to win at Carnoustie though he does shows up inside the top 5 here…

Jordan Spieth, although winning this tournament last year – has not put up the best numbers of his already memorable career the past few months. Frankly I’m a little surprised the numbers bear this out…

Perhaps the third least surprising name to see on this list (aside from Johnson and Rose) is Rickie Fowler, aka: Mr. Consistency, aka: the Perennial Contender, aka: always the Bridesmaid. Rickie almost always brings his A-game, and the data suggests it suits this course well. Curious to see if this is the year his major championship drought comes to an end.

Top 10

Webb Simpson might be the most surprising pick on this list. Clearly the model likes something about his game this year and the way he is set up for this tournament. A career-low 61 to open at The Greenbrier (his last start), T10 at the U.S. Open a month ago and earning his 5th career victory at The PLAYERS were each separated by missed cuts.

Top 25

For a guy with short odds, Rory McIlroy to be projected outside of the top 10, which really speaks to the consistency (or lack thereof) of his game this season.

Other notables:

No love from the model for Matt Kuchar, Scotsman Russel Knox, Adam Scott, Ian Poulter, or Louis Oosthuizen.

Projected Rank Player Odds
1 Dustin Johnson 12/1
2 Justin Rose 16/1
3 Brooks Koepka 22/1
4 Jordan Spieth 20/1
5 Rickie Fowler 16/1
6 Webb Simpson 125/1
7 Justin Thomas 22/1
8 Jason Day 33/1
9 Phil Mickelson 66/1
10 Jon Rahm 20/1
11 Henrik Stenson 28/1
12 Emiliano Grillo 100/1
13 Paul Casey 40/1
14 Patrick Reed 35/1
15 Rory McIlroy 16/1
16 Tommy Fleetwood 20/1
17 Bubba Watson 80/1
18 Tiger Woods 22/1
19 Kevin Na 175/1
20 Hideki Matsuyama 50/1
21 Bryson DeChambeau 125/1
22 Luke List 125/1
23 Ryan Moore 150/1
24 Tony Finau 100/1
25 Charles Howell III 500/1
Odds Courtesy of Bovada

View the projected finish of the entire 2018 British Open Field.

How the Golf Engine makes its picks

In golf, a pro matches up as much with the golf-course as another competitor. Which is why any attempt to predict the outcome of a golf tournament, must take into account the nuances of the course. Beyond conjecture made by the golf pundits, analyzing past and present data through the use of math can more accurately project future performance.

In this model, we use machine learning to evaluate 1,500 different statistics for every golfer on the PGA Tour over each tournament since 2004. The analysis of this massive dataset allows gives us an opportunity to predict players that are sitting on low round scores.

The machine learns how these statistics can become a unique strength or glaring weakness for each golfer by comparing tens of thousands of different combinations and separating the patterns from the noise. The resulting ‘model’ is able to ‘deep dive’ and determine when to expect low rounds from a pro, given their unique style of play. These calculations are next to impossible to do quickly and certainly without personal and subjective biases, until now.

Learn more about the author, Pat Ross.

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Opinion & Analysis

I’m practicing. Why am I not getting better at golf?

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We all want to improve our golf games; we want to shoot lower scores, make more birdies and win bragging rights from our friends. As a result, we practice and invest many hours in trying to improve. However, do we improve as quickly as we want to? Is there something we’ve been missing?

“The secret is in the dirt,” Ben Hogan said. And he was right. To date, not one golfer has become an elite player without investing thousands of hours in improving their golf game. And yet, there are thousands of amateur golfers who practice every week and don’t get better. What is the difference? To me, this is a very interesting question. What underpins how or why we learn? Furthermore, how can we super-charge our rate of learning? 

To super-charge our learning, we must first realize that practice itself does not make us better at golf. This is an empty promise. It is close to the truth but incorrect. Instead, practice, when done correctly, will cause changes in our body to make us more skillful over time. This is a subtle, but important difference. There is no magic type of practice that universally builds skill, however, there are a handful of factors that can speed up, slow down or even stop your progress.

Remember: “You are not aiming to hit 50 balls; you are trying to become more skillful.”

There are the two major factors that stop golfers improving. Try not to view them as switches that are on or off. Instead, view both factors as sliding scales. The more you can fine-tune each factor, the faster you will improve your golf.

1) Give your body clear and precise feedback

What is 2 + 2? Imagine if you were never given the answer to this question at school. If you weren’t, you would never know the answer. Similarly, imagine you made a golf swing and the instant you hit the golf ball it disappeared. How would you know what to do on your next attempt to hit a straighter shot?

In both cases, feedback is the missing ingredient. Feedback comes from the shot outcome, watching the ball flight and many other sensations we get during our golf swing. As soon as our body does not have clear and precise feedback our learning will stop.

When we first learn to play golf, the feedback required to improve is simple – did the ball move at all, and did it get airborne? As we progress, we then need more precise feedback to keep developing our skill.

As a 20 handicapper, we need to know if the ball finished 10 or 15 yards right of our target. When we become an elite player, the requirement for feedback becomes even more stringent. The difference between a wedge shot landing 103 or 107 yards becomes important. This type of feedback, known as knowledge of results, is focused on the result of your golf shot.

“If your body can’t tell the difference between two outcomes, you will not make any changes – learning will not occur.”

To learn, we also require another form of feedback, known as knowledge of performance. In essence, your body needs to know what it did to cause “x.” Relevant practice drills, training aids and videoing your swing are all useful ways to increase feedback on performance. The best form of feedback, however, is an internal understanding of your swing and how it causes different ball flights. This is an implicit skill all great golfers master, and a by-product of many hours of diligent practice, refinement and understanding.

Many golfers hit a brick wall in their golfing journey when their practice stops providing the precise feedback they need to keep improving. They may not have enough information about their shot outcome, or they may not understand how the golf swing causes various shots. Both will completely halt your golfing progress.

Next time you practice, think of ways you can obtain clearer feedback. You don’t need Trackman by your side (although this can be helpful), but pay attention to where your shots finish during putting and chipping practice and note these trends. Find landmarks behind your golf range to gauge the lateral error of your long shots.

If you’re working on your swing path through the point of impact, one way of obtaining feedback on your performance is to place a bottle or a second ball on the ground. To put it simply, if the bottle/ball flies, you’ll know you’ve made a bad swing. Another way, if you are trying to improve your iron striking, is to place a towel one inch behind the ball to indicate whether or not you have hit the ground before the ball. These ideas are not mind-blowing, but trust me; they will speed up your rate of learning.

2) Make your practice suitably difficult

When you first go to the gym, lifting the lightest weight you can find is fine. But how much would your fitness improve if you were still lifting that same weight 12 months later? Now think of how your golf practice has changed over the past 12 months. If you were asked, could you explain the level of difficulty of your practice?

The reason many golfers can’t answer this question is they don’t have a good measure of success when they practice. Most golfers don’t have a quantifiable way to say “that shot I just hit was or wasn’t good enough.” Even fewer golfers have a way to say “this week my practice performance was 20 percent better than last week.” If you fall into this category, try the following game the next time you practice your long game.

Structure your practice so that you have set target zones (10 yards and 20 yards wide) with points for hitting each zone (3 and 1 points respectively). Take a set amount of balls (20 balls) and see how many points you can score with a 6-iron and a driver (10 balls with each). Each week, play this game and track your progress. We’ll call this game the “WRX Range Challenge.”

Set a goal for how many points you want to achieve. This goal should be challenging, but not impossible. When you reach this goal, make your target zones smaller and repeat the process. This way you can track your progress over time. As you make the target zones smaller and smaller, your body has to continually refine your swing to make it more effective.

Summary

We all want to improve our golf. We all want to get better at a quicker rate. The two factors discussed here are obvious and yet are not addressed by many golfers when they practice. Next time you head to the range or practice ground, ensure you have clear feedback on your shot outcome and golfing technique. Make your practice measurable, suitably difficult and enjoy watching your scores progress.

If you do try out the WRX Range Challenge, let us know. Post your score and a photo: #WRXrangechallenge @GolfWRX and me @golfinsideruk on Twitter and Instagram.

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