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Data Study: Does climate matter for young golfers looking to reach top levels of golf?

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Let me ask you a question: When considering college, what’s the most important thing to you? Based on data collected on thousands of junior golfers, the top 3 answers are: academics, the coach and weather.

Since I love data, I thought it would be interesting to see how much weather actually matters for the development of golfers. I examined the weather for junior golf homes of top 20 male professional golfers, current top 20 amateurs in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and the last 20 individual NCAA National Champions. When gathering the data, I categorized each player on the list based on data from weather.com into 3 categories:

  1. 300+ days of golf per year with weather of at least 60 degrees
  2. 225+ days of golf per year with weather of at least 60 degrees
  3. 150 or so days of golf per year with weather of at least 60 degrees

Examples of 1’s are Florida, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and California, examples of 2’s are Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and examples of 3 are South Korea, Northern Ireland, Wisconsin, Canada and the Dakota’s.

Please note: while players might be from the same country, the regions have very different climates. Since the climates are different, the players ended in dissimilar categories.

The top 20 Players in the World

Category 1

Dustin Johnston (South Carolina), Brooks Keopka (Florida), Jordan Spieth (Texas), Rickie Fowler (California), Jason Day (Australia), Patrick Reed (Texas), Bubba Watson (Florida), Phil Mickelson (California), Marc Leishman (Australia), Sergio (Spain)

Total = 10

Category 2

Justin Thomas (Kentucky), John Rahm (Spain), Hideki Matsuyama (Japan), Franscesco Molinari (Italy)

Total = 4

Category 3

Justin Rose (England), Rory McIlroy (N. Ireland), Tommy Fleetwood (England), Paul Casey (England), Alex Noren (Sweden), Henrik Stenson (Sweden)

Total = 6

Top 20 Players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking

Category 1

Braden Thornberry (Mississippi), Justin Suh (California), Collin Morikawa (California), Min Woo Lee (Australia), Chandler Phillips (Texas, Fredrik Nilehn (Texas), Sadom Kaewkanjana (Thailand), Andy Zhang (Florida), Matthew Wolff (California / Oklahoma), Angel Hidalgo Portillo (Spain), Shintaro Ban (Nevada)

Total = 11

Category 2

Zach Bauchou (Oklahoma/Virginia)

Total = 1

Category 3

Victor Hovland (Oklahoma/Norway), Matthew Jordan (England), Oliver Gillbery (Sweden), Nicolai Hojgaard (Denmark), Robin Dawson (Ireland), Todd Clements (England), , David Micheluzzi (Australia), Stewart Hagestad (New York)

Total = 8

The last 20 Individual NCAA Champions

Category 1

Braden Thornberry (Mississippi), Aaron Wise (Cape Town, SA / Live in California), Max Homa (California), John Peterson (Texas), Kevin Chappell (California), Jamie Lovemark (California), Jonathan Moore (California), Alejandro Canizares (Spain), Troy Matteson (Florida), Charles Howell (Georgia) and James Mclean (Australia)

Total = 11

Category 2

James Lepp (Canada)

Total = 1

Category 3

Broc Everett (Iowa), Cameron Wilson (Connecticut), Thomas Pieters (Belgium), Scott Langley (Illinois), Matt Hill (Canada), Ryan Moore (Washington), Nick Gilliam (Wisconsin), Luke Donald (England)

Total = 8

Conclusion

Based on the data, 53 percent (32/60) came from category 1 climates, 10 percent (6/60) came from category 2 climates and 37 percent (22/60) came from category 3 climates. Surprised? While more research is needed to fully understand the nuances, environment is certainly tied to the individuals learning. Based on this, here are some takeaways for players from different climates.

Ideal Climates: While you have the best opportunity based on the weather and course conditions to shoot a good score, it is important to invest in developing different shot shapes and trajectories, as well as learning to play in the rain / wind when it comes; next time it’s raining in Southern California run to the first tee and get in 9 holes. When the weather is idea, consider playing different games to sharpen your skills. For example, play with just irons, or ever other iron, or the rough out of bounds or play where your competitor names the shot shape you need to hit each shot.

Less than Ideal Climates: While you have less opportunity to shoot low scores in perfect weather and conditions, you have great opportunities to invest in skills that will serve you in the long run. In my experience the best players from these climates use cold months very carefully to refine technical skills through lots of block practice. They are also diligent about the time they have on the course, keeping careful stats and making sure nice days are spent at the course engaged in competition. When the weather is not ideal, don’t be afraid to play from a much shorter yardage to ensure you can still shoot good scores.

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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - www.golfplacementservices.com Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. 2Putt

    Oct 4, 2018 at 9:32 am

    I thought Texas was category 2…?

  2. Polar Bear

    Oct 4, 2018 at 4:07 am

    Fredrik Nilehn is from Gothenburg in Sweden but goes to Texas Tech

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