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How close are you for your first putts?

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As the college golf season has ended for my team, it allows me to get my game back into shape.

After eight months of encouraging our team members to focus on what they can control and what we have been able to determine as key performance indicators (KPI) for lower scores, I now have a chance to continue to develop as a coach with me as the test subject. Anything I ask of my players I test out on myself first during the breaks in the academic calendar.

Our goals for KPI’s are:

  • Combination of 14 birdies/pars
  • 10 GIR
  • 1 or fewer 3 putts
  • 1 or fewer doubles/worse

The concept with the KPI’s is to limit the mistakes by taking the time to make a smart decision based on the situation. Breaking it down every way I could think of led to shooting 77. Not bad, and we’d take 4 “meh” 77s because it was more likely we’d only have one or two “meh” 77s and a couple of lower 70s. We had a pretty solid spring season after putting this into play, but with the strength of where women’s golf is, we were on the outside looking in as a team for NCAA Regionals.

With all this, and recently listening to a mini-series podcast put on by Golf Science Lab, I wanted to take a look at our 10 GIR KPI and see if we can adjust it with what Will Robbins and Cordie Walker discussed about proximity.

So, off I went and played a couple of rounds this weekend, posting scores of 75 and 78. Both rounds I hit 9 GIRs (just below the target number), yet walking away from both rounds felt completely different. I was pretty satisfied with how I played when I shot 75 and was very excited to get back at it later in the weekend. Compared to shooting the 78, I was rather discouraged. Sitting down to compare the rounds, specifically looking at the proximity sheds a bit of light.

For my round of 75, I averaged 21’ away from the pin when I hit shots to the green from outside 100 yards. When I was chipping I averaged 5.5’. For my round of 78, I averaged 30’ away from the pin when I hit shots to the green from outside 100 yards. When I was chipping I averaged 6.5’.

Overall pretty good stats both days, but it goes to show that every foot counts! Here are some interesting side stats:

  • My shortest birdie putt came on the day I shot 78
  • The difference between shortest (11’) and longest (43’) birdies putts the day I shot 75 was 32’
  • …and the day I shot 78: 56’ (shortest 10’ and longest 66’)

Seeing this, I will think through the importance of proximity for our team to be able to achieve our goals next season. I still think there is an importance of getting the putter in hand as soon as possible but just hitting a green in regulation does not guarantee a low score.

While I will not advise anyone to shoot at every pin, learning to recognize our shot patterns to not only have GIRs but also shorter first putts will be an important part of our 2019-2020 season.

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Erin is the Director of Student Athlete Development and Women's Golf Coach at Wingate University. Erin holds a Masters of Arts in Sports Management from Wingate University and is Class A member of the PGA of Canada, a member of the Women’s Golf Coaches Association, and two time SAC Coach of the Year. She aims to help guide student athletes through their time at Wingate, making connections of what they learn in their sport and how they can apply it their careers after graduation.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Brandon

    May 29, 2019 at 11:12 am

    I have come to the same conclusion for my game and am working on getting approach shots closer to the hole. I would like to hear how you determine which pins are pins to shoot at and which are ones to play safe. I naturally play a draw and have found left pins are easier for me to go at but still trying to find a few criteria i can quickly go through to determine if a pin placement is a good one to attack for my skill set or if it makes more sense to aim for the middle.

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