What do you get when you combine Division I-level golf talent, a Ph.D. in Mathematics, a passion for understanding how people process analytical information, and a knowledge of the psychology behind it? In short, you get Kevin Moore, but the long version of the story is much more interesting.
Kevin Moore attended the University of Akron on a golf scholarship from 2001-2005. Upon completing his tenure with the team, he found himself burned out on the game and promptly hung up his sticks. For a decade.
After completing his BS and MS degrees at the University of Akron, Kevin then went to Arizona State to pursue his Ph.D. Ultimately what drew him to the desert was the opportunity to research the psychology behind how people process analytical information. In his own words:
“My research in mathematics education is actually in the realm of student cognition (how students think and learn). From that, I’ve gained a deep understanding of developmental psychology in the mathematical world and also a general understanding of psychology as a whole; how our brains work, how we make decisions, and how we respond to results.”
In 2015, Kevin started to miss the game he loved. Now a professor of mathematics education at the University of Georgia, he dusted off his clubs and set a goal to play in USGA events. That’s when it all started to come together.
“I wanted to play some interesting courses for my satellite qualifiers and I wasn’t able to play practice rounds to be able to check them out in advance. So I modified a math program to let me do all the strategic planning ahead of time. I worked my way around the golf course, plotting out exactly how I wanted to hit shot, and minimizing my expected score for each hole. I bundled that up into a report that I could study to prepare for the rounds.
“I’m not long enough to overpower a golf course, so I needed to find a way to make sure I was putting myself in the best positions possible to minimize my score. There might be a pin position on a certain green where purposely hitting an 8-iron to 25 feet is the best strategy for me. I’ll let the rest of the field take on that pin and make a mistake even if they’re only hitting wedge. I know that playing intelligently aggressive to the right spot is going to allow me to pick up fractions of strokes here and there.”
Here’s what the leaders have to look forward to as they close “The Bear Trap”. The 17th plays to a mere 156 yards today, but any play at the pin depth or line necessarily brings the penalty area into play. Commit to a line, hit the shot, and accept the result. pic.twitter.com/g0a2qqCv3E
— Squares2Circles (@Squares2Circles) March 3, 2019
His plan worked, too. Kevin made it to the USGA Mid-Amateur at Charlotte Country Club in September of 2018 using this preparation method for his events just three years after taking a decade off of golf. In case you missed the implied sentiment, that’s extremely impressive. When Kevin showed his reports to some friends that played on the Web.com Tour and the Mackenzie Tour, they were so impressed they asked him to think about generating them for other people. The first group he approached was the coaching staff at the University of Georgia, who promptly enlisted his services to assist their team with course strategy in the spring of 2019. That’s when Squares2Circles really started to get some traction.
At that point, UGA hadn’t had a team win in over two seasons. They also hadn’t had an individual winner in over one season and had missed out on Nationals the previous two seasons. In the spring of 2019, they had three team wins (including winning Regionals to advance to Nationals) and two individual wins (including Davis Thompson’s win at Regionals). Obviously, the credit ultimately belongs to the players on the team, but suffice it to say it appears as though Kevin’s involvement with the team was decidedly useful.
“One of the things we really focused in on was par 3 scoring. They finished 3rd, 2nd, 4th, and 3rd in the field as a team in their spring tournaments. Then at the SEC’s they struggled a bit and finished 6th in the field. At Regionals, they turned it around and finished 1st in the field with a score of +6 across 60 scores (186 total on 60 par 3’s, an average of 3.10).”
Kevin is available outside of his work with UGA and has been employed by other D-I teams (including his alma mater of Akron), Mackenzie Tour players, Web.com Tour players, and competitive juniors as well. Using his modified math program, he can generate generic course guides based on assumed shot dispersions, but having more specific Trackman data for the individual allows him to take things to a new level. This allows him to show the player exactly what their options are with their exact carry numbers and shot dispersions.
“Everything I do is ultimately based off of strokes gained data. I don’t reinvent the wheel there and I don’t use any real new statistics (at least not yet), but I see my role as interpreting that data. Let’s say a certain player is an average of -2.1 on strokes gained approach over the last 10 rounds. That says something about his game, but it doesn’t say if it’s strategy or execution. And it doesn’t help you come up with a practice plan either. I love to help players go deeper than just the raw data to help them understand why they’re seeing what they’re seeing. That’s where the good stuff is. Not just the data, but the story the data tells and the psychology behind it. How do we get ourselves in the right mindset to play golf and think through a round and commit to what we’re doing?”
“Even if you’re able to play practice rounds, this level of preparation turns those practice rounds into more of an experiment than a game plan session. You go into your practice round already knowing the golf course and already having a plan of attack. This allows you to use that practice round to test that game plan before the competition starts. You may decide to tweak a few things during your practice round based on course conditions or an elevation change here and there, but for the most part it’s like you’ve gained a free practice round. It allows you to be more comfortable and just let it fly a lot earlier.”
On Spec: How technology will change the game in 2020
In this episode of On Spec, Ryan gives his final wrap-up of the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show and talks about the products he believes are going to truly help golfers improve in 2020.
Flatstick Focus: 2020 PGA Show Recap Part 1
In Episode 5, we recap the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show. We were able to see some great new products, meet some wonderful people, and start lining up some great guests for the podcast. We had to record this in the truck on the drive home, so please excuse the sound quality. We hope you enjoy the episode!
Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below.
GolfWRX Radio: 2020 PGA Show wrap-up
The 2020 PGA Merchandise Show comes to an end, and we break down the best stuff we saw all week. Johnny Wunder, Ryan Barath, Rob Miller, and Brian Knudson talk about the interviews, booths, and wild stuff they saw all week. We also rate the show from 1-10!
Best irons in golf of 2019
Best irons in golf of 2019: Top overall performers
Chris DiMarco calls Patrick Reed a cheater and a “d*ck” in social media rant
Best irons in golf of 2019: Most technology packed
“Old Man Golf Media”? Barstool Sports and some of golf’s leading journalists involved in bitter online feud
Best irons in golf of 2019: The shotmakers
Presidents Cup WITBs: U.S. Team
Best irons in golf of 2019: Pure enjoyment
Forum Thread of the Day: “Hitting blades better than game improvement irons?”
Long live the half set
Golf world pays tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant
On Sunday, multiple news sources confirmed that basketball star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, had been killed along...
How much each player won at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open
Marc Leishman’s putting masterclass on Sunday gave him his fifth win on the PGA Tour as well as the top...
The 6 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today (1.24.20)
In this segment, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best #GolfWRX tagged photos on Instagram. In case...
World Golf Hall of Fame changes age criteria; Tiger Woods eligible for induction in 2021
On Tuesday, the World Golf Hall of Fame announced its amended age criteria for induction which paves the way for...
Whats in the Bag6 days ago
Tiger Woods WITB: 2020 Farmers Insurance Open
Equipment1 week ago
From a Fitter: Everything you need to know about wedge shafts
Equipment2 weeks ago
Nike Golf unveils new Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour golf shoe in collaboration with Brooks Koepka
Whats in the Bag6 days ago
Rory McIlroy WITB: 2020 Farmers Insurance Open
Whats in the Bag2 weeks ago
Tommy Fleetwood WITB: 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Equipment3 days ago
GolfWRX Live at the 2020 PGA Show: Top 10 things we loved
Equipment1 week ago
2020 Scotty Cameron Special Select putters
Tour Photo Galleries4 days ago
Top photos from the Farmers Insurance Open