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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: How Jon Rahm survived a tough Memorial

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There’s a new Number One in the Official World Golf Rankings. Jon Rahm survived difficult conditions on Sunday to clinch the Memorial Tournament and become the first Spanish number one since Seve Ballesteros. High winds combined with fast and firm conditions decimated the field on Sunday where the golf became more of a game of survival than scoring.

Winning on the PGA Tour is hard, but it helps if you start with a four-shot lead with one round to play. Rahm really separated himself from the field on Saturday with a round he called one of the best of his career, especially given how the tough conditions forced some mistakes down the stretch.

Let’s take a look at his final day scorecard using the Scorecard Heatmap from V1 Game.

Rahm looked to be cruising through his opening nine on Sunday, putting on a solid display of golf and taming the par 5s as he had done throughout the week. However, things turned south on the back nine. Some wild drives around the turn, a missed short putt on 14, and then the debacle of the 16th (more on that later) almost undid the cushion he had built over 63 holes. However, clutch short-game play and putting kept the bleeding to a minimum.

Rahm is more of what you’d expect in a typical winner on the PGA Tour. He bashes the driver and dominates the par 5s, which can be seen below. Each day, he scored several strokes under par on the par 5s, with the exception of Sunday, where a double wiped out two front-nine birdies. All in all, Rahm birdied 11 of 16 par 5s. More than 61 percent of his birdies came on par 5s. For reference, par 5s are only 22 percent of the holes played.

Rahm has been a good closer in his young career, but it’s hard not to feel tight with the number 1 ranking in your sights. From the Strokes Gained Stacked chart, Rahm’s performance definitely took a hit on Sunday in a seven-shot swing from the day prior. The majority of that came on the back nine where he lost over FIVE STROKES to an average Tour Pro performance (on an average week). A portion of those five strokes lost were on number 16, where a late ruling added two strokes two his momentum-saving chip in.

In real-time, the chip-in birdie added some much-needed help to his score and his psyche, despite later becoming a bogey. It would seem like a two-stroke penalty would be quite harmful from a strokes gained perspective, however, without the penalty, the chip-in gained almost 1.5 strokes. Thus, with the two stroke penalty, Rahm only lost 0.6 strokes on the shot. The momentum boost it gave him would have been eliminated and added significant pressure had he known about the penalty during the round.

T2G gets the green

There is a saying that you “drive for show and putt for dough.” However, the reality on the tour is that Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: T2G) is the dominant factor in scoring. SGT2G accounts for all shots not on a putting green. Basically strokes gained without putting. If you correlate strokes gained performance to score, you’ll almost always find that tee-to-green performance dominates. In Jon Rahm’s case, tee-to-green performance was responsible for almost all of his scoring. In statistical terms, tee-to-green performance accounts for 98 percent of the variation in his scoring. Driving had the second biggest impact, followed by approach.

What can the average player learn from that? If you really want to improve your scores, your potential will be mostly determined by your tee-to-green play. Most players are much closer to a tour pro on putting green than off the tee box.

This week, the main takeaway is that sometimes golf turns into a game of survival. Get the ball in the hole any way you can. It is not always pretty.

Download V1 Game in the app store today and start tracking your golf performance like the pros. Click here to download V1 Game.

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Elk is in the house!

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In this episode of TGD brought to you by Titleist, Johnny chats with the one, the only, the legend Steve Elkington.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The differences between good and bad club fitters—and they’re not what you think

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Club fitting is still a highly debated topic, with many golfers continuing to believe they’re just not good enough to be fit. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s a topic for another day.

Once you have decided to invest in your game and equipment, however, the next step is figuring out where to get fit, and working with a fitter.  You see, unlike professionals in other industries, club fitting “certification” is still a little like the wild west. While there are certification courses and lesson modules from OEMs on how to fit their specific equipment, from company to company, there is still some slight variance in philosophy.

Then there are agnostic fitting facilities that work with a curated equipment matrix from a number of manufacturers. Some have multiple locations all over the country and others might only have a few smaller centralized locations in a particular city. In some cases, you might even be able to find single-person operations.

So how do you separate the good from the bad? This is the million-dollar question for golfers looking to get fit. Unless you have experience going through a fitting before or have a base knowledge about fitting, it can feel like an intimidating process. This guide is built to help you ask the right questions and pay attention to the right things to make sure you are getting the most out of your fitting.

The signs of a great fitter

  • Launch monitor experience: Having some type of launch monitor certification isn’t a requirement but being able to properly understand the interpret parameters is! A good fitter should be able to explain the parameters they are using to help get the right clubs and understand how to tweak specs to help you get optimized. The exact labeling may vary depending on the type of launch monitor but they all mostly provide the same information….Here is an example of what a fitter should be looking for in an iron fitting: “The most important parameter in an iron fitting” 
  • Communication skills: Being able to explain why and how changes are being made is a telltale sign your fitter is knowledgeable—it should feel like you are learning something along the way. Remember, communication is a two-way street so also being a good listener is another sign your working with a good fitter.
  • Transparency: This involves things like talking about price, budgets, any brand preferences from the start. This prevents getting handed something out of your price range and wasting swings during your fit.
  • A focus on better: Whether it be hitting it further and straighter with your driver or hitting more greens, the fitting should be goal-orientated. This means looking at all kinds of variables to make sure what you are getting is actually better than your current clubs. Having a driver you hit 10 yards farther isn’t helpful if you don’t know where it’s going….A great fitter that knows their stuff should quickly be able to narrow down potential options to 4-5 and then work towards optimizing from there.
  • Honesty and respect: These are so obvious, I shouldn’t even have to put it on the list. I want to see these traits from anybody in a sales position when working with customers that are looking to them for knowledge and information…If you as the golfer is only seeing marginal gains from a new product or an upgrade option, you should be told that and given the proper information to make an informed decision. The great fitters, and I’ve worked with a lot of them, will be quick to tell a golfer, “I don’t think we’re going to beat (X) club today, maybe we should look at another part of your bag where you struggle.” This kind of interaction builds trust and in the end results in happy golfers and respected fitters.

The signs of a bad fitter

  • Pushing an agenda: This can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whether it be a particular affinity towards certain brands of clubs or even shafts. If you talk to players that have all been to the same fitter and their swings and skill levels vary yet the clubs or brands of shafts they end up with (from a brand agnostic facility) seem to be eerily similar it might be time to ask questions.
  • Poor communications: As you are going through the fitting process and warming up you should feel like you’re being interviewed as a way to collect data and help solve problems in your game. This process helps create a baseline of information for your fitter. If you are not experiencing that, or your fitter isn’t explaining or answering your questions directly, then there is a serious communication problem, or it could show lack of knowledge depth when it comes to their ability.
  • Lack of transparency: If you feel like you’re not getting answers to straightforward questions or a fitter tells you “not to worry about it” then that is a big no-no from me.
    Side note: It is my opinion that golfers should pay for fittings, and in a way consider it a knowledge-gathering session. Of course, the end goal for the golfer is to find newer better fitting clubs, and for the fitter to sell you them (let’s be real here), but you should never feel the information is not being shared openly.
  • Pressure sales tactics: It exists in every industry, I get it, but if you pay for your fitting you are paying for information, use it to your advantage. You shouldn’t feel pressured to buy, and it’s always OK to seek out a knowledgeable second opinion (knowledgeable being a very key word in that sentence!).  If you are getting the hard sell or any combination of the traits above, there is a good chance you’re not working with the right fitter for you.

Final thoughts

Great fitters with great reputations and proper knowledge have long lists, even waiting lists, of golfers waiting to see them. The biggest sign of a great fitter is a long list of repeat customers.

Golf is a game that can be played for an entire lifetime, and just like with teachers and swing coaches, the good ones are in it for the long haul to help you play better and build a rapport—not just sell you the latest and greatest (although we all like new toys—myself included) because they can make a few bucks.

Trust your gut, and ask questions!

 

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Podcasts

TG2: TaylorMade P7MB & P7MC Review | Oban CT-115 & CT-125 Steel Shafts

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Took the new TaylorMade P-7MB and P-7MC irons out on the course and the range. The new P-7MB and P-7MC are really solid forged irons for the skilled iron players. Great soft feel on both, MB flies really low, and the MC is more mid/low launch. Oban’s CT 115 & 125 steel shafts are some of the most consistent out there. Stout but smooth feel with no harsh vibration at impact.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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