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Statistically-based pairings for the U.S. Ryder Cup team

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The U.S. Ryder Cup team appears to be — based on popular opinion — the heavy underdog against the Europeans. The U.S. team lost some key members due to Dustin Johnson’s leave of absence and Jason Dufner’s injuries that kept him from qualifying. Also, while Tiger Woods has not been a historically great Ryder Cup player, he is one of the best players in the world and a golfer the U.S. counts on for stability and leadership. His well-documented injuries and poor play, however, leave him sidelined for this year’s Ryder Cup.

On the opposing squad, the Europeans have had quite a strong year despite regressions in the play of two superstar players — Luke Donald (who did not make the team) and Lee Westwood.

Despite the opinion that the Europeans will win, I believe that if the U.S. team pairs players that are more statistically favorable instead of the “these two players are good friends, so we will pair them together” strategy, they have a realistic chance at winning the Ryder Cup. While I do not recall Davis Love III using a statistically-based pairing system, his pairings in 2012 mostly fit in line with what the numbers showed, and the U.S. team had a 10-6 lead going into Sunday. So his pairings were not the reason why the U.S. did not win at Medinah. Rather, the players simply failed to close out the Europeans on Sunday’s single matches.

For reference, here is a table of rankings for each member of the U.S. team in the key metrics for Ryder Cup play. The rankings are based out of 177 players:

RyderCupPairings

General principles for pairing players in each format

Four-Ball Format: This is the ‘best score’ format. Therefore, this is more about scoring ability than ball-striking, short game and putting ability. The par-4 play is most important because there are more par-4’s than there are par-5’s and par-3’s. If the golfer is a poor performer on the par-5’s or par-3’s, then they should be paired with a player that performs well on those particular holes. Also, a high birdie-rate is preferable since the majority of time the team will be able to make at least a par.

Foursomes Format: This is the alternate shot format. Therefore, this is more about meshing together the players’ ball-striking, short game and putting ability. Short Game shots from 10-20 yards and the ability to save par is at a premium here. The foursomes format also tends to favor players that hit a lot of fairways, but that is not always needed if the rest of the players’ games jive well together. For example, a player that may miss a lot of fairways may work perfectly with another player that hits it well on shots from out of the rough.

Below is a brief analysis of each member on the U.S. team.

Keegan Bradley

KeeganRyderCup

Strengths: Par-4 play, Par-3 Play, All-Around Game
Weaknesses: Par-5 play, Iron play from 75-175 yards
Suitable Four-ball Partners: Fowler, Kuchar, Simpson, Spieth, Watson and Walker
Suitable Foursome Partners: Mickelson, Spieth and Watson

While Bradley did not win this season, he has the makeup of an excellent Ryder Cup player. What is interesting is that he struggled a bit on the par-5’s this year despite usually being an excellent par-5 player. With that, I would try and put Keegan with high birdie-rate players that play the par-5’s well in the four-ball format. Keegan should be a quality Foursome partner because he drives it very well and has a good short game. If he is a little off with his driving, it’s because he is missing fairways and I would pair him with good players from the rough that don’t make many bogeys.

Rickie Fowler

Strengths: Par-4 play, Par-5 play, Bogey-rate, Birdie Rate, Driving and shots from 10-20 yds
Weaknesses: Hit Fwy %, Shots from the Rough
Suitable Four-ball Partners: Bradley, Kuchar, Mickelson, Simpson, Watson, Walker
Suitable Foursome Partners: Furyk and Mahan

Fowler struggled massively with the putter early on and has made a huge turnaround on the greens since Riviera, so he is riding a hot putter coming into the Ryder Cup and played superbly in the majors this year. The only weaknesses are his play from the rough, and he does not hit a ton of fairways.

He is better in the four-ball format given his scoring metrics so you can pair him with just about anybody there. In the Foursome format, I would lean towards a good player from the rough that finds a lot of fairways so he does not have to hit many shots from the long grass.

Jim Furyk

JimFurykRyderCup

Strengths: Par-4, Par-5 and Par-3 play. Bogey rate, Hit Fwy %, Iron Play, Short game
Weaknesses: Age and historically a poor Four-ball format player.
Suitable Four-ball Partners: N/A
Suitable Foursome Partners: Kuchar, Zach Johnson, and Simpson.

While Furyk plays the par-4’s, par-5’s and par-3’s superbly, he has historically struggled in the four-ball format because he is not a birdie-maker. Therefore, I would not even consider him in the four-ball format. He is better suited in the foursomes format because he finds fairways, hits greens and makes saves. I think he would be best with a player that also finds a lot of fairways, hits approach shots well from the fairway and is a good putter.

Zach Johnson

Strengths: Par-5 play, 175-225 yard play, Driving, fairway play, Hit Fwy %, Shots from 10-20 yards
Weaknesses: Age, Driving Distance, Shots from Rough
Suitable Four-ball Partners: Kuchar, Mickelson, Simpson, Spieth, Watson and Walker
Suitable Foursome Partners: Furyk, Kuchar, Mahan and Simpson

Johnson is much like Furyk except he is a more suitable player in the four-ball format because he makes more birdies. He is a player that Watson could possibly ride since he fits both formats pretty well. However, his putting has not been as good as people think (79th in Strokes Gained: Putting). So, in the foursomes format I would want to stick him with some good putters that keep the ball in the fairways.

Matt Kuchar

MattKucharRyderCup

Strengths: Par-4 play, Bogey and Birdie Rates, Driving, Hit Fwy %, Shots from 175-225 yards, Short Game and Putting
Weaknesses: Driving Distance and shots from the rough
Suitable Four-ball Partners: Bradley, Fowler, Zach Johnson, Mahan, Reed, Simpson, Spieth, Watson and Walker
Suitable Foursome Partners: Furyk, Zach Johnson, Mahan and Simpson

Kuchar is more like Zach Johnson in that he fits in nicely in both formats and Tom Watson may want to ride him a bit. He suits almost anybody in the four-ball format. Given his troubles form the rough (130th), I would try and give him partners that find the fairway, strike it well from the fairway and can putt.

Hunter Mahan

Strengths: Par-4 play and Driving
Weaknesses: Par-3 play, Bogey Rate, Birdie Rate, Shots from 175-225 yds, Shots from the Fairway and Shots from 10-20 yards
Suitable Four-ball Partners: Kuchar, Watson and Walker
Suitable Foursome Partners: Fowler, Zach Johnson, Simpson and Spieth

The metrics show why I am not a fan of the Mahan pick. However, he has a decent track record in the Ryder Cup and played fairly well at the Open Championship. Mahan’s game has been highlighted by excellent driving and hamstrung by his inability to hit his irons well. This year he did not play well from 10-20 yards so this makes me a little more averse to putting him in the foursomes format.

I would like to see him with Bubba Watson in the four-ball format and re-create a similar team that Paul Azinger created with Boo Weekley and JB Holmes. Weekley, one of the best drivers in the world that hits the ball long and straight, would tee off first and consistently hit good drives past his opponents. If Weekley was in good position, that allowed Holmes a free rip to hit a drive 380 yards. I could see the same working with Mahan and Bubba.

Phil Mickelson

PhilRyderCup

Strengths: Par-4 play, Bogey and Birdie Rate, Shots from the Rough and shots from 10-20 yards
Weaknesses: Hit Fwy % and Shots from the Fairway
Suitable Four-ball Partners: Fowler, Spieth, Simpson, Watson and Walker
Suitable Foursome Partners: Bradley, Spieth, Watson and Walker

While Mickelson had one of his worst seasons in recent memory, his game is better suited for the Ryder Cup this year than in year’s past. He is still a player best suited for the four-ball format because he plays all of the holes well and makes a lot of birdies. I know there will be the temptation to place him and Bradley together in the four-ball format. It is not a bad idea, but the numbers indicate that other players like Fowler and Watson would be better suited in the four-ball format.

In the foursomes format, Mickelson’s driving has improved enough that he is not a burden to his partner off the tee. However, that partner will still need to be able to hit it well from the rough as Phil does not find many fairways. I would pair him with good overall drivers of the ball that hit the irons well, particularly from the rough.

Patrick Reed

Strengths: Streaky fantastic play, great past record in match play.
Weaknesses: Streaky poor play, Driving, Hit Fwy %, Shots from the rough and shots from 10-20 yds
Suitable Four-ball Partners: Kuchar, Spieth and Walker
Suitable Foursome Partners: n/a

Reed is an extremely streaky player. His metrics are not very impressive, but what I have recorded is that when he is on, he is as good as he thinks he is. And when he is off, he shuts down and calls it a week.

I would steer clear of putting him in the foursomes format because he is not very accurate off the tee and he is not very good with the Short Game. I think the streaky player likely works best in the four-ball format where they can kind of do their own thing.

Webb Simpson

WebbSimpsonRyderCup

Strengths: Par-4 play, Birdie Rate, Shots from the Fairway, Shots from 10-20 yards, putting
Weaknesses: Shots from 175-225 yards, Shots from the rough
Suitable Four-ball Partners: Bradley, Fowler, Johnson, Kuchar, Mahan, Mickelson, Spieth, Watson and Walker
Suitable Foursome Partners: Furyk, Kuchar and Johnson.

Simpson was a bit of a controversial pick and I can understand why. He is best suited for the four-ball format, but has struggled to avoid Bogeys. He has some good metrics for the foursomes format, but has massively struggled on shots from 175-225 yards and shots from the rough. I think the obvious choice in the four-ball format is to stick him with Bubba Watson, which worked well in 2010. I would recommend using Simpson in the foursomes format in a pinch, but find a player that hits a lot of fairways and can get up-and-down for when Simpson misses the green.

Jordan Spieth

Strengths: Par-3, Par-4 and Par-5 play. Birdie Rate and Putting
Weaknesses: Hit Fairway %
Suitable Four-ball Partners: Bradley, Kuchar, Johnson, Mickelson, Reed, Simpson, Watson and Walker
Suitable Foursome Partners: Bradley, Mahan, Mickelson, Watson and Walker

Jordan should be a player that is suitable in both formats. He is better off in the four-ball format, but in the foursomes format they should try and protect against his occasional driving woes and find a player that strikes it well off the tee and can hit it well from the rough if Jordan misses the fairway.

Bubba Watson

BubbaRyderCup

Strengths: Par-4’s, Par-5’s, Birdie and Bogey Rates, Driving, Distance, Shots from the fwy, Shots from the rough,
Weaknesses: Hit Fairway %, Shots from 10-20 yards, Putting
Suitable Four-ball Partners: Bradley, Furyk, Johnson, Kuchar, Mickelson, Spieth and Walker
Suitable Foursome Partners: Bradley, Mickelson, Spieth and Walker

Watson is better suited in the four-ball format where he pretty much fits well with just about every player on the team. The only question mark is that historically Watson has been a poor player on the par-3’s. He has done a good job on the par-3’s this year (57th), but I would still be guarded against that and seek out the players that are strong on those holes.

In the foursomes format, the main emphasis should be on putting and short game play along with shots from the rough. He is actually more accurate off the tee than most people give credit for, but when he misses he tends to miss big and you need a player that can recover from those shots.

Jimmy Walker

Strengths: Par-3, Par-4, Par-5 play, Birdie and Bogey Rates, Shots from 175-225 yards, Shots from the Rough and Putting
Weaknesses: Driving and Hit Fairway %
Suitable Four-ball Partners: All players
Suitable Foursome Partners: Mickelson, Spieth and Watson

Walker looks to be a great fit in the four-ball format. He is like a poor man’s Mickelson — an ineffective driver of the ball due to his inaccuracy off the tee, but he hits it a long way and is a great iron player with a good short game and putts very well. In the foursomes format I would pair him with players that are good from the rough, but he is much better suited for the four-ball format.

The U.S. teams have traditionally been very well-suited in the four-ball format. This team is no different as most of the members of the team appear to be quite strong in that format. However, the foursomes format has given them issues and this is a team that is very suspect in this format. Therefore, I feel that Captain Tom Watson should likely focus most of his efforts on the alternate shot format and if the U.S. team can break even in that format, they stand a good chance of winning.

My recommendations for the Friday pairings for Team USA

Foursomes Format

Bradley/Mickelson
Furyk/Spieth
Walker/Watson
Johnson/Kuchar

Four-Ball Format

Mahan/Bubba
Reed/Walker
Fowler/Bradley
Spieth/Kuchar

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Richie Hunt is a statistician whose clients include PGA Tour players, their caddies and instructors in order to more accurately assess their games. He is also the author of the recently published e-book, 2018 Pro Golf Synopsis; the Moneyball Approach to the Game of Golf. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @Richie3Jack. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: March 2014 Purchase 2017 Pro Golf Synopsis E-book for $10

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Pingback: ¿Cómo se confeccionan las parejas de la Ryder Cup? - Golf76.com

  2. Greg Palmer

    Sep 24, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I think metrics have become an important component to every sport, golf included, but by design, what they don’t take into account are the emotional nuances which are also critical elements – especially at events like this. The “statistical” approach alone has never produced a championship of any kind that I can remember. Clearly, champions produce mostly great statistics –

    If I were managing the pairings, I would be looking for a combination of statistics, guts for the moment, past records and experience to a point, and the ability to deliver on the big day. Obviously, being hot right now is a good thing too!

    Currently, the hottest players on the fall playoff list – a list in which Americans have 8 of the top 10 players – feature 6 American Ryder Cuppers. The top 2, Horschel and Kirk are out. That leaves in order 4-9: Furyk, Watson, Mahan, Walker, Kuchar, and Fowler. Spieth was not far behind, Simpson and Zach Johnson also were right there.

    Patrick Reed is the wildcard. He’s cocky and very streaky which might play out well in this format.

    Mickelson and Bradley are known commodities, 3-0-1 in 4somes and 2-1 in 4ball, and should be used together as long as they are competitive in these matches. If healthy and feeling good, they are a must play in every team match (3 of 4 for sure).

    Furyk scares me because his Ryder Cup record is awful! He is a gritty and tough grinder and I would be looking to pair him with another hot golfer out of the gate in foursomes – maybe even a rookie to bring some energy/spark to his play. He is 1-8-1 in fourball at the Ryder Cup, and therefore, he would not play one fourball match for me all weekend.

    In terms of matchups, I want Mickelson or Fowler going up against Rory at every possible team match. I might even throw Bubba in there for length at times, but Mickelson and Fowler played on the big stage this summer with Rory and if not for a couple of errors, either could have won a major – and Fowler multiple. To me, Fowler is the horse for the Americans in these matches – a must-play in all 5 games.

    For Friday, if I’m trying to win and combine what I know about metrics and guts, I’m going with:

    Foursomes

    Bradley/Mickelson
    Fowler/Spieth or Mahan
    Walker/Furyk
    Watson/Kuchar

    Four-Ball Format on Friday afternoon – I want Fowler, Mickelson and Watson anchoring a team each. All can make birdies like crazy and that is what I want in this format. I would be making my afternoon pairings based on morning performance. Rotating out the guys who are average and keep in the guys who are hot. Hardly a rocket science idea.

    Possible Pairings:

    Fowler/Reed
    Watson/Mahan or Spieth depending on how the morning went
    Mickelson/Bradley or Simpson
    Walker/Johnson

    One of the real wildcards in these matches will be Tom Watson. He has become even more stubborn with age and I am not confident in his ability to make adjustments on the fly. We’ll see how it plays out, but I sort of like the idea of being underdog – could play out well.

    • Greg Palmer

      Sep 29, 2014 at 9:59 am

      Just looking back, the US Team faced a huge uphill battle to win these matches, but the Captain did not do them any favors. Past Captains felt that Mickelson’s comments were out of line, but he is probably mostly right about what he said.

      Watson did not make sound adjustments either day during the afternoon matches. The hottest team on the entire golf course dispatched their European opponents in 14 holes in the morning on Friday, and at ages 21 and 25, sat the afternoon. This was a very strong indicator that Watson was completely out of touch.

      And then to sit Mickelson for the entire day on Saturday made no sense after he played twice and went 1-1 on Friday.

      The coach never put these guys into position to win. Not that they could have anyway, but he did not nothing to help the cause.

      Finally, Bubba Watson showed once again why he can’t be relied on in these matches.

  3. Todd Barnes

    Sep 24, 2014 at 2:19 am

    Or a Zach Johnson/ Kuchar pairing instead of Fowler from a statistical view but Rickys swing changes seem to have taken hold and his numbers the last couple of months off the tee are much better than at the start of the season. Thanks Rich.

    • Richie Hunt

      Sep 24, 2014 at 11:11 am

      Fowler hasn’t had many issues off the tee this year to begin with. What was plaguing him was his putting was atrocious early on (worst on Tour in Strokes Gained – Putting). He then turned it around.

      I don’t think he is a bad player for the 4-some format. But, he doesn’t hit a lot of fairways, he’s only decent from 175-225 yards and is below average on shots from the rough. So, you will need to pair him with a partner that hits a lot of fairways, hits it well from the rough and has a really good short game in case Fowler misses from 175-225 yards.

      If you look at the history of the event, you’re better off trying to get as many golfers out playing on Friday as possible. My pairings have all but 1 player playing the first day (Webb Simpson). That way you’re not burning out players, the players are not coming off the bench cold and Tom Watson can get a better feel for who is playing well and who is not and then plan accordingly for Saturday.

      • Todd Barnes

        Sep 24, 2014 at 12:55 pm

        That makes sense Rich, I’m just terrified of which Phil will show up for a foursomes match day 1. Hopefully Bradley/Mickelson will pick up where they left off from Medinah. What if you did a Bradley/ Mahan foursome and a Mickelson/ Watson fourball for day 1 and left the rest of your pairings alone?

  4. truth

    Sep 23, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    fowler needs to play in every match everyday for usa to have a chance. None of the people you have playing twice on friday should be unless you want usa to be in a big hole after the first day

    • Richie Hunt

      Sep 24, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Difficult to not have several golfers playing in both matches on Friday because of how the Ryder Cup is set up. And if you look at the history of the Ryder Cup, usually the team that stockpiles their players on Friday, falter on Saturday and Sunday. It burns out those players that played and the apparently the players that have to play end up ‘coming off the bench’ cold.

      Not sure why Fowler has to play every match. It’s very arguable that he is even the best player on the team. And he has had a less than stellar Ryder Cup record.

  5. Philip

    Sep 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Very interesting, I like how you lined up the stats. Of course, the final deciding factor would be whether they gel with each other, but the stats are definitely a good start.

    What was the thing about age as a weakness for only Zach and Jim?

  6. ally smith

    Sep 23, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Great read, Hope the boys do well and put a good show. Either way i know i’ll enjoy this week end. Great writing Rich, always appreciate your work.

    Cheers !!!

  7. TR1PTIK

    Sep 23, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Interesting that you list “age” as a weakness for Jim Furyk and Zach Johnson, but not Phil Mickleson. Nor do you list age as a strength for any of the younger players – not sure what age has to do with anything anyway. I stopped reading as soon as I got to that point. Maybe you can find something else to write about like knitting or something.

    • Richie Hunt

      Sep 23, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Mickelson and age was a simple oversight when I looked at weaknesses. But, I fully believe that is an issue since he dropped out of 4-some match on Saturday at Medinah and has had some injury issues this season.

      As far as it being a ‘strength’ for younger players, I just don’t think that youth can actually be a strength. It’s a nice benefit if the player starts out on fire because you can use them for the rest of the event. But, if they are playing lousy…youth is not going to change that.

      • TR1PTIK

        Sep 24, 2014 at 6:19 am

        I get what you’re saying, but still don’t see what age has to do with anything. Mickleson has a well-known arthritic condition, and Matt Kuchar has had issues with his back this season. Furyk and Johnson? Nothing that I’ve heard of this season. I guess you could argue that they could fatigue faster or something, but then again, the world no. 1 Rory McIlroy used fatigue to brush off his poor play in the playoffs. Bottom line, age isn’t a good reason to discredit someone when you’re talking golf. All of this coming from a 27 year old by the way…

  8. Mark Davis

    Sep 23, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks so much for this excellent breakdown going into the Cup. No doubt many will argue but it’s great to read an analysis from which we can start our own pondering… especially if, like me, you’re weak on stats and ares going with much more informal evaluations of the players.

    It’s Ryder Cup. Anybody can rise, anybody can fall, anything can happen.

  9. John

    Sep 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    C’mon… We wanna win this damn thing. Here we go:

    Foursomes

    Bradley/Mickelson
    Speith/Fowler
    Mahan/Furyk
    Watson/Simpson

    Fourball

    Bradley/Mickelson
    Watson/Mahan
    Fowler/Johnson
    Speith/Simpson

    Now I’ll accept a rebuttal…

    • Richie Hunt

      Sep 23, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      One of the issues is that you only have 10 different players on day 1. We have to be leery of burning out our players and having them get ‘cold’ by having to wait until Saturday to play. Reed is a good example because he is not suited for the 4-some format. So if he doesn’t play on Friday, he’ll have to wait until Saturday afternoon to finally play. I only left out 1 player (Simpson), but he was a captain’s pick and has the experience to wait a little. And I can use him in the 4-some format if necessary.

      Mickelson and Bradley in the 4-ball format I’m a bit averse to because Keegan hasn’t played the par-5’s well this year and Mickelson has been decent. I would rather go with what I feel are stronger pairings and also give Phil some rest for the 4-some format with Keegan for Saturday if possible.

      I don’t think your pairings are bad by any means and if Watson were to go that route I think it’s not a bad job of pairing players, but I do think there are some better teams out there statistically that go beyond the ‘big names.’ I am also curious on how well Reed performs because I could see him getting out on Friday and dominating and then we can ride him on Saturday.

      • Todd Barnes

        Sep 24, 2014 at 1:24 am

        Hey Rich, love your moneyball approach as I believe that the USA won’t win until they start getting the RIGHT players, not the best players. 1980 USA hockey should be a lesson but the USA hasn’t seemed to learn it yet. Anyways, my question is why did you put Mickelsons/ Bradley in fours some? Mickelson and Bradley are both so streaky off the tee but can make tons of birdies in the four ball matches which you didn’t put them in so I am wondering why. Also I would put Kuchar/Fowler in foursomes because they both drive and putt really well, and move Mickelson/ Bradley to fourbball to light up Europe. Now I would like to know why my idea is bad. Thanks again love your articles.

        • Todd Barnes

          Sep 24, 2014 at 2:25 am

          Or a Zach Johnson/ Kuchar pairing for foursomes instead of Fowler/Kuchar but from a statistical view but Rickys swing changes seem to have taken hold and his numbers the last couple of months off the tee are much better than at the start of the season. Thanks Rich.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Consistent setup is key to success

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In follow up to last week’s post, Top 4 reasons golfers don’t improve, I want to dive into what I believe to be the most common problem affecting mid- to high-handicap players. This is a big topic that will help nearly every golfer, regardless of your skill level, so it’s going to take two articles to cover it.

Here’s part 1.

We all tend to play golf in a constant cycle of swing-and-correction, swing-and-correction, but my observation is that most of the time our bad swings are caused by improper, or inconsistent setup.

I’m a firm believer that once you have played golf for a while, you have probably developed the ability to have a reasonably repeating and effective swing path and method. Even though it might not be textbook, it’s yours and has your fingerprints all over it. And the fact that you occasionally strike really good shots proves that your swing has the capability of producing results that are gratifying.

I certainly don’t suggest you shouldn’t work to improve your swing technique – the better the mechanics, the better and more consistent the results you are going to get. But my point is that your swing has produced good shots before, and it can do so more often if you just “fix” one thing – your starting position.

The single issue that troubles golfers of all skill levels, from tour player to 100-shooter, is the ability to be consistent. And I’m a firm believer that many – if not most – bad shots are the result of a bad starting position. Think of it this way: no matter how good your swing might be, if you start each shot with the ball in a different position in relation to your body core’s rotation axis, you simply cannot get the clubhead back on the ball consistently.

The ball is 1.68” in diameter, and the effective striking surface of an iron or fairway wood is only an inch or so across. That puts pretty tight demands on your ability to get the club behind your head and back on the ball with consistency.

Let’s compare golf to a baseball hitter. He’s standing in the box and the pitch can be anywhere in the strike zone. He’s got to have good technique, but is heavily reliant on his eye/hand coordination to get the bat on the ball. Darn difficult task, which is why the very best hitters only average .350 or so, shank off lots of fouls and completely whiff the ball at least 20% of the time! If you translated that to golf, no one would ever break 150!

The single thing that makes this game remotely playable . . . is that we get to start with the ball in the exact spot where we want it – every time.

I have a friend in the custom club business that did some research measuring the setup consistency of hundreds of golfers of all skill levels. What he found is simple, but revealing. His methodology was to have golfers address and hit a series of 6-iron shots, stepping away and taking a fresh setup for each one. He found that good players with low single-digit handicaps showed the ability to put themselves in almost the exact same position in relation to the ball every time. Measuring from the back of their heels to the ball showed an average deviation from shot to shot of less than 1/4 inch.

But he saw that the higher the handicap, the more shot-to-shot error in setup consistency the golfer exhibited – 20-plus handicap golfers exhibited an average shot-to-shot deviation in distance from the ball of up to two inches or even more! That’s the entire width of the clubhead! It’s a wonder they ever hit it at all!

This variance is a major reason why we can get “in the groove” on the practice range, but have difficulty taking it to the course.

So, think about that for a few days, and next week, I will share how you can quickly build a solid and repeating setup, so that you can give yourself the best chances of hitting good shots more often.

If there is any true “secret” to improving your ball-striking, shotmaking, and scoring, this is certainly it.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: High octane ball compression and artistic touch around the greens

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Host Michael Williams talks with the co-host of the Golf Channel’s Golf Today about the Open Championship and Collin Morikawa’s place in the history books.

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