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Use statistics to improve your practice and achieve your golf goals

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Ben Larsen is a contributor to GolfWRX, and Strategic Content Manager at Arccos Golf, the game’s first fully-automatic performance-tracking system.

Game. Improvement.

Those are perhaps the two most important words in the game of golf. If you’re not trying to improve, you’re just not trying. While there is undoubtedly a percentage of golfers who are “happy” with the levels they’re playing at, a large majority of golfers are endlessly working on their games.

From early-morning hours on the practice tee to weekly lessons with a PGA Professional (and the countless time spent off the course obsessing about all things golf), game improvement for you, me and tour pros never ends.

[quote_box_center]”Every week, we’re all trying to get better,” said Billy Horschel, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour and reigning FedExCup champion. “There is always something to work on, fix, tweak or improve on. With the amount of time we spend on our games, it’s important also to be working on the right parts of our games.”[/quote_box_center]

Clearly, the name of the game is improvement. But what are golfers to improve on? Better yet, what facets of their game should they be focusing on?

Arccos-TA-4

Do you really need a 4 iron? Arccos tracks your usage, average distances, and longest distances with each club.

It first begins with tracking. To assess your golf game, you should be tracking it. Whether it’s with an app, product, spreadsheet or pen and paper, documenting your game and generating data is the first step in the right direction.

[quote_box_center]

“For Tour pros, the competition is so good each and every week that we’re looking for an edge, however small it might be,” Horschel said. “That may mean identifying a trend that is leading to poor performance in your game, then focusing your practice time on fixing it.

“This can quite literally be the difference between recording a top finish or heading home for the weekend. It could even be the key to winning a tournament.”

[/quote_box_center]

The thing is, there is so much room for error in golf. With so many ways to improve, it can also be hard pinpointing what you should be working on. With that, we at Arccos break down the key stats and insights by category — across the five key facets of the game — you can generate from tracking your stats to make it easy for you to identify the areas most in need of improvement.

Driving

Arccos-TA-3

He might think he’s struggling with his driving (8.6 handicap), but the real key to improvement for this golfer is better putting (17.3 handicap).

Average driving distance, longest drive and standard deviation are all quantifiable stats that help you understand the consistency of your swings off the tee. Tracking your drives can also provide percentages on fairways hit and missed, along with whether you tend to miss left or right.

Approach

Arccos-TA-2

When this golfer misses the green, he tends to miss it to the left.

The most popular stat in the approach game is certainly greens in regulation. Surely, improving GIR will lead to more birdie opportunities, thus likely lowering your score. That said, it’s important to dive even deeper into your approach play. For instance, tracking your performance allows you to generate statistics like distance to pin on greens hit, distance to pin on all approaches, misses left and right and misses short or long. For those of us short on the majority of missed greens, improving GIR and your game may be as simple as choosing the right club. Tracking stats and identifying trends will help you do that.

Chipping

Arccos-TA-1

Are your chip shots as close to the hole as they should be for your handicap?

Ask any tour pro and they’ll agree. Around the greens is where the money is made — and lost. When tracking your short game, focus on your chip-and-down percentage, which quantifies how often you need only one putt to finish a hole after a chip. Another key stat to help dial in your short game practice is average distance to pin on chips. For instance, if your putting is suffering, it may not be your putting stroke. You may need to work on getting the ball closer to the hole when off the green.

Sand

Like chipping, sand play is incredibly important when trying to save par or limit a blowup hole. Similarly, sand-and-down and average distance to the pin on sand shots can really help unlock some understanding of your play from the bunkers.

Putting

Understanding your putting performance is perhaps the most important piece to game improvement. So many shots are lost or gained, rounds made or broken, with the putter. To dial into your putting performance, monitor putts per hole, putts after GIR and your percentage of one-putts. That will help identify if your putting woes are caused by a poor stroke, not giving yourself a chance to make putts or a combination of the two.

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Ben Larsen serves as Strategic Content Manager at Arccos Golf. Prior to joining Team Arccos, Ben spent more than a decade in the sports media as a writer, editor, columnist and managing editor, including stints at ESPN, AmateurGolf.com and Back9Network. Having been bitten by the golf bug nearly 20 years ago, Ben takes great pride in honing his daughter's swing, saving par and never, under any circumstances laying up.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Hawk

    Aug 14, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I’d be very interested in this if it didn’t require the sensors. I currently use game golf app because it is completely free, and it tracks my clubs for free. I don’t need the sensors at all. I have built into my pre-shot routine to pull out my phone check yardage and track the club I’m about to use. It helps a ton. However; the stats are limited, and I can’t add players I’m playing with.
    The in depth stats this system provides is awesome, but at that cost it isn’t worth it to me, when I can do the same thing for free. Is Accros planing on providing this feature as game golf has?

    • Jayme Johnson

      Aug 25, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Hi Hawk,

      I’m working with a company building a sensor-based swing analyzer product but approaching it differently. Your input on sensor-based products could be very valuable. Would you be willing to chat for 15 minutes?

      If so, please email me or plug in a time we can speak here: https://calendly.com/jayme-1/customer-interview.

      Thanks for your help!

  2. Sam T.

    Jul 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Interesting read on the value of stats, I’d imagine they must have paid big bucks to get this infomercial going about aRccos too.

    I’ve tested out Arccos but returned it because yes the sensors are way to bulky and get scraped up very easily. I checked their website then too and it costs $50 per sensor to be replaced… give me a break! I don’t like having my phone on the course so i went the the Game Golf system. Love it, easy to use, tapping the sensors comes second nature after 2/3 rounds and it has actually helped my pre shot routine for focus and consistency. Stats though are great, to be able to see where I am falling short is remarkably useful. An extra 2 hours a week on the putting green has shaved 3 strokes off my handicap already.

    Stats rock but there are definitely better options out there then this. It’s just too over priced and they talk a big game but don’t deliver. I would take a look at golf tags too if you’re android but game golf seems to be leading the charge in this category and have a free app.

    • Jayme Johnson

      Aug 25, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Hi Sam,

      Great comments here. Would you be willing to speak with me 15 minutes to talk more about your experience with this product and other stat-apps aimed at improving your golf game? Im working with a company developing a new swing training product and your feedback could be very valuable. If interested, please message me back or select a time slot for us to speak here: https://calendly.com/jayme-1/customer-interview.

      Thanks so much, Jayme

  3. Mark

    Jul 23, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I’ve been using the system since January. It’s not perfect, but is still a great product. You can edit shots on the fly after a hole, or wait until after the round. If you’re playing with wind or weather, you can see how you’ve been hitting your clubs so far that day and make adjustments whether they are going longer/shorter than normal. The sensors are bigger than I would prefer, but it is what it is, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I honestly forget them as soon as I take my grip and the weight of them isn’t noticeable. When I have had an issue, I have emailed the company and gotten a real human response very quickly. You can tell they really get how important customer service is in this industry. Overall I would highly recommend picking it up. If you have Android, this is further evidence that you are failing at life. So throw your Droid in the trash, buy an iPhone, then go buy Arccos.

  4. JP K

    Jul 22, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Is the data editable? The problem with the Motorola watch was any recording errors ruined your stats and you couldn’t edit it.

    • Adam

      Jul 23, 2015 at 7:53 am

      it’s very easily editable after the round. I open the app while looking at the online overview of each hole so I can see a bigger picture of the details to make accurate changes.

  5. Steve

    Jul 22, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Infomercial, hope WRX got paid for this

  6. Adam

    Jul 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    I have been using these all season and don’t notice any weight difference. In fact I always forget they are even there.
    Also I should add that this product is amazing and the knowledge I have gained about my club distances and accuracy have made me way more accurate with club selection. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I was hitting great shots on perfect lines that were wasted by having the wrong club in my hand. It made me think that my ball striking was lacking when it was really club selection.
    I was a 14.1 Handicap after last season, and I’ve brought my handicap down to 11.8 in my 13 rounds this year (plus the last 7 from last year to make up my most recent 20). My handicap from rounds this season alone is 10, so in another month or two I should have the handicap right around high single digits…
    I learned about my consistency hitting greens with mid-long irons which gave me confidence to keep the driver in the bag and lay up on tee shots a lot more often which has saved me about 2-3 penalty strokes per round. I noticed that my chipping HCP was terrible and it was really impacting my putting stats so I focused practice around my short game and it’s a huge difference.

    Highly recommend using any means available to stat track your game if you really want tangible, long lasting improvement. I was discussing my golf game with a buddy recently and the question came up “What is your goal in golf?’ He said he wanted to break 80, and I said I wanted to break 80 every round….

    • Adam

      Aug 12, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Just another update…
      Now after 18 rounds this season that Index is down to 10.5 from 14.1
      Arccos is easily the biggest factor in making my practice and on course approaches more effective.

  7. Busineus

    Jul 22, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    When are you going to have an Android version?

    • Darren Tan

      Jul 23, 2015 at 1:19 am

      Second that. Wanted to buy but no android version after so long.

  8. Dave S

    Jul 22, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Wish they weren’t so big (by that I mean tall). I’m sure there’s no noticable swing weight difference, but mentally, I’d feel like i was choking up on every club, which would mess with my head. Ideally, these sensors would be more like GameGolf’s, but I know they’re bigger bc there’s more built-in tech (not having to tap something attached to your belt before each shot is worth the larger size). Hopefully technological advances will lead to smaller sensors in the future, because I really want this product.

  9. Ron Burgundy

    Jul 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    How much do these weigh on your clubs? How many swing weights does it change each club?

    • Ben Larsen

      Jul 22, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      Hi Ron: Each sensor weighs less than 12 grams and has no noticeable swing weight impact.

      • Ben M.

        Jul 23, 2015 at 1:49 pm

        Ben, THAT’S NOT FAIR. 12 Grams adds more than 2 Club Weights. Be honest man, we’re not stupid!!!

      • Scott

        Jul 23, 2015 at 4:04 pm

        How can it not? Maybe you are just not that perceptive when it comes to swing weight, which is OK, because a lot of players aren’t

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie Reviews: L.A.B. Mezz.1 Max Putter

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L.A.B. Golf pushes the limits of putters and putting to try and help as many golfers as they can make more putts. Lie Angle Balanced putters are different because the face of the putter is always pointed towards your target. We all know L.A.B.’s famous Directed Force 2.1 putter. However, a lot of golfers didn’t like the looks and size of it. So L.A.B. developed the Mezz.1 putter that has a more traditional mallet look that so many golfers use, but with Lie Angle Balanced technology engineered into it. This year, the Mezz.1 Max putter was introduced to make a great putter even better. The Mezz.1 Max is 20-percent larger than the original Mezz.1 and offers more forgiveness and stability.

I have played the Mezz.1 this year and think it is a great putter, so to be honest, I wasn’t that excited to try the Mezz.1 Max at first. That changed pretty quickly once my putter showed up. To start, getting fit for a putter is one of the last things we golfers think about. L.A.B. has a very unique and effective remote fitting process if you cannot get to a fitter in person. You email a short video to them using your current putter and they use their internal genius to get your specs processed. The remote fitting video took me about seven minutes from start to submission.

Once you have your putter specs, you can then order a stock or custom Mezz.1 Max. I went down the custom path of various head colors, alignment aids, shafts, grips, and even a headcover to build my putter. My original Mezz.1 is black, and I wanted to go with some color to change things up and, for whatever reason, the cappuccino color kept grabbing my attention. The cappuccino color online looks more gold, and I was pleasantly surprised that in person the color is more brown and muted than I expected. The color goes well with the matte white Accra shaft and Press II 1.5-degree smooth grip.

Headcovers are now becoming big accessories, and the brown headcover I chose is kind of retro-looking while feeling high quality. Overall, I love the look and my Mezz.1 Max stands out without being too flashy and distracting.

As soon as I got the putter out of the box, I rolled a few putts on the carpet here at the office, not expecting much difference. From the first couple of putts, I could immediately tell something was a little different with this putter. The weight and balance through the stroke is more stable and you get an even better feeling of the putter wanting to keep the face pointed at the target. The other interesting find is that I didn’t even notice the 20-percent larger size that the Mezz.1 Max has over its older sibling. Maybe if I had them both side-by-side I would notice the size difference more, but the Mezz.1 Max on its own looks normal to my eye.

The first putts I hit on the carpet were great feeling and the Mezz.1 Max felt like it wanted to stay on its path regardless of how your hands tried to manipulate it. The same feeling was present on the putting green, and it was far stronger to me than the standard Mezz.1 felt. When you put the Mezz.1 Max on a target, the putter just wants to hit the ball at that target. The other interesting note is that, to me, the new Max has a softer and more solid feel compared to the smaller head. The sound at impact was more muted and had a lower pitch to it, even on mishits. Just like the original, the grooved face puts immediate forward roll on the ball and reduces almost all skipping.

L.A.B. says this Mezz.1 Max is 20-percent more stable, and I don’t think that is just some marketing talk. I have been in this putting funk where I have been making contact on the toe of the putter regularly. This miss has caused me to miss more than a few putts this year, and I hit a few with the new putter as well. Those toe misses still went straight and I wasn’t losing much speed. Those putts left the toe of the putter and either came up just short or just missed my intended line by a small amount. Those misses are a great improvement over the traditional blade that has been my gamer all summer. The biggest problem I had with the original Mezz.1 is that it took me awhile to get used to longer lag putts. This wasn’t the case with the Max, as I felt much more comfortable from long range and was able to get putts closer and reduce the 3-putt chances by a good amount.

Overall, if you’re searching for a new flatstick, the new L.A.B. Golf Mezz.1 Max putter is something to check out. You have a putter that can truly help you make more putts thanks to the Lie Angle Balanced technology, additional forgiveness, and stability.

For more information on my Mezz.1 Max putter review, listen to the Club Junkie podcast, which is available below and on any podcasting service.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: A Tale of Two Misses

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It seems like I somewhat “touched a nerve” with last week’s post ‘A Defense of Blades’, based on the scoring you all gave my take on that controversial topic.

I do appreciate it when you take the time to score your reaction to my work, as it keeps me tuned in to what you really want me to pontificate about. Before I get into today’s topic, I request that any of you who have a subject you’d like me to address please drop me an email at [email protected]dgeGuy.com, OK?

So, in somewhat of a follow-up to last week, let’s talk today about misses. Those too frequent shots that move your scores in the wrong direction.

Early in my life, I was always part of “the group” of low-handicap players who had various kinds of “money games”, but that put me in touch only with other low-handicap players who were highly competitive. Just as I was getting fully engaged in the golf equipment industry in the early 1980s, I was blessed to be a part of a group at my club called “The Grinders”. We had standing tee times every day…so if you could get away, you played. There were about 35-40 of us who might show up, with as many as 6-7 groups going off on Fridays and Saturdays.

These guys sported handicaps from scratch to 20, and we threw up balls to see how we were paired, so for twenty years, I had up close and personal observation of a variety of “lab rats.”

This let me observe and study how many different ways there were to approach the game and how many different kinds of mishits could happen in a round of golf. As a golf industry marketer and club designer, I couldn’t have planned it any better.

So back to a continuation of the topic of last week, the type of irons you choose to play should reflect the kinds of misses you are hoping to help. And the cold, hard truth is this:

We as golf club designers, engineers and fitters, can only do so much to help the outcome of any given shot.

Generally, mishits will fall into two categories – the “swing miss” and the “impact miss”.

Let’s start with the former, as it is a vast category of possibilities.

The “swing miss” occurs when the swing you made never had a chance of producing the golf shot you had hoped to see. The clubhead was not on a good path through impact, and/or the clubface was not at all square to the target line. This can produce any number of outcomes that are wildly wrong, such as a cold skull of the ball, laying the sod over it, hard block to the right (for a right-hand player), smother hook…I think you get the point.

The smaller swing misses might be a draw that turns over a bit too much because you rotated through impact a bit aggressively or a planned draw that doesn’t turn over at all because you didn’t. Or it could be the shot that flies a bit too high because you released the club a bit early…or much too low because you had your hands excessively ahead of the clubhead through impact.

The swing miss could be simply that you made a pretty darn good swing, but your alignment was not good, or the ball position was a bit too far forward in your swing…or too far back. Basically, the possible variations of a “swing miss” are practically endless and affect tour pros and recreational golfers alike.

The cruel fact is that most recreational golfers do not have solid enough swing mechanics or playing disciplines to deliver the clubhead to the ball in a consistent manner. It starts with a fundamentally sound hold on the club. From there, the only solution is to make a commitment to learn more about the golf swing and your golf swing and embark on a journey to become a more consistent striker of the golf ball. I would suggest that this is one of the most fascinating aspects of the game and encourage anyone who loves golf to go down this path.

But today’s post is about “mishits”, so let’s move on the other and much smaller category of misses…the “impact miss”. As a 40-year golf club designer, this is the world in which I function and, unfortunately, to which I am limited.

The “impact miss” is when most of the elements of the swing pretty much fall into place, so that the club is delivered pretty accurately to the ball…on the right path…face square to the target line at impact…but you miss the sweet spot of the club by just a bit.

Finding ways of getting better results out of those mishits is the singular goal of the entire golf club industry.

Big drivers of today are so much more forgiving of a 1/8 to ½ inch miss than even drivers of a decade ago, it’s crazy. Center strikes are better, of course, with our fast faces and Star Wars technology, but the biggest value of these big drivers is that your mishits fly much more like a perfect hit than ever before. In my own launch monitor testing of my current model driver to an old Reid Lockhart persimmon driver of the mid-1990s, I see that dead center hits are 20-25 yards different, but mishits can be as far as 75-80 yards apart, the advantage obviously going to the modern driver.

The difference is not nearly as striking with game improvement irons versus a pure forged one-piece blade. If the lofts and other specs are the same, the distance a pure strike travels is only a few yards more with the game improvement design, but a slight mishit can see that differential increase to 12-15 yards. But, as I noted in last week’s article, this difference tends to reduce as the lofts increase. Blades and GI irons are much less different in the 8- and 9-irons than in the lower lofts.

This has gotten a bit longer than usual, so how about I wrap up this topic next week with “A Tale of Two Misses – Part 2”? I promise to share some robotic testing insights that might surprise you.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: World Long Drive! Go Mu!

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In this week’s podcast we discuss Wisdom In Golf Premium, new ways to help and fun talk about rules and etiquette.

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