I have been studying the game of golf from a statistical standpoint for 27 years. In 1992, I launched a new form of analysis that I called Strokes Lost and Saved, now known as Strokes Gained. My system was built around encouraging golf instructors and players to move away from the traditional, one-dimensional stats (fairways, GIR’s, sand saves and number of putts) to this much more accurate method. Traditional golf stats can be misleading as they give one-dimensional, yes/no answers to describe a complicated, multi-dimensional game.
The inability of these stats to shed light on performance is what motivated me to create ShotByShot.com, which gives golfers real insight and answers about their strengths and weaknesses with comparative data relevant to their handicap level. It’s a simple, powerful tool, but I’m often pressed for an even simpler solution by golf professionals, who ask:
“What is the most important stat in golf? If I were to get my players to keep ONE stat, what should it be?”
My quick, somewhat sharp-edged, answer to that question is: “If there were such an all-important stat, I would be out of business.” I guess I have mellowed, and can suggest a “starter stat” to provide instructors and golfers something simple that adds value: Have your players track their major ERRORS!
I realized years ago that frequency and severity of errors does more to establish every player’s scoring level than all of the good shots hit. Further, the ability to identify and limit these errors is the most efficient way to improve.
Below, I have defined the most frequent and costly errors in the game, and can provide the average frequency of these errors for the typical 80 and 90 shooters. This data comes from ShotByShot.com’s robust database of more than 250,000 rounds entered and analyzed. See how your game matches up over three to five rounds:
1. Driving errors. There are three types:
- No Shot result: Drive hit out of play requiring an advancement shot to return to normal play.
- Penalty-1 result: Hazard for unplayable lie.
- OB/Lost result: Lost or out of bounds.
2. Short Game errors: Chip/pitch and sand shots (separately) from all positions within 50 yards of the hole that MISS the green.
3. Three-Putts: From within 20 feet of the hole or less.
In your next few rounds, track these four errors on four lines of a separate scorecard. For driving errors and 3-putts (within 20 feet), simply mark the holes where these mistakes occur. For chip/pitch and sand shots, mark the hole where each short game shot is successful (on the green) with a check and those that miss the green with an X. This way you will know the total number of shots in each short game category as well as the relative number of errors.
Compare your results from three to five rounds with the chart below and your major weakness should become clear. Work to mitigate that weakness and you will achieve meaningful improvement. Then repeat the process until you have NO major weakness in your game.
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Best irons of 2021 Part 2, best wedges
Breaking down the rest of the best irons of 2021. One new category that should be interesting to everyone, even those who won’t play them. The best wedges of 2021 are broken down into traditional and game improvement wedges. Brian Knudson and Ryan Barath go through the entire list to give some insight as to why these clubs made the list.
The Wedge Guy: Speed kills (your short game at least)
Todays’ post is much shorter than usual because this topic is extremely simple but very important to a better short game.
IMHO, one of the most overused and abused pieces of golf advice is that which tells us to “accelerate through the ball.” Not that this is a bad thing—all teachers agree that the club should be on a constant acceleration from the start of the downswing to and through impact. But from my observation, the vast majority of golfers are taking the whole bottle of that advice, instead of just one or two pills.
Think of it like this. You pull up to a stoplight next to a little old lady in her 1988 Cadillac. You–being a young guy in your hot car–punch it when the light turns green and leave her in your dust. But she, who gradually pushes the accelerator and takes a full block to get back up to the 30 mph speed limit, also accelerated the entire way. That’s how I see the proper acceleration of the clubhead when you are chipping and pitching.
The short game is precision work, and when you do anything else in your life which requires precision . . . . you tend to work S- -L- -O – -W. The short game should be no different. If you throttle back your entire swing speed . . . slower backswing, slower transition, slower downswing . . . you will find that you can be much more precise in your contact and distance control.
Just a short practice session, even in your backyard, will show you what I mean. Take a few balls and see how slowly you can hit some short chips and pitches. Try to create a tempo that to you is going to feel like a turtle or snail. Slow-motion even. Practice swinging the club slower and slower and watch what happens. Then take that to the practice area at your course.
If you work on slowing down your entire tempo around the greens, you will be much more precise in your technique and results. The bonus comes from the fact that this new slower tempo will likely find its way into the rest of your game and all your shots will begin to get better.
I promise you.
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