In recent years, we have known Brooks Koepka as the MAJOR KILLER. While he certainly has made the clutch putts needed to finish off the big ones, he has clearly done most of the damage with his prodigious, straight drives and accurate approach shots.
In 2018 and 2019 to date, Brooks is ranked 19th and ninth respectively in strokes gained: tee-to-green. At the same time, in strokes gained: putting, he was ranked 68th in 2018, but going into the last event of the season (The Tour Championship) was ranked 128th. Before his putting performance last week at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Brooks was ranked 101st in strokes gained: putting—barely better than the Tour average.
Brooks’ putting performance this past week overshadowed his long game by far and was one of the best that I have seen in a Tour Winner—EVER. His strokes gained: tee-to-green was very good: 1.168, ranked sixth, and good enough to bump him from 11th on Tour to ninth for the season. His strokes gained putting was 2.336, ranked first, and good enough to bump him from 101 to 55 for the 2018-19 season.
My point being, if this was more than a hot week but a genuine sign of improvement, LOOK OUT, field! You are all fighting for second!
How good was Brooks’ putting?
He had two three-putts—from 51 and 66 feet. Understandable from long range, these are barely miscues and certainly not what I would consider errors. Further, they would have a very minor negative impact on his strokes gained number. Why? Because the 2.0 range for the PGA Tour is about 34 feet, meaning that a two-putt from that distance would produce a 0.0 strokes gained and a three-putt from that distance would carry a -1.0 strokes gained. Accordingly, Brooks’ long-range three-putts would result in -.70 SG each, or less. (If you need more on strokes gained and the calculations, visit ShotByShot.com and watch my short video on strokes gained Explained under Help & Downloads on our HOME page)
It was Brooks’ outstanding one-putt success that set him apart this week. The chart below compares Brooks to the performance of the FedEx St. Jude FIELD; and for perspective, the second chart includes the average one-putt percentages for the average male golfers (15-19 handicap).
For a complete Strokes Gained analysis of your game and to see exactly how your putting compares, log on to: www.shotbyshot.com
The Wedge Guy: The Red Zone
For those of you who are big football fans, we are lost in the off-season, waiting a few more months before we get to watch our favorite pro or college teams duke it out on the gridiron. Living in Texas, of course, football is a very big deal, from the NFL Cowboys and Texans, through our broad college network representing multiple conferences and into the bedrock of Friday nights – high school football, which drives fans and entire towns into a frenzy.
In almost every football conversation on TV, you hear talk about “the red zone”. How a team performs inside the 20-yard line is a real measure of their offensive prowess, and usually a pretty good indicator of their win/loss record, too. It breaks down to what percentage of the time a team scores a touchdown or field goal, and how often they come away empty.
I like to think we golfers have our own “red zone”. It’s that distance from the green where we should be able to go on the offensive and think about pars and birdies, ensure no worse than bogey . . . and rarely put a double or worse on the card. Your own particular set of red zone goals should be based on your handicap. If you are a low single digit, this is your “go zone”, where you feel like you can take it right at the flag and give yourself a decent birdie putt, with bogeys being an unpleasant surprise. For mid-handicap players, it’s where you should feel confident you’ll guarantee a par and rarely make bogey, and for higher handicap players, it’s where you will ensure a bogey at least, give yourself a good chance at par, and maybe even a birdie.
But regardless of your handicap, your own “red zone” should begin when you can put a high loft club in your hands – one with over 40 degrees of loft. Of course, that has changed a lot with the continual strengthening of irons. In my early days that was an eight iron, then it migrated to a nine. But regardless of your handicap or the make and model of irons you play, my contention is that golf is relatively “defensive” with all the other clubs in your bag. With those lower lofted irons, your goal should be to just keep it out of trouble and moving closer to the goal line . . . er, the flag. Even the PGA Tour pros make a very small percentage of their birdies with their middle irons.
When you can put a high loft club in your bag – whether that’s from 150 yards or 105 – that’s when you should feel like you can put your offense into high gear and raise your expectations. It’s no longer about power, because this isn’t about raw distance, but rather distance control and precision. From the red zone, it’s about trusting your technique and your equipment and taking it to the golf course a little bit.
As most of us are in the early stages of the 2021 golf season, one of the best things you can do for your golf improvement is to begin tracking your “red zone” performance. Put the numbers down as to how you are scoring the golf course from your 9-iron range on into the flag. My guess is that you’ll see this is where you can make the most improvement if you’ll give that part of your game some additional time and focus. Any golfer can learn to hit crisp and accurate short range approach shots. And so you should.
Pay attention to your own red zone stats, and work to improve them. I guarantee you that you’ll see your scores come down quickly.
Club Junkie: Reviewing Titleist TSi3 drivers and fairways! (Finally!)
The moment you all have been waiting for: I finally have a TSi3 driver and 3-wood in my hands! Talking about how they performed and maybe some shaft changes for each in the future.
GPI: From indoor winter training to “time to play”
Winter fitness development workouts to summer tournaments play exercises for maintenance. The mental and physical.
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