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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: How Dustin Johnson dominated the Travelers Championship

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In “Ways to Win,” we track the PGA Tour winner’s rounds using the V1 Game mobile app and then analyze how they got the job done using the same tools available to V1 Game users.

A short golf course by PGA Tour standards, at roughly 6,900 yards, TPC River Highlands seemed like a match made in Heaven for 54-hole Travelers Championship leader Brendon Todd. Todd had not made a bogey since the fourth hole of the tournament and seemed in complete control until Dustin Johnson lit up the short track on Saturday to jump into the final group. Johnson continued that tear into Sunday, taking the solo lead by the ninth hole and holding on through an eventful back nine that included a weather delay for lightning.

Scorecard Heatmap

For the last two weeks, PGA Tour winners have separated themselves with birdies and shot-making down the stretch. However, this weekend was different. Johnson took the lead at the turn and held on to overcome some sketchy ball striking to capture the title. The V1 Game scorecard Heatmap clearly shows Johnson hit poor tee shots on holes 13 and 16 with short game and putting helping him hang on to a single-stroke victory.

Strokes Gained

Dustin Johnson winning a PGA Tour event is not surprising. This was his 21st career victory and he has won at least one tournament each year for the last 13 PGA Tour seasons. However, the way he did it would surprise the casual golf fan who thinks of Dustin Johnson as a prototypical bomber.

Taking a look at Johnson’s round-by-round Strokes Gained performance using the Strokes Gained Stacked plot from V1 Game gives more clarity into how he got it done.

Glancing at the bars in the Strokes Gained Stacked chart, each color represents a different area of Strokes Gained performance (blue – Driving, green – Approach, yellow – Short Game, red – Putting). In round 1, DJ struggled in all areas of the game, gaining just 0.6 strokes on the field. That put him in 79th place and in danger of missing the cut. In Round 2, Johnson put together a well-rounded performance, gaining strokes in all four areas and comfortably making the weekend to set up for a tremendous third round. In Round 3, Johnson blitzed the field and rocketed up the leaderboard—however, he didn’t do it with just his driver—he did it primarily with his iron play and his putter.

He shot a 61 with nine birdies and no bogeys. In his final round 67, Dustin Johnson actually lost almost three strokes off the tee, making up for it in the other three areas, particularly with his new putter. Not exactly the work of your stereotypical bomber. Johnson has a tremendously well-rounded game and it showed this weekend.

Shot-by-Shot

With V1 Game, we can look even deeper to see just how Johnson lost strokes off the tee. The main culprit being the 13th hole, where he piped a driver down the left, rolling out of bounds by just a few inches. Forced to re-tee, this penalty automatically cost him two strokes, as indicated in the shot-by-shot window to the left. V1 Game quantifies the quality of every shot using Strokes Gained data to allow users to see exactly how they performed on every shot. Luckily for DJ, he minimized the damage of a poor tee shot by following it up with a good one and a clutch seven-foot putt to save bogey. Holing that putt relieved a great deal of stress and likely sealed the tournament for Johnson.

Three Keys

The key to playing quality golf and winning tournaments is minimizing mistakes and Johnson did that this week. Looking at V1 Game’s “Three Keys,” Dustin Johnson had one three-putt, one two-chip, and just one penalty for 72 holes. Two of those three errors came in his final six holes, when the tournament was largely out of reach for the majority of the field.

V1 Game identifies problem areas and gives instant performance feedback in the post-round summary. For Johnson, it is clear that he had a “Poor Driving Day,” losing 2.7 strokes.

V1 Game also tells us why. He had two driving errors (hitting a tee shot into a penalty or recovery situation) and he missed to the left 43 percent of the time. This would be an area he would want to closely monitor under pressure situations to see if that trend holds. However, if you’re making 102 feet of putts, you can afford a mistake or two down the stretch.

Much can be learned from seeing how the pros manage the course and get it done from day to day with different parts of their game. As amateurs, the fastest way to improve is to know where you need to work.

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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Opinion & Analysis

A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: March (belatedly)

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Editor’s note: All latency on the publishing here is the fault of the Editor-in-Chief.

As some might say, if you don’t take the plunge, you can’t taste the brine. Others might not say such a thing. I’m taking the plunge, because I want to taste the brine.

Here you’ll find the third installment of “A Golfing Memoir” as we trace a year in the life of Flip Hedgebow, itinerant teacher of golf. For January, click here. For February, click here.

Absolutely. Meet me up north (and, to himself, what have I got to lose?)

No sense in putting the cart before the horse, as the old pro used to say, as cirE “Flip” Hedgebow used to ignore. As March came to a close, as cirE locked the pro shop for the last time until November, he took a leap of faith. How big of a leap? Let’s get through March, and find out.

Speaking of carts and horses, March for Flip always came in like a lamb, and went out like a lion. That ran contrary to the folklore but, all things considered, there was always a 50% chance of things running contrary.

No, the best reason for topsy and turvy in March, for Flip, was explained by his birthday. Being born in the middle of the month might suggest balance to some; for him, it was a constant reminder of the chaos that led up to his earthly arrival, tempered only by the madness that ensued. If that’s balance, you can have it.

In Flip’s world, March was about the arrival of the most seasoned of snowbirds, the ones with more than five years of retirement under their growing-shrinking belts. Some were expanding, as they had given up on fitness; the rest were shrinking, as the truest effects of age caught them up. In each case, this pod arrived with military precision, knowing where and when nearly every penny would be spent. No frivolity remained in their schedules, no ambiguity survived from younger, budgeting days. No longer minnows, they recognized that uncertainty stalked them, and that all of their remaining wits needed to center on a small and precise target. The smaller, the more precise, the better…for the women.

Like all men, the old guys appreciated the consistency and precision their wives brought to their worlds.

Like all men, the old guys detested the ever-encroaching, loss of control over their own destinies.

They would enter the pro shop, grab the latest hat like a modern-day Judge Smails, and set it at a rakish angle, atop their sleek domes. Flip learned quite early on that the only way to ensure the sale was cash. When the wives invariably came to complain and demand a refund, Flip could “only” offer a pro shop credit, guaranteeing that something would be purchased. If they bought it on account or on a card, the sale was irretrievably lost.

Flip expected these purchases from his March gam: the cheapest golf balls, when their supply of northern culls ran out; the attire from last fall, or even the previous summer, ready to be shipped back to the manufacturer when March 20th arrived; and some odd or end that the pro had overlooked, lost to some sort of missionary of time. The only thing stronger than the will of the spouse, was the desire of the old guy to make some sort of purchase, to re-establish some semblance of power and control, for at least a moment.

How did you get your name, and why is the last letter, and not the first, capitalized?

(silence. he rarely heard the first question, as everyone knew him as “Flip;” he never heard the second one, as no one paid attention anymore.)

Two stories are a lot to tell. Let’s save both answers, even if it’s just a little while.

(silence. she wasn’t satisfied)

If the red hair caused his eyes to move from the mundane nature of packing and sealing boxes, everything else physical compelled him to put down the tape gun, sense that his throat was dry, know that he would not clear it without a squeak, turn away for a bottle of water, take a swig for lubrication, and, finally, turn back with his finest Axel Foley smile, and greet her with: How long have you been retired?

It was an incalculable risk. There was a 90% chance that she would react with an I’m not that old sort of affront, turn on her heels, and march out the door. There was a 5% chance that she would get the joke, and would stick around for another exchange, before smiling awkwardly and departing. There remained a 5% chance of something else. On this 21st day of March, that final 5% wafted in.

Wafted in, in the guise of a lesson he thought that he had planned. Planned for one of the wives, a late-sixties model whose swing was frozen in time: the unlikely combination of a forward lurch of the torso, a reverse pivot of the feet, and right in the middle, an impossible heave of the hips in one of four unpredictable directions. If anyone were to discover a fifth cardinal point, it would be Agnes Porter. Until this moment, Flip Hedgebow gave thanks that the world was blessed with just one of her; more than one might have tilted the globe off its axis. Now, he offered up a different type of gratitude, thanks to the visage of her granddaughter, who bore no resemblance to the matriarch, beyond the title of Agnes Porter.

They write that a story may be deemed worthy for its inerrant language, or for its compelling events. The story of Agnes Porter the way-younger and Flip Hedgebow benefitted from both, along with an overdose of peripeteia.

 

Artwork by JaeB

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Srixon ZX and TaylorMade SIM2 Max fairways and My top 3 drivers!

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Masters hangover week is here! I have had the new Srixon ZX fairway out on the course and it is underrated as you would imagine. Reshafted the SIM2 Max 3w and it has been super consistent and comfortable. Talking about the top 3 drivers I have been hitting this year.

 

 

 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between good amateurs and those who are not-so-good—and between the top professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—lies in the consistency of their pre-shot routine. I read an interesting account on this subject after the final round of the 1990 Masters when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Greg Norman. I know that was 30 years ago, but the lesson is just as relevant today.

This particular analyst timed the pre-shot routines of both players during the first three rounds and found that on the final day that Norman got quicker and quicker through his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

Anytime you watch professional golf—or the better players at your club—you’ll see precision and consistency in the way they approach all of their shots. There is a lesson there for all of us—so, here are my ideas of how the pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land, and roll. It is certainly realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches, and putts, as they are all very different challenges. As you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

On any shot, I believe the best starting point is from behind the ball, seeing in your “mind’s eye” the film clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight path it will take, and on greenside shots, just how it will roll out. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and take as many practice swings as it takes to “feel” the swing that will produce that visualized shot path for you.

Your actual pre-shot routine can start when you see that shot clearly and begin your approach the ball to set up. From that “trigger point,” you should work hard to do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. When you are out there “banging balls,” don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot.

So, guys and ladies, there’s my $.02 on the pre shot routine. What do you have to add?

 

 

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