This week, I’m going to wrap up my review of your feedback from the survey we posted a few weeks ago. As I said then, and in my Part 1 wrap-up, the idea was to learn about your feelings and attitudes toward the game, with an attempt to try to determine whether you were more oriented to the “process” or to the “results” from each round of golf, and even from each shot.
In last week’s Part 1 review (which you can read HERE), I reviewed the demographic make-up of the nearly 1,000 of you who completed the survey and began to dive into how you feel about each sub-set of your set of clubs – driving, fairway woods, mid-iron play, short iron play and wedge play. Your answers were enlightening, and probably surprising to many of you.
This week I want to explore a bit more deeply into your answers to the last few questions, as I think you will agree they are quite revealing.
In one question, I presented a short list of different shots, and asked which one you would enjoy the most. Easily the most popular answer was “a pin-seeking mid-iron shot” at 36%, followed 26% who chose “short iron or wedge approach that ends up really close”. What surprised me is that a “long straight drive” barely outscored both “scrambling shot that saves par” and “holing a long putt”, all earning less than 14%. Kudos to all of you for those process-oriented attitudes.
The next two questions revealed what you really think about distance. Your answers were nearly equally divided in the question about whether you would trade some driver distance or more accuracy, with accuracy slightly winning out. But when asked the same about iron shots, almost 75% of you said you would trade distance for accuracy. Maybe the irons makers don’t get this, as they are all still pushing distance as THE thing.
Following was the question about what is most important to your iron play, and it wasn’t even close. “More accuracy” was selected by 80% of you, with “better ability to work the ball” winning 3 to 1 over “more distance”.
Then I asked about what is most important after a round is complete. “Shooting a good score” (results) was exactly tied with “hitting more good quality golf shots” (process). The only other answer to get more than nominal response was “enjoying my playing companions” . . . definitely “process”.
The next to last question asked for the one improvement you would most like to make in your golf game, from a list of eight options. Though all eight got measurable responses, number one at 25% was “eliminate or improve my worst shots”, followed by “hit more greens” at 17.5%. The next two were about scoring – “improve my putting” and “improve my greenside scoring skills”. I promise to share more insights and ideas for both in the weeks ahead. “Improving my wedge and short iron play” tied with “become more of a shotmaker with my irons” and were notable.
Finally, I asked what you admire most about the games of those accomplished players you know personally (not tour players). “Precise play through the bag” was clearly the #1 answer, followed by “their avoidance of really bad shots” and their “scoring skills around the greens.”
I want to thank you all for participating in the survey, and I hope you have enjoyed seeing how your fellow GolfWRX’ers feel about the game of golf and their own games. Your answers have given me tons of topics to address in the coming weeks and months and I hope to help all of you, regardless of what you are looking to improve in your own games in 2021.
We are now in the “12 days of Christmas” so I want to wish you all a joyous season. Be safe and mindful of the blessings we all enjoy because of the true meaning of this precious time of year. I’ll wrap up this year’s columns next week with some Christmas wishes for all of us.
After all, we play this game for many reasons, but all of us want to leave the course fulfilled and with a heart full of pleasure. My guess is that those of you who get more out of the process than the results are the ones getting the most out of the game.
Years ago, I coined a phrase that “golf is not a game of numerical gratification,” meaning that your score is rarely going to be all that satisfying. If you understand that the handicap system reflects your best ability, not your average, you also realize that playing a round to your handicap is a rare thing indeed.
I encourage all of you who might focus on results too much to seek to find pleasure in the process and relish each and every shot that flies true.
The Wedge Guy: What you CAN learn from tour pros
I have frequently noted how the game the PGA Tour players play is, in most ways, a whole different game than we “mere mortal” recreational golfers play. They hit their drivers miles it seems. Their short games are borderline miraculous. And they get to play from perfect bunkers and putt on perfect greens every single week. And it lets them beat most courses into submission with scores of 20-plus under par.
The rest of us do not have their strength, of course, nor do we have the time to develop short game skills even close to theirs. And our greens are not the perfect surfaces they enjoy, nor do we have caddies, green-reading books, etc. So, we battle mightily to shoot our best scores, whether that be in the 70s, 90s, or higher.
There is no question that most PGA Tour players are high-level athletes, who train daily for both body strength and flexibility, as well as the specific skills to make a golf ball do what they intend it to. But even with all that, it is amazing how bad they can hit it sometimes and how mediocre (for them) the majority of their shots really are — or at least they were this week.
Watching the Wells Fargo event this weekend, you could really see how their games are – relatively speaking – very much like ours on a week-to-week basis.
What really stood out for me as I watched some of this event was so few shots that were awe-inspiring and so many that were really terrible. Rory even put his win in jeopardy with a horrible drive on the 18th, but a very smart decision and a functional recovery saved him. (The advantage of being able to muscle an 8-iron 195 yards out of deep rough and a tough lie is not to be slighted).
Of course, every one of these guys knocks the flag down with approach shots occasionally, if not frequently, but on a longer and tougher golf course, relative mediocrity was good enough to win.
If we can set these guys’ power differences aside, I think we all can learn from watching and seeing that even these players hit “big uglies” with amazing frequency. And that the “meat” of their tee-to-green games is keeping it in play when they face the occasional really tough golf course like Quail Hollow. Do you realize less than 20 of the best players in the world beat par for those 72 holes?
It has long been said that golf is a game of misses, and the player who “misses best” is likely to be “in the hunt” more often than not, and will win his or her share. That old idiom is as true for those of us trying to break 100 or 90 or 80 as it is for the guys trying to win on the PGA Tour each week.
Our “big numbers” happen for the same reasons as theirs do – a simply terrible shot or two at the wrong time. But because we do not have anywhere near their short game and recovery skills, we just do not “get away with” our big misses as frequently as they do.
So, what can you take away from that observation? I suggest this.
Play within your own reliable strength profile and skill set. Play for your average or typical shot, not your very best, whether that is a drive, approach shot, or short game recovery. And don’t expect a great shot to follow a bad one.
If, no, when you hit the “big miss,” accept that this hole can get away from you and turn into a double or worse, regroup, and stop the bleeding, so you can go on to the next hole.
We can be pretty darn sure Rory McIlroy was not thinking bogey on the 18th tee but changed his objective on the hole once he saw the lie his poor drive had found. It only took a bogey to secure his win, so that became a very acceptable outcome.
There’s a lesson for all of us in that.
Ways to Win: Horses for Courses – Rory McIlroy rides the Rors to another Quail Hollow win
Tell me if you’ve heard this before: Rory McIlroy wins at Quail Hollow. The new father broke his winless streak at a familiar course on Mother’s Day. McIlroy has been pretty vocal about how he is able to feed off the crowd and plays his best golf with an audience. Last week provided a familiar setting in a venue he has won twice before and a strong crowd, giving McIlroy just what he needed to break through and win again. A phenomenal feat given that, not long ago, he seemed completely lost, chasing distance based on Bryson DeChambeau’s unorthodox-but-effective progress. McIlroy is typically a player who separates himself from the field as a premier driver of the golf ball, however this week it was his consistency across all areas that won the tournament.
Using the Strokes Gained Stacked view from V1 Game shows that Rory actually gained the most strokes for the week in putting. Not typically known as a phenomenal putter, something about those Quail Hollow greens speaks to McIlroy where he finished the week third in strokes gained: putting (red above). He also hit his irons fairly well, gaining more than 3.6 strokes for the week on a typical PGA Tour field. Probably the most surprising category for McIlroy was actually driving, where he gained just 1.3 strokes for the week and finished 18th in the field. While McIlroy is typically more accurate with the driver, in this case, he sprayed the ball. Strokes gained: driving takes into account distance, accuracy, and the lie into which you hit the ball. McIlroy’s driving distance was still elite, finishing second in the field and averaging more than 325 yards as measured . However, when he missed, he missed in bad spots. McIlroy drove into recovery situations multiple times, causing lay-ups and punch-outs. He also drove into several bunkers causing difficult mid-range bunker shots. So, while driving distance is a quick way to add strokes gained, you have to avoid poor lies to take advantage and, unfortunately, McIlroy hurt himself there. This was particularly apparent on the 72nd hole where he pull-hooked a 3-wood into the hazard and almost cost himself the tournament.
It’s rare that a player wins a tour event without a truly standout category, but McIlroy won this week by being proficient in each category with a consistent performance. From a strokes gained perspective, he leaned on his putting, but even then, he had four three-putts on the week and left some room for improvement. He gained strokes from most distances but struggled on the long ones and from 16-20 feet. Overall, we saw good progress for McIlroy to putt as well as he did on the week.
McIlroy also had a good week with his irons, routinely giving himself opportunities to convert birdies where he tied for seventh-most in the field. When he did miss with his irons, he tended to miss short from most distances. His proximity to the hole was quite good, averaging below 30 feet from most distance buckets. That is surely a recipe to win.
When you add it all up, McIlroy showed little weakness last week. He was proficient in each category and relied on solid decision-making and routine pars while others made mistakes on the weekend. Sometimes, there is no need to be flashy, even for the best in the world. It was good to see McIlroy rejoin the winner’s circle and hopefully pull himself out from what has been a bit of a slump. Golf is better when McIlroy is winning.
If you want to build a consistent game like Rors, V1 Game can help you understand your weaknesses and get started on a journey to better golf. Download in the app store for free today.
Club Junkie: Fujikura MC Putter shaft review and cheap Amazon grips!
Fujikura’s new MC Putter shafts are PACKED with technology that you wouldn’t expect in a putter shaft. Graphite, metal, and rubber are fused together for an extremely consistent and great feeling putter shaft. Three models to fit any putter stroke out there!
Grips are in short supply right now, and there are some very cheap options on Amazon. I bought some with Prime delivery, and they aren’t as good as you would think.
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K.H. Lee WITB accurate as of the AT&T Byron Nelson. Driver: Callaway Epic Max LS (10.5 degrees @9) Shaft: Graphite...
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Equipment is accurate as of the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson Driver: Callaway Epic Max LS (8.5 degrees @7) Shaft: Mitsubishi Ka’ili...
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