I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is enjoying the holiday season. For everyone in Longboat Key area, the weather has been perfect, so I hope you have had time to play and collect your stats. At this point, if you have been keeping track of your strikes, you should have a decent amount of data collected to show you a picture of your game. What you should be tracking are your average strikes per round in each area. You should also notice, in good rounds vs bad, which area is usually to blame.
In an earlier post, I said that strikes can be caused by either poor execution or a poor decision. When looking at your average strikes per round, if you are averaging more than 5 strikes in any area, that area needs skill improvement. Less than that and it could still be a combination of skill and decision making. In the next email I will talk about skill acquisition, but there is still one last thing to look at when evaluating your game.
This article is intended for what I find to be the most frustrated group of players, those with minimal strikes shooting scores in the 80’s or 90's. This type of player generally doesn’t have a large variance in score but has a challenge in breaking 80. If your strikes are relatively low, less than 3 per category in all categories, and you are not shooting the scores you might expect since you aren’t wasting shots, then we need to look at distance.
What I want you to add to your scorecard is row to keep track of the distance to the green for your second shot, and the club you had to hit into the green. If you are trying to reduce scores, the first thing we must look at is how many greens can you reasonably expect to hit. Reasonable expectations are key here: PGA Tour players hit an average of 75% of greens from 100-125 yards, they hit 70% from 125-150 and 64% from 150-175. For them, 100-125 is a gap or sand wedge, 125-150 is PW-8i and 150-175 is 9i-6i.
If the majority of your second shots are from over 150 yards and you are hitting a lot of long irons, hybrids and fairway woods into greens, distance is what is preventing you from shooting lower scores. To hit clubs like that into greens and have few strikes, there must be a reasonable amount of skill, but the odds are not good in hitting a lot of greens in regulation. My favorite exercise in this case is to play from 1 or 2 tees forward from what you normally do. This will put a different sort of test to your game and give you more opportunities to hit greens in regulation. If you can do that, and your scores drop, then gaining distance should be your primary focus, or just play from a more forward tee and enjoy the lower scores.
There are 3 key factors in playing better golf in my opinion: skill, decision making and speed. I hope that these articles have helped you determine on which of these areas your focus should be and how you can start to play your best golf. Going forward I will focus on these 3 key factors and how to improve each one. I hope you have enjoyed thinking about your game in this way and I welcome any feedback. It has been very cool to see so many clients showing up to lessons with their “strike” scorecards and asking great questions on how to improve.