If you want to shoot lower scores, the first thing you are going to have to do is figure out where you can gain the most value, or what is holding you back from shooting the scores you want. This requires an understanding of how each part of the game effects the next, as well as the skills that are most important within each area. This understanding and breakdown allows for detailed goal setting as well as improvement planning and the ability to monitor progress.
In order to monitor progress, we must first measure where we are within the different areas of the game. To keep it simple there are 4 major areas of the game: Driving (OTT), Approach into the Green (App), Short Game (ARG), and Putting (PUTT). We must look at each of these area's independently of one another to define where we need the most work. As you can see in the image below, Clippd does a wonderful job of quantifiably measuring each of these areas.
Once we have determined which area will create the greatest benefit, we need to unpack that area and find out what we need to do in order to improve it. It is very easy to look and see that driving and approach would be the most beneficial to improve in the picture above. The question becomes what actually needs to get better in order to make that number go up?
By unpacking the area, we can make goals more clearly defined, and progress markers far more measurable. We can also make sure the plan we put in place aligns with what the student can reasonably do from a time standpoint and make sure any work done is moving in the right direction. In this article I am going to go over how to unpack an area of the game to determine the best course of action and how to monitor progress.
Case Study: Gary
Last winter I started working with Gary, an LBK member who wanted to take his game more serious and try and improve. Gary does a great job of tracking stats and uses a Garmin to track his rounds. When we looked at his stats the first thing that jumped out is that he did not hit many, if any greens in regulation. Greens in regulation (GIR) is one of the most important stats if you are looking for lower scores. The goal was to improve his GIR stats, so we had to look at how. The first thing I look at when trying to improve GIR numbers is Driving. This may sound odd as GIR would seem to be a measurement of approach play. However, if the driver is putting you in bad positions, even reasonable approach play will struggle to hit greens. At first glance Gary's driving stats look ok, very few penalty shots and lots of fairways. The issue was evident when we looked at average approach shot distance and driving distance off the tee. Gary wasn't hitting the ball far enough to have reasonable distances/clubs into the green. To hit more GIR, Gary was going to need to get longer off the tee.
Now we have our main objective, hit it farther. When we unpack Driving Distance there are a few key elements: Club head speed, Club Delivery, Contact Control and the Driver itself. Below is the initial test for Gary's driving. As you can see, his club speed average was 73.7 MPH and contact was very inconsistent. His best drive was 184 yards, and the average was 124.9 carry and 156.6 total. If Gary wanted to hit greens in regulation, we were going to need get his driving distance average over 200 yards.
In the image above you can see the Trackman numbers required for the total distance with the Driver. For Gary to get his driving distance over 200 yards we needed to increase clubhead speed to a minimum of 80 MPH. We also needed to then create better impact conditions and contact control. The wonderful thing about every part of this is that we could constantly monitor his progress in each of these areas.
For swing speed Gary added to his already impressive workout schedule and started programming from the Fit for Golf App that was more geared toward training to create speed. He then incorporated The Stack training system and monitors progress within his app and radar. We have created drills for the technical aspects of his golf swing and club delivery which we monitor through Trackman and then he works on contact control with foot powder spray religiously. Finally, Gary has speed sessions on the range where he only works on clubhead speed while hitting balls. Gary has done a wonderful job staying consistent in his work and using the little victories along the way to stay motivated and on task.
Above is Gary's most recent session. He is now comfortably cruising around 82 MPH. His contact is better and more consistent. His club delivery is more efficient, and he is now averaging over 200 yards. He is 49 yards longer on average than he was a year ago. And the one thing I did not mention is that Gary is 84-years old. He is an incredible example of what can be accomplished, no matter the age, which good consistent work.
Now Gary has the OPPORTUNITY to hit more greens than he did before and as the distance continues to improve, we will start to unpack approach shots to see if he can hit a few more GIR and shoot lower and lower scores.
The journey to shooting lower scores is not easy. It requires consistent, quality work. The best way to get where you want, as quickly as possible, is to make sure you know what you are trying to accomplish and why. This understanding is what allows you to create measurable goals to monitor progress and can provide little victories along the way that help to keep you on task. I am going to write much more about road mapping for progress, the skills you can measure and how all the pieces can fit together.
If you have any questions or subjects, you would like me to write about more, please follow up and let me know. I hope Gary's story inspires anyone trying to get better.