Using Data to Validate Progress

Last year was a strange year for my golf, a little disappointing as my handicap didn’t move in the right direction. Perhaps I’m setting my expectations to high but I believe I am a better golfer than what my handicap of 20.1 shows.

I’ve made some changes this year, you can find out what they are here – https://rookiegolfer.co.uk/2020/03/22/new-season/

It can be a bit of a risk in only looking at a golf handicap for progress but ultimately if your golf is improving your handicap will reduce. It’s not rocket science. So to accompany my ambitions of getting  a lower handicap I’m using the data from my shot scope to help firstly in validating the progress I’m making, and secondly to help guide myself and Rob Ryder towards areas for improvement.

Rob always asks me, how my golf is going.. I’ve learnt when he asks this he wants to know whats not going well. In his words if a student of his says everything is fine his response usually is “Why aren’t you off scratch then? And why are you here if everything is going well with your golf”

For those of you who have a Shot Scope or are thinking of one, Shot Scope have their own Ebook collection which is free for anyone their latest one is using data to help you improve – http://www.shotscope.com/ebook

So let’s start with a snap shot overview from last year to this year:

 20192020
Avg Score Par 34.253.75
Avg Score Par 45.45.3
Avg Score Par 56.225.5
Avg Score to Par+24+ 19
Avg Score Putts1.931.83

There is defiantly improvement, bearing in mind that the 2020 data is only from winter golf vs all of last season. So where are the gains coming from, for me I defiantly feel as if I’m now in control of my swing its not a erratic and I’m not trying to hit the ball with everything I’ve got. It sounds strange I know, but my previous two PGA Professionals never spoke to me about tempo and control they worked with me to hit the ball with the same intensity I’ve always done which isn’t working.

So let’s look at where some of the improvements are coming from:

Fairways in Regulation

11% gains and the miss to the right is reduced, but in reality what do these percentages mean?

Basing on a course that has 4 par 3’s that would leave us with 14 driving holes. In 2019 I was hitting 6.5 fairways out of 14, progress on to 2020 and i’m now hitting 8.13 fairways out of 14. There is still work to be down but hitting two more fairways per round is a trend in the right direction.

Before the PGA had to be suspended Justin Thomas off the tee accuracy is at 58% ranking him as 144th in the PGA for off the tee accuracy. By no means am I saying that I rival JT, but it’s a nice boost to my golf ego and gives the reassurance that 58% success rate off the tee is not that bad!

Greens in Regulation

2019 2020
23% (4.68 out of 18)28% (5.04 out of 18)

So there is not much in it to be honest. Albeit its moving in the right direction it’s means that for every two rounds I play I hit an extra Green In Regulation.  Even though I’ve not see the gains here compared to off the tee, it allows me to focus on this area and discuss with Rob how we can improve my performance in hitting more greens, especially as i’m not the most confident in chipping. It can be easy for me to drop shots by not hitting the green and then a poor chip.

Again to compare against the PGA from 150 to 175 yards out the worst performers are at 34%. Again I’m not trying to compare my GIR to the pros to say I’m as good as them. It’s interesting to see how we stack up, despite having better driving accuracy than some doesn’t mean I out score them or beat them in GIR either. It’s just nice to compare, some say we shouldn’t but I don’t see any harm here.

Approach shots

There has been some notable gains here, and being truthful I haven’t noticed this as much on the course but it makes for interesting reading, the below stats are average proximity to hole beyond 50 yards.

20192020
148.8ft 125.6ft

I’m defiantly leaving myself less to the hole, even though not having as much data in 2020 to compare to 2019 but 23 yards is noteworthy. I want to point out as well I’m not susing my 3 wood or driver at the moment off the tee.. so when I take away the approach shots from bunkers or the rough… IE the shots that make the fairway the below stats tell a different story:

20192020
123.4ft139.3

I have to take into consideration that the stats in 2019 are generated from a lot more rounds and that includes the roll I would be getting from summer golf. Still there is a positive to take from the start of this year only 16 yards behind with no roll and the longest club off the tee is a hybrid.

Short Game

I’m not the most confident of chippers, part of that is more than likely down to club selection something I need to make a conscious effort on. However in 2020 my average is leaving me 17ft from the pin that’s nearly 2.5ft closer vs 2019 and that’s with soft greens. With a bit of improvement to technique and club selection I should be able to get closer to the hole and give myself a chance of holing a few more putts and drop a few more shots.

Putting

So on average I 2 putt 60% of the time, not a bad strike rate.. The biggest improvement in 2020 so far is I’ve limited my 3 putts to only 11% that’s down from 18% in 2019. Putting is a part of my game I feel comfortable with. In fact according to all the data shot scope records from its usera that puts my performance on par with a 10 handicapper.

Summary

In a nut shell, i’m making progress the stats from Shot Scope back this up. There is still more work todo though and i’m hoping COVID-19 doesn’t set me back to far with my golf this season but there is not a lot I can do about that.

I do want to point out it is really easy to get caught up in data and jargon, you see so much of it on TV and for me I think technology and data is great.. However there comes a point where it can confuse things.. The whole purpose is to help guide you and not bamboozle you!

That’s why one of my favorite stats that gives a good health check to my golf is the score break downs that Shot Scope provide, check out the below:

My Bridie percentages are too low to appear on the chart but in 2019 only 0.3% of scores where birdies. 2020 that’s jumped up to 5.1% I’ve sunk two birdie putts this year already! It’s notable that my ability to score par is on the up, I’ve traded bogeys for these in 2020 I now need to reduce double bogeys or worse as tbis is the score that has not changed too much from last year. Its moving the right way though!

For me I’ll be sharing this with Rob Ryder by PGA professional and get his interpretation of what we need to be working on but hitting more Greens in Regulation backed up by my current putting performance looks like a good area to start… Just need to get off the tee consistently.

Let me know how do you track stats? Or if you don’t let me know why?

Until Next Time, Stay Safe

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