Happy belated New Year! I hope that everyone has set some achievable new year’s resolutions and goals. If you did not set any goals, here are some suggestions for avid golfers of all skill levels.
When I review the statistical data with my PGA and LPGA tour clients to set new goals for the upcoming season, I focus on 3 most crucial stats; total driving, GIR from <125 yards and putts made from 4 to 8 feet. And if you focus on these categories, you will dramatically improve your scoring in 2014.
Following Data is from 2013 PGA Tour. Rankings of best starts at 1st and the worst is 180th place. 90th place is the tour average.
Total Driving – Performance stats of distance and accuracy using a driver
1st Gram Delaset
3rd Henrik Stenson
17th Tiger Woods
180th Mike Weir
You absolutely can’t be short and crooked off the tee. If you are, what should you focus on? Getting longer or straighter? Of course we want to achieve both but I strongly suggest you get longer first. Why? Swinging slower to gain accuracy is one of the biggest myths in golf. If you swing slower it only ensures that you will hit the ball shorter without any guarantee of hitting more fairways.
Make sure your driver launch angle and back spin is optimized. What is optimal? It depends on your club head speed but the launch angle should be 12 to 15 degrees and the spin should be 2000 to 2800 RPMs.
Before you take any lessons, get a biomechanical, strength and flexibility analysis done. If your body can’t function correctly, lessons are waste of money and time.
Once you get the evaluation done, find a teacher who will customize your swing to fit your strength, flexibility, and athletic ability. Ask lots of questions before you start.
Find a personal trainer to build your core strength and flexibility. Try yoga. Your golf may not improve without lessons but you will feel much better working out.
Greens in regulation from 125 yards and in
1st Tiger Woods 89%
3rd Henrik Stenson 88%
90th Brendan Steele 82%
180th Shawn Stefani 73%
Are you more surprised that Tiger lead this category or that the best GIR was only 89% from less than 125 yards? Or that the worst on the tour hit less than 3 out of 4 greens with the wedges. It should make you feel better next time when you miss the green from 100 yards. What is your GIR from 125 yards and in? 60% 50% 40%? Is your GIR better than the worst player on the PGA tour? This is an opportunity area for all players. I am sure Tiger wants to increase the GIR from that distance to 92% or higher.
Take that 5 wood or 2 hybrid out of the bag and add a third wedge. Why? Most PWs are so strong that you need a gap wedge. Gap wedges start at 49 degrees to 53 degrees. Sand wedges start at 54 to 58 degrees and LW start at 59 to 64 degrees. Your goal is to have a 10 yard gap between each wedge when you make a full swing.
Make sure the bounce and grind on the wedges matches your angle of attack, the turf and sand conditions of your course. Rule of thumb: tight fairways and bunkers less bounce; soft fairways and sand higher bounce.
Practice! Practice! Practice! 60% of your range session should be focused on wedges and 25% on driver.
The best way to practice wedge shots: create targets from 40 yards to 120 yards at 10 yard increments and then find out which wedges will give you what yardage with full swings and half swings. Discover your favorite distance with each wedge.
Once you discover the favorite distance try to hit it to that distance on par fives or whenever you have to layup. This is how pros manage their wedge game.
% of Putts made from 4 to 8 feet
1st Greg Chalmers 76.43%
13th Tiger Woods 72.78%
15th Steve Stricker 72.48%
90th Ryan Moore 66.93%
180th Lucas Glover 56.46%
The putting stats usually shock most of us more than any other stats on the PGA tour. Are you shocked that the best on the tour from 2 steps away only made them 76% of the time? Lucas Glover, former US Open champion was only a 50/50 proposition from 2 steps. This is probably the reason why he has totally disappeared from relevance. I strongly believe that this is the most ignored category by an average player yet this is the most achievable category for immediate improvement.
Putter Fitting! Putter Fitting! For every 10 driver fittings I do, I do 1 putter fitting. I don’t want to diminish the importance of driver fitting but I think that putter fitting is just as important. Why? No club in your bag will have more negative effect on your fundamentals than an Ill fitted putter. When the length and lie angle of a putter is fitted well, it should allow your arms to hang in front of you with very little tension promoting an efficient pendulum motion.
Selecting a putter head depends on your stroke path and your how your dominant eye functions during the putting process. How does your eyes see straight lines? A profession fitter can help you with this process.
Take a lesson. Short putts more than anything is all about confidence and fundamentally sound mechanics. Short putts require less feel than long putts; therefore it is easier to teach and learn. It is easier to learn if the putter is fitted correctly for you.
Quick tip: spot putting – 1) start with a 6 foot putt.2) Line up your putt. 3) Address the ball 4) Pick a spot 2 inches in front of the ball. 5) Keep your eyes on the spot, not on the ball, not on the putter head 6) focus on putting the ball over the spot on line with target line.
As you could see by the stats, golf is a simple game. In order to win or lower your score, all you have to do is to drive the ball straight and long; hit greens in regulation with short irons and make short putts. This is the winning formula for players of all skill level. It will be great to improve in all these area at once but due to our time and talent constraints, we must choose our poison. Please make it a goal to improve at least in one of these areas. Good luck and have a healthy and happy 2014!