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For years, anecdotal information dominated the discussion about wave enhancement. It still does that in many circles. With newer technology we have more reliable data on which to base decisions rather than guess. In my experience, taking a healthy dose (but not too much) of this information can help players improve.
One of the most interesting developments in recent years is the ability to follow the real achievements of golfers on the course. Instead of listening to their reports of the round, we now have cold data that shows us exactly how far players get shots, where they lose shots and many other interesting pieces of information. With millions and millions of recordings followed, many interesting trends have been observed. In this article I was able to show how the performance of golfers changed due to handicap level based on the 20 million shot library of Shot Scope.
Shot Scope recently released a new eBook with some of the biggest strategic mistakes they see golfers making. Their database exceeded 30 million shots and they have discovered many common errors.
I will summarize four major mistakes that the golfer makes. I think they will surprise some of you and change your thinking about common beliefs. If you are interested in downloading the entire eBook, you can do it here (it is an interesting read).
I have to make more birds !!!
Since I started Practical Golf in 2015, I have beaten my drum as hard as possible when it comes to the idea of birdies and double bogeys. The official slogan of the site has become, "wage war against double bogeys."
Most golfers think they have to make more birdies to become a better player. I tell everyone who would listen that it is more about limiting double bogeys (or worse). I have discussed the concept of birdies in this article, and how golfers are all wrong.
Shot Scope looked at five different disability levels and compared the number of birdies they make per round and double bogeys:
Do you notice something?
As you can see, almost all handicap levels are on average far below one birdie per round. The main differentiator in performance between the two is clearly double bogeys. Going from a 26 to an eight handicap shows a reduction of four double bogeys per round. Players with a lower handicap are better at avoiding double bogeys than making more birdies .
Birdies are a nice bonus when they occur, but your main focus is to do everything you can to limit double bogeys. That is practically golf in a nutshell, people!
3-piece for accuracy of the T-piece
Conventional logic assumes that a shorter club next to the tee will be more accurate. For years I thought so myself. I notice that I think differently, especially after I had done this test with my iron and driver.
Often golfers choose to knock a 3-piece off the tee when they feel they want more accuracy. There are, however, two questions to keep in mind when you do this:
How much distance do you specify?
What accuracy do you get?
To answer the first question – most golfers give somewhere about 30 meters away when it comes to a driver versus a 3-wood. Less distance from the tee will cost you success. In my other article with the findings of Shot Scope, the difference in distance between driver and 3-timber was worth about 1/3 of a stroke.
What accuracy have those golfers achieved? Well, it turns out, not much. The use of a 3-wood of the tee improved the fairway accuracy by only 1 percentage point.
I have previously discussed how fairway accuracy is not the best measurement for tee-shot success. However, if 3-woods were much more accurate than the driver of the tee, you would certainly see a huge leap in fairways hit.
There are several reasons why this is the case. To begin with, it is much harder to make solid contact with a 3-wood than a driver because of the smaller face. Gear effect becomes a huge problem, which is essentially a punishment for off-center impact. Most modern drivers are much more forgiving because the club surfaces are larger and have much more MOI (a measure of forgiveness).
In general, this data is a bit of an eye opener. In essence, golfers (as a whole) lose strokes by putting away the tee and not achieving an increase in accuracy.
Laying out at your favorite garden
Another piece of conventional strategic wisdom is trying to build your favorite yardage, especially on par 5.
Often golfers choose to leave themselves with a shot of 100 meters instead of a shot of 40-50 meters because they want to take a full swing. In theory it makes perfect sense. However, this strategy was considered ineffective in Mark Broadie's pioneering book Every Shot Counts
. His statistical analysis showed that given the choice between an 80-meter shot and a 30-meter shot, golfers of all levels would score better if they were closer to the hole. The only reservation is not to take extra risk when trying to lie closer to the hole.
How did this analysis go in the real world?
Across the board, golfers were able to land the ball nearly 30 feet closer to the hole when viewing 110 meter versus 50 meter approaches.
Lob Wedge Addiction
One of the areas where most golfers can quickly get a few strokes are around the greens. I prefer that most players try to simplify their short game and not try too many different techniques (eg Flop shots). However, you can easily change the club that you use to change your route based on the situation.
For example, many players become a bit obsessed with using the club with the most loft in their bag for the most pitch and chip shots. An area in particular where this can cause problems is when the golfer has a lot of green to work with. Suppose you left your approach shortly after the green and you have about 30 meters between you and the flag. The use of a club with more loft requires a very precise remote control, a skill that requires quite a bit of work. Golfers often leave shots like this on the flag and sometimes they don't even reach the green.
Shot Scope has made an interesting analysis of the variety of clubs that golfers use in the green. They chose to separate players by those who can consistently land the ball within 20 feet versus those who did not. What they discovered is that the players who were closer to the hole used more of their clubs around the green instead of relying only on one or two.
When they examined the profile of bad short-game players, they found a combination of club use similar to the following image:
Note the preference for the more elevated SW and LW
Conversely, better short-game players had a more even spread of club use across the board:
All in all, club selection can be a personal choice. This is a part of the game that I think makes sense of your results. Often, golf players will use similar clubs and ignore the fact that they may give up performance gains if they adjust their club choices to the circumstances.
How to change your data
Watching golfers across the board is certainly an interesting study. Many of the revelations from the Shot Scope data are problems that I have observed when observing golfers of all levels (including my own game). But you all have a unique playing style and skill. I always recommend that golfers keep their statistics and go deeper than the traditional ones. With the advent of shot-tracking systems, it's easier than ever for golfers to track their recordings on the course and get a detailed analysis of where they need to improve.
I have reviewed a number of these systems and in my opinion, Shot Scope is the easiest to use if you take all functions into account. Currently they have a $ 139 holiday special on their website here, which is more than $ 100 less than the system it cost when I first reviewed it.
Once you can see your golf game at a glance, it is much easier to see where you can make adjustments with your exercise, strategy and even equipment.