In the quest for improvement, proper evaluation of your game is the element that golfers most commonly overlook and misunderstand. Much like the influence of location in the property market, without an accurate idea of where your game currently stands, your practice will go down many blind alleys and it will be almost impossible to create the road-map needed for improvement.
In this blog, I will outline the way that I evaluate my own game. Hopefully you will be able to pick out some elements that will help your own ability to understand the strengths and weaknesses in your armoury.
Note: All images in this blog are taken from the ‘My RoundPro app’. For a full explanation of strokes gained stats, refer to ‘Every Shot Counts’ by Mark Broadie.
End of season Stats
The obvious time to fully evaluate your game is at the end of the season. Out of competition is the best time to reflect and integrate any changes that your analysis has recommended. Here are my main end of year numbers for 2018:
The left hand screen shows a stroke average of 73.9 over 16 rounds (match-play rounds excluded from stats) and how this breaks down into Par 3, 4 & 5 averages.
The middle screen shows my strokes gained statistics around the four key areas, with a strength in putting and a relative weakness in the short game.
The right hand screen shows the traditional stats of fairways hit, greens in regulation etc.
Whilst these are interesting and help to provide a great overview of my game, for the complete picture I need to compare the first half of my season with the second.
1st Half Stats
2nd Half Stats
My season splits nicely into two as I take a break from golf in August whilst the kids are on school holidays.
It was at this point that I sat down and evaluated the first half of my season. As you can see from the stats, I was losing almost a stroke to the field per round in the short game. I therefore analysed this area closely and implemented a number of technical and mental changes in my wedge game.
The results were excellent – I improved this area of my game by 1.29 shots per round in the second half of the season. On the flip side, both my Driving (-0.23 shots per round) and my approach play (-0.90 shots per round) regressed as I focused my practice upon the short game.
I have set the following goals for 2019:
- Stroke Average: 72.5
- Strokes Gained Stats: Driving: +0.50 Approach: +1.0 Short Game:+0.50 Putting: +1.0
- Classic Stats: Fairways Hit: 60% Greens in Reg: 66% Putts per round: 31
The Process – Delving into the detail
This is the bit where you may want to employ a teaching Professional to help you. If you do – make sure they have seen you play on the course and have your stats to help them – support them in Pro-Ams and you can not only have a great day but this will give the Pro excellent insight to help you improve as well.
Lets look at the four different areas of the game and work out my strategy to achieve my 2019 targets.
Distance – Here are my average driving distance stats for the 2018 season:
If I was playing on the PGA Tour, then I would need to increase my average Driving distance of 265 yards by around 30 yards in order to compete with the field.
On the courses that I am playing, however, which will average less than 6500 yards, then my relative lack of length is not holding me back and whilst some extra distance could be useful, the time and dedication required to achieve this is not the best strategy for me.
Course Management – Here are the stats for my 3 Wood for the season:
As you can see, my fairways hit increases to 65% with this Club. With my 5w and 4i this increases further to almost 70%.
For 2019 therefore, my strategy will be to play conservatively from the tee in order to play to one of the strengths of my game – mid-iron approaches.
The fall off in my approach shots was one of the most striking aspects of the second half of the season. The dispersion stats illustrate the root of the issue:
The image on the left is the first half of the season and on the right the second half. They illustrate the results of shots played between 100-150 yards from the green.
The increase in the percentage of shots left short is significant. Many of these shots were well struck but just badly judged. Between now and the start of the 2019 season, I will work on my club selections, particularly when playing into the wind, where I have been using too much loft.
This area has already improved significantly in the last few months, demonstrated by an improvement in proximity to the hole from 9.3ft to 8.1ft from all shots within 25 yards of the green. Whilst this might not seem much, it is worth almost a shot improvement per round on average.
This was achieved by a combination of minor technical changes and more significantly by better visualisation (making sure I viewed the shot from the side as well as behind to get a true visual of the distance and elevation changes).
I will continue to work on these elements towards the 2019 season.
Whilst this has been a consistent strength throughout 2018, closer analysis reveals a chance to improve further:
The stats show a remarkable consistency on the short putts (under 10 ft), but relatively few long putts holed and worryingly not a single putt over 30 feet in the entire season!
I have employed a left hand below right putting grip throughout the season and this has enabled me to be very solid from close in, but I have struggled a little to judge distance from long-range, with a lot of putts left short.
For 2019, I will experiment with using a conventional right hand low reverse overlap grip for putts over 15 feet, which should give me more feel and freedom in the stroke from longer range.
So this is me, and whilst you will have different aspects of your game that need attention, the evaluation process is the same. Now is the time to sit down and do it properly to ensure your 2019 season is the best of your golfing life.