Birdies, Bogies & Snowmen (Golf review of 2019)

For somebody that loves to analyse and plan, this time of the year is great!

In this blog, I will look back at my playing statistics for 2019. Did I hit my goals? Am I improving? Was my year full of birdies or the dreaded snowmen?

My last review was back in August and you can read the full blog here.

SPOILER ALERT: It was not pretty. Frustratingly inconsistent ball striking had been compounded by a bout of the chipping yips to leave me more than 2 shots outside of my stroke average goal of 73.0.

I took the decision following the review to complete some technical changes to my posture and hip action through the ball. Normally such alterations would be left until the end of the season to allow more integration time, but I felt that I had little choice as the momentum of my game was firmly stuck in reverse. So how has the second half of my season gone? Am I still a gibbering wreck over any short approach?

Well I am pleased to report that I managed to reduce my stroke average for the latter half of the year (9 rounds) by 1.2 shots to 74.1. So where were the improvements and how can I save the extra 1.1 shots per round to hit my goal for 2020 of 73.0?

DRIVING

My improvement in scoring during the second half of 2019 was all the more remarkable given that I lost 12 yards on my average drive from 267 yards to 255 yards. Why? The weather in the Eastern UK in the period September to December was unusually wet. All the courses were playing extremely long with little run available.

This is where raw statistics can be misleading. My strokes gained Driving actually fell from +0.58 in Jan-Aug to +0.42 in Sep-Dec but it is very difficult to maintain a positive figure at a Scratch level with a Driving average only just over 250 yards and so I can be rightly pleased with these results.

Lets look at the 2018 v 2019 distribution charts.

 

2018 Distribution on the left. 2019 on the right.

Whilst the increase in fairways hit was relatively minor, the charts show that I managed to avoid the ‘big miss’ better in 2019 and therefore my equipment changes (particularly the Driver switch) in January has been beneficial.

Interestingly, my miss bias with the new clubs has been slightly more to the left. I have traditionally used a draw bias setting in my Titleist metals (A2) but will experiment with a more neutral setting (A1) over the winter period.

APPROACH

I managed to improve my Strokes Gained approach from -1.01 Jan-Aug to -0.45 Sep-Dec 2019 but I am still losing strokes to the field in this area.

Lets break the full year 2019 strokes gained per round figures down into a little more detail.

  • 100-150 yards: -0.24
  • 150-200 yards: +0.25
  • 200-250 yards: -0.54
  • 250 +yards: -0.24

I am losing more than half a shot per round on approaches between 200 and 250 yards. For a relatively short hitter, these length approaches are common and crucial.

Frustration has recently led me to switch my hybrid for a utility 3 iron, which will cover the approaches between 190-230 yards depending upon conditions. Early signs are positive with an improvement to 20% green hit with the 3 iron compared with just 12% for the hybrid and a strokes gained improvement from -0.6 shots per round to +0.1.

SHORT GAME

I am delighted to announce that my sanity was maintained and the yips disappeared (almost) entirely.

The technical changes seemed to do the trick and with a strokes gained of +1.21 for the second half of the season, my chipping could most certainly be described as a strength.

Here are the detailed strokes gained per round for the full year 2019:

  • 0-25 yards: +0.79
  • 25-50 yards: -0.56
  • 50-75 yards: -0.23
  • 75-100 yards: -0.07

It is my pitching, particularly in the range 25-75 yards that is costing me almost a shot to the field per round. This is therefore the area that I will focus most of my practice time upon in the off-season.

PUTTING

Once a streaky part of my game, since my change to a left hand below right grip a couple of years ago I have been a remarkably consistent putter, with a strokes gained average of above +1.0 in both 2018 and 2019. Lets take a look at the statistics:

 

2019 stats on the left with 2018 on the right

My goal for 2019 was to be more positive from longer range and my improvement in the % holed from outside of 20 feet would suggest that I have managed to achieve my goal. Similar stats for 2020 would be most welcome.

CONCLUSION

Despite some difficult weather and course conditions, I managed to improve my play in the second half of 2019 and 4 tournament victories were the result.

I have identified 2 key areas: 200-250 yard approaches & 25-75 yard pitch shots where I can save myself the 1.1 shots per round in order to meet my stroke average target of 73.0 for 2020.

My strategy to achieve these gains includes a change in equipment (utility iron replaces hybrid) and an alteration of my practice time to include more focus on pitching.

I hope that you can gain some insight through my individual evaluation process in order to review your own game, tailor your practice and achieve your best year of golf ever in 2020. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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