One GIR, one chip, and one less putt per round. Is that the recipe for improvement in my golf game this year? I must be suffering from cabin fever or the general malaise of winter, but this new mantra was starting to click in my brain to the tune to the old Thorogood rendition.
After reviewing my performance stats for the past few years, it would seem that making just minor improvements in these key areas would allow me to shave two strokes off my scoring average, which would be huge. But it’s been incredibly tough to make any measurable improvement and my propensity to plateau has got me concerned. Two things seem constant: I have a continual desire to make significant changes in different areas of my game and the work I put in hardly yields any downstream positive effects. Does this happen to you as well?
Then I read the “3 – 8 – 13″ theory in a recent golf publication and decided to put it to the test. The assumption: If you hit 3 greens, you should break 90. Hit 8 and you’ll crack 80. Hit 13 and you break 70. Since I averaged 8.74 GIR last year and 78.85 strokes per round, I figured the correlation was close and set out to measure it. I had 23 rounds with 8 or more GIR and broke 80 19 times; pretty darned accurate. In the last three years, I hit or exceeded 13 GIRs 11 times and shot 70 once and broke it twice. However, my worst score of those 11 rounds was 76, so that proved there is a huge correlation between GIR and score. Funny how it keeps coming back to ball striking. So what now?
From various lessons and film analysis, I know my ball striking inconsistency stems from a loss of spine angle on the downswing and a bit of an early release. It’s hard to work on swing in the winter, so I’ve been focusing on eliminating bad habits in my backswing and putting myself in the best positions possible. This work is possible with just a mirror and a club in your basement, and as I work the various positions, the guy looking back in the mirror seems to be in pretty good shape but what’s going to happen with that first live contact in a couple of weeks? Also, in one of those sub 70 rounds, I noted my playing strategy was to shoot for the center of every green on any iron shot longer than a pitching wedge; interesting. Perhaps some conservative course management would be in order as well.
Anyone with some good drills for maintaining spine angle, increasing lag on the downswing, and overall course management improvement tips, please send them along. Thanks!