2015 Golf Goals

TargetOne of the great artifacts from this off season has been the awesome dialog from the blogging community regarding lessons learned from the previous year, and the ideas being shared for improvement in 2015.  A special thanks to  Vet4golfing51, The Grateful Golfer, and TheBirdieHunt for their thoughtful feedback and willingness to dialog new thoughts and observations.  I feel like a kid at Christmas with all these goodies to immerse in, and then step back and choose a favorite or two to work with.

A few overarching themes are taking the lead when formulating an improvement plan for 2015.

  1. Get back to fundamentals
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Be willing to let your golf swing come to you rather than trying to force one.

All worthy endeavors, but I need to get a little more specific to implement.  As most of you know, I’m a stickler for measurement, statistics, and planning.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit that in my anal retentiveness, I’ve charted every practice session I’ve had since 2007 with notes and a letter grade.  That’s 320 individual events with feedback on full swing, short game, and putting.  I’ve also got playing notes from every one of my 35+ rounds per year for the last eight years.  With all this great data, I decided to mine it and look for what consistently worked in the past.  I would then leverage just a few ideas for 2015  and keep it as simple as possible.

Method:  The approach was to filter on only practice sessions with a grade of A or A-minus and ignore everything else.  That left 40 of the 320 to work with.  Then I filtered on playing notes for only rounds considered excellent (3-over par or better), and tried to observe some commonality.  Three themes kept repeating themselves (two full swing and one short game).  On the full swing, I need to shorten my back swing.  This makes sense because it’s easier to maintain my spine angle with a shorter back swing and some of my best ball striking days were using this swing thought.  I know from film study that losing my spine angle is the root of all evil.  Second, I need to take the club back on more of an outside path.  Getting it too far inside and setting it promotes an over the top move and the dreaded dead pull.  On the short game, I simply need to focus on making more of a turn and pivot on all shots.  Treat it like the mini-swing that it is and not just an arm action.  That’s it.  I will focus on those three during practice and hopefully think “target” on the course and trust that my preparation will transition.

Metrics:  No plan is complete without the ability to measure yourself.  You need achievable goals but targets that are not easy to reach.  Hitting a goal should illicit a feeling of accomplishment.  Such was the case in 2014 when I missed on all my KPIs but not by much.  As with most golfers, the GIR is the top performance indicator.  If I can stick to my practice plan, I expect to average 10 GIR per round ( up from 8.47).  If my ball striking improves to 10 greens per round, my secondary goals of lowering stroke average to 78.5 from 79.97 should be achievable.  I’m not setting a putts per round target this year because an increase in GIRs may be accompanied by a higher number of total putts because of fewer up and down opportunities.  Putts per green in regulation would feel like a better KPI, but I’m not interested in going that deep so I’ll keep it at GIR and scoring average.

There you have it.  What are your thoughts about this approach?  Would you do anything different?  Do you have targets for 2015?

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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14 Responses to 2015 Golf Goals

  1. Brian

    Sounds like you have a solid plan! I too believe that GIR is the most important stat in golf. The rest is just stats. Having an average of 10 GIR is a great goal. I will be interested in hearing how this works out. I am impressed by your stat taking….you put me to shame! Finally, thanks for the shout out, I always enjoy hearing what you have to say as well!

    Cheers
    Jim

    • Brian Penn says:

      Jim, 10 GIR is a real stretch goal for me. I haven’t hit that for years but am up for the challenge. If I can be disciplined enough to give my plan a try for the whole year, I’ll have a shot. If I can hit 10, I’ll be golden!

      Thanks!

      Brian

  2. Brian

    Fantastic goals for 2015! That’s some impressive stat/note keeping you’ve done over the years…I need some discipline like that! Best of luck

    Cheers
    Josh

    • Brian Penn says:

      Josh, thanks. I first got the idea to record my practice sessions after reading Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons book where he wrote that he did the same. Just kept adding to it over the years. I’m really hoping that by focusing on just a few keys this year will bring the improvement I seek.

      Regards,

      Brian

  3. Great goals. I like you keep my stats from all my rounds. I have worked the past 9 years bringing my handicap down from 20 to 7. My key area of improvement is my short game. I still only get up and down about 40%. GIR is close to 10. I would like to get that to 60%, probably a wish, but a goal. if I do, would take a couple more strokes off my game.
    Thanks for the comments and approach. Discipline in setting goals is key to accomplishing anything. Research shows that those that set goals have a higher probability of achieving them. You have inspired me to tackle this goal for 2015.
    Have a wonderful holiday season.

  4. Brian Penn says:

    Donald, the stats are important and the playing notes even more so. There are all kinds of nuggets you can refer back to and reuse for technique and course management once your data set gets large enough to use. Best of luck hitting your targets in 2015 and keep us informed on your progress.

    Thanks!

    Brian

  5. Brian, the stat tracking is truly impressive and kudos to you for keeping the discipline that long. I think keeping your goals to those two and trying to keep it simple is great. I’m going to throw a little caution to keep an eye on the tinkering as you practice those swing thoughts. Some days I go out and try to use one swing thought that quickly turns into 5 and all of a sudden my notebook is full of swing thoughts. Inevitably I always come back to my core group of swing thoughts that are tied to fundamentals. Have you ever considered adding any process based goals into your rounds? An example would be keeping track of how many swings you felt truly committed to your shot and your routine? Every time you feel like you stayed committed to your routine and swing thoughts give yourself a check mark. I think you will find that the more check marks you get the better your score and play will be. When I did this I was really surprised at how many shots I was taking in a round that I didn’t feel committed to. Just a thought, but overall I really like your goals and process heading into 2015. Good stuff as always!

    • Brian Penn says:

      You are so right about the tinkering and I’ve always tinkered. As Vet4golfing51 recently said, “Sustained improvement is one of the hardest things in golf.” That is so true and no matter what I’ve tinkered with or new method I’ve employed, I’ll often get a temporary boost in performance but always return towards the norm. I include process based tracking, which I tried a couple years ago after reading the Rotella putting book. It worked, but I was soon on to something else, per my tendency. Probably the only way to have a chance at sustained improvement is to find a pro that I fully trust and have him watch over me as I practice (on a weekly basis) and ensure I am working on a set list of fundamentals that will not change. Hence the pickle I’m in. Do I have enough time and energy to devote to that type of game improvement? Or should I feel satisfied at keeping my handicap (5) at the same level year after year as I age, and consider that relative improvement? Whatever the answer is, I will NEVER GIVE UP! 🙂

      Thanks!

      Brian

  6. Would like to see you keep a total putts per round score.

  7. Robbo Robertson says:

    I find what you have said most interesting I was able to get my handicap down this seaso from 9,4 to 4,4 mainly because of three things club has a new trainer become and I started to trust what he was telling me then we devoloped a game plan. First for the home course master the home course then can master the rest but the biggest movement was short game as my Pro Felix Matz said 70% of the game is won or lost around the greens. Most good players have a good short game. I played 58competive games this season and 30 played better than handicap 13worse than handicap. And 15 no difference.That was the secret to my success Club Champion 2014, Promotion in League.

  8. Robert Lieberman says:

    Robert Lieberman:

    As an outsider looking in, I find that the all out effort that you have put together, to gather an effective way to steadily improve your game is rather unique. It does take a lot of determination and investigation to be able to put this into it`s proper perspective and it appears that you have accomplished that in your little world. I, again, believe that as long as you put together your own sound format, I believe that it will work effectively for you.

    I have played this game for over 60 years and have not gone to quite the degree you have, of breaking down my game, but I look back in retrospect and feel that I have been very fortunate for the way my career has turned out. I am an amateur, with the opportunity to have gone to the PGA school many years ago, but decided not too. My effective way to steadily improve my game was to use this theory. It went like this: ” Plan your work and work your plan.” Practise does make perfect, you just have to look at the 125 P.G.A. Tour Players that qualify every year to maintain their card, which allows them the right to stay on the tour, practice has certainly made it work out for them. They are out on the practice tee every day of the golfing career. I believe their method is as good as you can get. My handicap has gone as low as 3 and has stayed between that and 5 for a long time. Your short backswing is a good method, for the amateur player to work on, but to move up to the top level, a full swing enables you to have shorter shots into the greens, which helps give you a better opportunity for shorter putts for birdies. At my age of 72, I have decided to lengthen my swing, because as you get older, the body lets you know in a quiet way, that those long drives you use to hit, just aren`t going to go that far any more. I decided to develop another method to get the same result, which is lengthening out my swing. I look at it and say, at my age, does it really matter. I only now play for the exercise and maybe try to shoot my age again. I was able to do it the other year, when I shot 70 @70 and unfortunately 71 @ 70, 3 months before my 71st birthday. It`s tough when your birthday is at the end of November, when the course is usually closed or it`s to dam cold to play golf.

    I will finish up by saying to you, your method is sound and you should stay on that track and I believe that you find that: ” it will work for you. ”

    It was very nice to read your technique now just stay with it.

    Best wishes,

    Bob Lieberman

  9. Brian Penn says:

    Bob, thank you so much for your very well articulated thoughts. And congratulations on shooting your age! 70@70 is mighty impressive and I hope to do the same someday. . .although I’m not in that big of a rush to get there 🙂 Please stop by again and offer your valuable insights whenever possible.

    Regards,

    Brian

  10. Sophia says:

    You have a good point actually! the best golf courses for me are those who keep the fundamentals and keep it simple !

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