One 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.
- Get back to fundamentals
- Keep it simple
- 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?