Alas, it’s supposed to be 72 degrees the day after Christmas in the DMV and no doubt the season could be extended another week, but I’ll be in New England for the holidays. Let’s call it a wrap on the 2015 golf season and analyze performance.
Usually, not much changes with my game from year to year but 2015 had a notable exception. This was the year where I made great strides on the greens. Late in 2014 I had made a change to my pre-shot putting routine that allowed for better speed judgment. I leveraged that into nearly a full stroke less in putts per round. The benefit was fully reflected in a lower scoring average and better relation to par stats. The discovery was exciting and I’ll continue with this in 2016.
My ball striking with the driver also improved as I worked to simplify my mechanics by focusing on making a full shoulder turn. Unfortunately, I couldn’t parlay better driving into more GIRs and the stats were virtually identical to the previous year. In fact, every year I’m somewhere between eight and nine greens per round and can’t seem to get over that hump. No doubt ingrained swing habits and my reluctance to try wholesale changes are playing a part, and while I’d like to ultimately get to an average of 10 GIRs, that’s a stretch goal.
The bad news was short game. I wasn’t a basket case like Tiger before The Masters, but struggled mentally all year, and played defensively from the fringe and primary rough. Oddly, my sand game was good since I made a technique change early in the season, but I’ve committed to taking short game lessons in the spring to refresh my approach.
On a positive note, last Saturday I spent a couple of hours at the short game area trying to work the problem and think I may have stumbled into an “ah-ha” moment. It’s been my hypothesis all along that I have the shots but just cannot decide what to execute and then cannot perform them for whatever reason. In addition to playing defensively, I feel defensive when thinking of what shot to play. So I stopped and thought about the problem and realized for the first time that my short game pre-shot routine was different from my full swing pre-shot routine. I can’t believe that it had not occurred to me in all this time, but I started to use my full swing routine around the green and the simplicity and clarity provided immediate positive feedback. Then I made a minor mechanical change and stood a little closer to the ball for all shots (picture Raymond Floyd) and voila! Contact and confidence were back.
I was excited to battle test these changes the next day and went out for my final round of the year in a great mental state. As is sometimes the case, the confidence yielded a very good ball striking day and a round of 3-over par. I drove the ball better than I had all year and hit 12 greens. Five of the six misses were on the fringe and every one was close enough to putt, so I never got to try out my new technique, but the change has left me with a positive mindset going into the off season. I will set up my driving mat on the patio in the winter and will work on some light chipping technique as well as the pre-shot routine to get ready for 2016.
How did you evaluate your performance this year? Here’s my final metrics from this year vs. last.