2015 Season Wrap Up

WrapAlas, 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. TigerChunk 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.

 Year Score To Par GIR Putts
 2015 78.83 7.40 8.54 31.26
 2014 79.97 8.47 8.47 32.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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11 Responses to 2015 Season Wrap Up

  1. Brian

    What a great year! Any improvement is good improvement on the golf course. I particularly like your introspection where you identified a problem with your pre-shot routine. It is definitely a key to success in all areas of your game. I also like the fact that you follow the GIR stat. I believe it is the most important for players to consistently shoot low scores.

    Congrats on a great 2015 and knowing you will get better in 2016 with your new pre-shot routine for chipping!

    Cheers
    Jim

    • Brian Penn says:

      Thanks Jim, The GIRs for me are the 800 lb gorilla in the corner of the room. I am not trying to improve there, just hold the line, and see how good my short game improvement will work. Monkeying with my full swing is definitely out for now.

      Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!

      Brian

  2. I don’t track my stats that much, but it was interesting to see yours. I have been making a lot of changes this year and there have been periods of progress and regression. Oh well, that’s golf. Still love it.

  3. Brian,

    Improvement across the board this year with your stats, well done! Also nice to finish the season with a solid round and have something to build off of for 2016. Sounds like you have a good plan…if you don’t think a big improvement on GIR is as likely, then tightening up that short game and getting it up and down most of the time is just as good, or maybe better 😉

    Happy holidays!

    Cheers
    Josh

    • Brian Penn says:

      Josh, I’ve been just under 9 GIRs for the last 8 seasons. Consistent if not a bit frustrating. Certainly a trend that tells me to focus on short game to recognize improvement. Thanks!

      Brian

      • Brian – curious what you think is holding you back from more GIR. Is it missed opportunities with ball striking, or giving yourself a lack of opportunities off the tee? From what I have read I believe you have the talent to increase your GIR. However, focusing on short game is always a good idea!

        • Brian Penn says:

          Josh, I lose my spine angle on my downswing which causes an inconsistent shot pattern. It’s more pronounced with the irons and I miss greens too often from 100-150 yards. I’ve tried to solve for it in any number of ways, but don’t have the time or energy to make that significant of a swing change. It was rightly pointed out to me by a professional that changing that habit would be a difficult fix, given how long I’ve been playing with it; hence the focus on short game. If I could cut a shot or two off my handicap with just short game, I would love it. We’ll see what 2016 brings with that approach. Thanks!

          Brian

  4. Pete Robbins says:

    Nice to read that your putting stats have improved. I recently watch a training vid from Ian Woosnam, on pitching from around the green, and it has helped me a lot.

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