Take charge or stay the same

I’m not sure if I was wearing a helmet or not, but I fell off the horse there and hit my head pretty hard.  But, as they say, it’s time to get back in that saddle and take charge of the future.  Otherwise I’m gonna keep smacking my head on the ground and that’s not the most appealing way to travel through this life.

I think I just had myself a slight case of writer’s block, to boot.

It was worse than that, actually.  For the two weeks I haven’t been sure what I needed to write about, but I also felt like I had lost control of my own practicing.  For the first time I felt kind of helpless and out of control and unclear as to what I should do to get over a setback.  In the past when I had a bad day or round or week I could pinpoint something and figure out what to do to make sure I improved and made it over a hump, but the past couple of weeks of tournament, and practice, rounds were morale killers.  They were mystifying.

If I had played the Royal Oaks Invitational Tournament (ROIT) two years ago and shot what I shot this year I would have been disappointed.  Two years ago!  As in, during my first season of tournament golf ever.  Add a couple thousand practice hours and entering with confidence and a good disposition and it was like being slapped in the face for three days straight.  The thing is, I didn’t hit the ball poorly or make any big mistakes, I just could not get the ball in the hole.  For the life of me, every single hole was a struggle to get that ball in the hole.  I had one day where every green I hit in regulation I bogeyed from putting and another day where my only pars came from sand saves.  I hit more fairways than I ever have in any tournament, but either hit the wrong part of the green on the approached or missed it all together.

I walked away shocked.  I shot 88-87-88 but I felt like I had played so much better than those scores.  I was about 10 strokes PER DAY over what I wanted to shoot.  I had 40 putts each day, which is about 8.5 more than my running average.  I hit 10 fairways the final day, which is about 5 more than my running average.  I did not have a single birdie over the three days, but had 13 looks from within 15 feet of the cup.   Zero for 13!  I almost chipped some in, but then managed to miss the 5-footer par putts and bogeyed even those holes.  It was a complete shit show and I couldn’t figure out how to turn it around.

I was pretty beat up.  To get my golfing mojo going again I tried to play a non-pressure round at Riverside the next day and struggled to score there, too.  I shot in the mid-80s on the round and then found myself stuck shooting mid-80s for a few days.  I know that there are ups and down in this game, but this felt different than in the past.  I felt like I had forgotten how to play the game, how to score, how to keep calm and how to hit quality iron shots.  Most importantly, how to get the ball in the hole.

I thought about this for a while.  I know a lot of really good golfers who can play an entire season as a plus 1 handicapper and then the next year they struggle to keep it at a 4 handicap, but then find their game again the year after that.  It’s an ebbing and flowing beast, this sport.  That said, I want to ebb and flow about ten strokes lower than I am currently.  I want my bad weeks/tournaments to be in the mid to upper 70s and my normal to be right around par and the good times to be mid to upper 60s.  10 strokes better.

After the ROIT and week of misfires, I spoke with a number of people trying to figure out how to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  I am willing and happy to put in the work, but I honestly didn’t know what needed to change in order to make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen again, or more importantly that a bad week is way better than the one I just had.  I spoke with a few of the human performance experts I have met along the way, my goal guru and some regular playing partners who have helped me along the road.  Each had some good advice and a couple pieces were similar across the board.

First off, one commonality was to work on the mental game.  When I say mental game I mean learning how to visualize, address and breakdown a round shot by shot while staying in the moment.  I have a tendency to dwell on a miss which potentially causes a string of bad shots.  I need to improve my ability to address the situation, make a firm decision, execute the shot, do a post-shot routine and be finished with it.  Too often I am putting while thinking about how I should have hit a wedge instead of a 9-iron on the previous shot; not thinking about the putt at hand.  The mental game, which can be harder to track and practice than swing mechanics as it’s somewhat elusive, was obviously a top priority.

To address this, I managed to get in touch with Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson of Vision 54 as they are highly regarded in the golfing community.  They also happen to be the #1 and #2 ranked female golf instructors in America.  I was told that I should attend their courses about a year ago, but couldn’t afford it at the time.  Finances haven’t changed, but I can’t miss out on something that could potentially be a boon for the Plan so am going to drive to Denver next week and attend their two-day course.  This is the first step in my new attack plan and I’m excited to learn implement their system and learn what they have been teaching.

The next step is stats.  Goal Guy Stuart suggested that I find five aspects of the game that I need to turn up to 11 in practice.  It could be any five parts; the importance being to figure out what needs the most work and then track those numbers to make sure I am improving at a steady tick.  Over the past couple of months I have devolved in my stats tracking and relied too heavily on simple numbers such as score, fairways, GIR and number of putts.  Those numbers can paint a decent picture of your game, but in my opinion don’t break it down enough to really see what is adding extra strokes.  So, I spent a few days thinking about which 5 stats to pay extra attention to and have finally made a decision.

My five improvement markers:

Score from within 100 yards.   This is more than just scrambling percentage.  It’s how many strokes it takes me to get the ball in the hole any time I am less than 100 yards to the green.  My ultimate goal is to average as close to 2 as possible.  This includes sand shots, pitches, chips, putts, etc.  If I hit a green in regulation from 110 yards out then this stat is not kept on that hole.  On my first round of tracking this I had 10 holes where I had shots from within 100 yards.  3 times I scored a 2 and 7 times it took 3 strokes to get the ball in the hole.

Iron shots from 120-200 yards out.  What I am interested in here is whether they hit the green or went left/right/short/long.  Pretty straight forward, I just want to see where I am going when I have a clean look at a green so that I can improve my iron play.

Quality tee shot.  This isn’t about fairways hit, it’s about executing a quality shot from the tee and includes all 18 holes, not just non-par 3s.  A quality tee shot is one in which I draw up a plan, make a good swing and the ball does what it was intended to do.  If the ball is topped or thinned or comes down 40 yards short or cuts when I intended to hit a draw it is not a quality tee shot.  But, if the ball starts on my intended line and draws how I envisioned but ends up in the first cut of rough it is a quality tee shot.  It’s more about execution than result.  Too often I hit a fairway and it counts as “fairway hit” but the ball was a worm burner barely getting off the ground or ended up on the far left of the fairway when I was aiming right.  Quality tee shot paints a better picture of the number of times I successfully executed my intentions.

Feet of putt made:  How many feet of putt drop on each hole.  A tap-in is 1 foot made, a long bomb can be 40-80 feet of putt.  My goal is to make 100 feet of putt every round.

Chipping proximity:  The number of feet to the hole remaining from every chip.  If you can knock it tighter you can make more up and downs.

These are my five new metrics that I want to first track and then improve.  Once I have a few weeks worth of data on these measures I can start to develop a practice plan to improve upon them.  Mix that in with the mental game work and it will help make sure I stop scoring in the upper 80s during important tournaments.

It feels good to have a new attack plan.  Without one it is easy to feel lost out there with all of the intangibles that make up this wonderful game.

One last thing.  I want to describe one hole that sums up my ROIT experience.

On the 17th hole on Saturday I walked up to the tee box after 3 putting a 210 yard par 3 for a bogey to go 12 over on the day.  On 17 I hit a good drive straight down the middle that ended up 170 yards to the middle of the green.  The pin was on the left side and the hole seemed to play a bit uphill and into a slight breeze.  I decided to play it safe and just go for the middle of the green with a smooth 6-iron to counter the hill and breeze.  The green had a backstop-like hill behind it and I figured anything from 170-180 would be a perfectly acceptable shot.  I made a good turn and caught it crisp.  The ball went high in the air and looked like it was going to drop in the middle of the green.  But, to my dismay and surprise, it sailed the green and the little hill behind it and landed on the tee box for the 18th hole 20 yards past the green.  I didn’t know what happened as my shot was from the fairway so I’m pretty sure I didn’t catch a flyer and hit it well. (Later a member told me the wind is deceptive and often plays downwind on that hole even though it feels into the wind).   I had a 20 yard chip that I needed to land on top of the little hill in order to hold the green which sloped away from me.  I hit it a bit high and it hit a branch falling down short of the green.  I then tried again to chip it to the top of the hill and did it, but the ball stopped dead perched up on the hill just off the green.  The green sloped hard down to the hole so I just tapped it as all day the greens had been flying.  This time it did not and my ball ended up 6 feet short of the hole.  I read the putt as breaking right and it held it’s line so I tapped in for a triple bogey.  I had made a good drive and thought I made the right call and swing with the 6-iron, but then ended up 3 over par.  That sums up my 3-day ROIT tourney.

It’s time to get back to work.  I have a lot of stats to improve upon.

  • Chris Villasenor

    Go get ‘em Dan! My golf has gotten significantly better this year through simplifying and staying focused on the quality of my contact and not the results Maybe I’ve been reading too much Rotella… :-)

  • Dale

    Instead of those stats, I suggest you read “Every Shot Counts” and use his metrics. He is the creator of the shots gained putting statistic. He has measurements for all parts of the game. They are based on thousands of shots by both professional and amateur golfers. This will give you a much better picture of where you need to improve to get to the next level of your development.
    BTW I went 69/81 this past weekend. I feel your pain. Sometimes it just isn’t there.

  • subject smith

    Salutations Dan, don’t know whether this will encourage or discourage, but your plan and dedication is inspiring and valuable, to me, and hopefully others. All the best!

  • Bernhard

    Good luck with the updated and adapted approach.

  • Stefan

    Just my two cents after reading your blog for several years now: from time to time it seems when you have to decide which club to pick or what point on the green to aim for you get a bit overoptimistic taking the longer club or the more distant one and think you can control the shot. I.e. one time you wrote you had to decide between a 6 and 7 iron or something like that and decided to use the 6 and swing a bit slower. When I had read this the outcome was already clear to me and then you consequently reported the mishit.
    My experience shows, whenever in doubt, choose the shorter club and give it a full swing to get crisp contact. And never try to withhold anything in your swing, that may destroy your rhythm. And if you are slightly unsecure about the green conditions aim a bit short of the flag.That will keep you from sailing the green as on the 17 when you ocassionally hit the sweet spot exactly. And even if it sometimes comes down a little short then you may need one shot more and end up par or bogey but not triple.

  • Donnie

    Setbacks are unavoidable, your enthusiasm in dealing with this is very inspiring! It’s extremely important that your feel and mental approach progress at least as much as your fundamentals. Love the positive approach you’re taking.
    FYI – highly renowned golf mental coach, Jim Waldron-BalancePointGolf, is right in the Portland area. He is affordable and a mental coach that truly cares about your longterm improvement.

  • Paul Boyle

    This ^^^ X 100Look into strokes gained on every single shot to give yourself a ‘benchmark’ stroke amount for all shots from various distances from the flag. ie. professional golfers average 3.18 strokes from 200 yards out.

    http://www.columbia.edu/~mnb2/broadie/Assets/strokes_gained_pga_broadie_20110408.pdf

    check out the appendix of this website for more info.

    This can help you hone in on what shots you are losing the most strokes on.
    I am in the process of developing an app if you are interested. Best of Luck Dan!

  • Tiina

    Hi, Dan!

    Just recently found your Plan and blog, so I don’t know all the details about your nutrition and such. The first thing coming to my mind is that have you been taken your vitamins ;) seriously… especially B12 vitamin is crucial for the nervous – muscular system to function properly. The ‘symptoms’ as far as I have noticed have everything to do with the finer parts of the performing: you train and play hard and you execute the bigger shots pretty well but then you lack the fine tuning and ‘the Touch’ – for me that has shown out to be the first and foremost indicator of having been training too much and/or too hard and the body needing extra B12.

  • phades74

    I think the statistics are overrated. Despite all these things with nutrition, exercise, mental game, etc., today’s pros are not better than in Hogan’s or Nicklaus’ eras. Neither are today’s amateurs. The only difference is the technology of the golf ball and clubs that have allowed today’s golfers to be longer. You have to careful not to get paralysis from analysis. Trust your practice, your mental game will improve with the confidence you will get from taking your practice game to the golf course, and your good friendly games to the tournaments. Good luck.

  • Paul Boyle

    I agree that BAD stats are overrated. Things such as putts per round and scrambling % aren’t really measuring anything meaningful. If you miss every green and chip 18 times from ten yards to 2 feet; you would hardly contribute your 72 to great putting. But tell someone you had 18 putts and they will respond with ‘ you were on fire with the putter huh?!’.

    Distance from the hole is the single most contributing factor to strokes to hole out. With enormous amounts of data collected with shot-link , variability ;(like difficulty of lie or pin position) is included in the value of strokes to hole out at some given distance.

    This decouples putting ability and chipping ability by giving each every shot a certain value. One would see the picture much more clearly by understanding that from 10 yards in the rough, the value of strokes to hole out is 2.18. Putting from 2 feet has a strokes to hole out value of 1.01. The chip would represent a gain in strokes of(2.18-1.01) .17 while the putter only represented a gain in strokes of(1.01-1) .01.

    We now no for sure what contributed the 100% scrambling.

    By extrapolating this system one can account for every shot. A little analysis would give a player a good snap-shot of their game and a couldn’t help but develop a meaningful practice routine.

    There is always going to be variability on how you perform on a given day. With golf especially, because the is so much variability on what a sand shot or tee shot or short game shot is. (as opposed to a basketball free-throw is always from 15 feet on a ten foot high rim). Free throw percentage is clean stat, it is easy to measure and there is little variability on what a free throw is; and even still free throw percentages vary from game to game.

    To hand wave at stats and tell people to trust their gut on how to practice is precisely why it is so very difficult to get good at this crazy game. THERE IS SO MUCH MIS-INFORMATION OUT THERE. Remember Dan wrote this post because he is feeling like he is hitting a wall with his practice routine. Attributing his bad play to just standard variability is over-simplification of the problem and we might as well be shoving him back in a dark room with out a flash light.

    The reason people refer to ‘paralysis from analysis’ is because they find that bad stats don’t tell them anything. And they won’t; they aren’t using the right tools for the job. The bad stats are causing the paralysis! Might as well ask an astrologist advice to construct a practice routine.

    Bench-marking your performance on different shots is a great tool to understanding what the game of golf really is. Also, its very hard to practice the wrong thing with enough personal strokes gained data to give you an adequate sample size.

    As always best of luck to Dan and every other golfer out there.

    Until then,
    Golf your ball :D

  • mikewoodhouse

    By coincidence I’m reading Nilsson & Marriott’s “Every Shot Must Have a Purpose” right now. I certainly agree with a lot of the ideas (although I could stand to see less UNNECESSARY CAPITALISATION). I’ve always been fairly good at “letting go” of a disappointing shot (frankly, I’ve always needed to be!) but there’s a lot more in there that I think would be of benefit. Looking forward to reading how the course goes.

  • thedanplan

    Hi Paul,

    You do make a fine point and I happened to cross paths (twitter) with Mark Broadie recently as well as a couple of years ago we had a phone conversation. His work is great in the golf world and the way he breaks things down in his book is huge for golfers trying to understand how to improve. I’m going to read it so that I can better understand where to practice.

    Thanks for the comments,

    Dan

  • thedanplan

    Hi Stefan,

    Seems like you know me well from reading the blog. I do always play better when I club down and make a good swing. Great observation. This is especially the case when you have to be below the hole.

    Cheers,

    Dan

  • thedanplan

    Mike,

    That’s a funny coincidence. Do you think it has helped you? I have no clue what the course will be like but am excited to spend the time. I think they are on to good things with the mental game and I could use the knowledge right now.

    Have a great one,

    Dan

  • thedanplan

    Tina,

    Hello. I had never thought about that. My nutrition is pretty good, but if there is food I can add in for additional nerve help I am game. What would you suggest?

    Dan

  • thedanplan

    Hi Donnie.

    I have heard of Waldron through a couple people now, do you know what his teaching is like?

    Dan

  • thedanplan

    Thanks subject smith! I appreciate the continued following.

    Dan

  • thedanplan

    Rotella is great! That’s awesome you have had a good summer so far. Playing in any tourneys?

    Dan

  • thedanplan

    Hi Dale,

    I’m on it! Thanks for the suggestion. Mark’s book seems to be hugely important for understanding what to practice.

    Thanks!

    Dan

  • Chris Villasenor

    No tournaments for me this year. I’m just enjoying playing golf with my 9-yr old daughter. She enjoys the game and is getting pretty good at it. I play much better with her since I find myself modeling all the best behaviors/habits for good golf. I take my time (but play efficiently), stick to my pre-shot, don’t overswing… it’s really a funny thing. I’ll be in the Portland area at the end of July if you’re around, maybe a round at Heron or wherever?

  • phades74

    Your post only further supports my point. In paragraph 1, you mention that if you chip close to the hole, you don’t credit your putting. But your example is so unrealistic. When in any golf round to you chip from the same distance every time? Further, if you did, could you credit great iron play for consistently getting so close to the green to have shorter chips?

    You hear professional commentators every golf telecast talking about laying up to a favorable distance, instead of getting “too close” to the hole. If it was a statistical certainty that being closer to the hole is always best, why would anyone lay up to a 100 yards, instead of 45 for example.

    Because it is different for every golfer. Statistics are not a one size fits all panacea. For example, It would be absolutely ludicrous for Zach Johnson to try and devote all his practice time to getting longer drives at the expense of his sterling 100 yards and in game, even if statistics say that is where he is weakest. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses in their game. Dan doesn’t need too many stats to know his. Some people say make your strengths stronger to limit your weaknesses. Others say improve your weaknesses. Can’t you get better either way?

    Golf is not a game that can be described by mathematical or statistical models. Golf is about heart, confidence, trust, practice, patience, decision-making, and many other things that statistics do not suffice to describe. I would advise Dan to read Harvey Pennick’s, Little Red Book. Don’t give up Dan, you have done amazingly well. Keep learning how to score.

  • mikewoodhouse

    I think there’s some good material there. If you make the effort to incorporate it into your game, of course (but that’s true of everything). Some of what they say should reinforce aspects you already have: purposeful practise, for example. I’m about 75% through and at Chapter XV, which seems to be about applying simple meditation techniques to improve, well, something. ;-)

    It’s a good alternative read to the more quantitative or technically specific books I read -I have Broadie’s “Every Shot Counts” lined up next, which has lots of numerical tables that I can’t wait to get into.

  • Paul Boyle

    Thanks for the response Phades74; I really do enjoy conversation on this topic, I’ve spent many hours thinking about it and am happy to learn from others through intelligent conversation.

    My overall reaction to your comments are: Of course every golfer’s game is different; this doesn’t mean that you cannot learn something from bench-marking your game using a prototypical “average PGA tour golfer”. Ideally you would be able to log enough shots to get a snap shot of your game and adjust your strategy accordingly; although unfortunately compiling the required sample size individually is somewhat unrealistic.

    Being a number’s guy my whole life maybe I’ve lost touch; but i don’t understand such a fear of statistical analysis. If your argument is “I don’t think these values are accurate” or “8 Million shots isn’t a big enough sample size considering all different kind of shots in golf” or “Lumping all the different lies in golf in to fairway,rough, sand, green,tee and recovery shots is way too much abstraction to give meaningful data” ; I would understand your discomfort with the idea. But “Golf is not a game that can be described by mathematical or statistical models”. Why not?

    There were many professional sports front offices that had the same attitude about their respective sports.

    Do you feel the same way about baseball? Is this also a game that cannot learn from mathematical or statistical modeling?

    you mention that if you chip close to the hole, you don’t credit your putting. But your example is so unrealistic.

    Does it matter if the example is unrealistic? I’m illustrating the idea of decoupling the bad stat of scrambling % (which is basically a putting and chipping stat) in to individual shot values.

    Further, if you did, could you credit great iron play for consistently getting so close to the green to have shorter chips

    This is my point, using strokes gained you give yourself a value for each shot; whereas scrambling % depends on,to some extent, every shot that came before it.

    For example, It would be absolutely ludicrous for Zach Johnson to try and devote all his practice time to getting longer drives at the expense of his sterling 100 yards and in game, even if statistics say that is where he is weakest

    Why does improvement off the tee have to be at expense of Zach’s short game? Does his short game require certain hours of maintenance that are better spent there? Would attempting to add power to his swing ruin it?

    Short drivers aren’t always better putters than long drivers. Pros don’t make all their 8 footers;the golf channel has realized that people like seeing putts go in. My favorite is: 10/10 from putts under ten feet; failed to mention that there was only one putt over 4 feet.

    Golf is not a game that can be described by mathematical or statistical models. Golf is about heart, confidence, trust, practice, patience, decision-making, and many other things that statistics do not suffice to describe. I would advise Dan to read Harvey Pennick’s, Little Red Book. Don’t give up Dan, you have done amazingly well. Keep learning how to score.

    Romantically put, but; history has shown us that we humans are astoundingly bad at accurately assigning causation between two events. We too often attribute good performance to things we have consciously done and bad performance to luck; or some other outside agent. While there is probably some psychological merit to this, we get in our own way by trying to figure out why. The great thing about data is that it doesn’t ask why; with a large enough sample size, it just tells you what is.

  • phades74

    Hi Paul:

    Think about what you are saying. If humans are astoundingly bad at assigning causation between two events, then how astoundingly bad do you think they are at INTERPRETING data. You should really read a New York Times article by David Brooks about this. I will grant you that one way to improve in golf is to look at data and make some interpretations. But my point is that it is not the only way! After all, aren’t your interpretations of the data only as sound as the opinions and bias you bring to them?

    How about another example about how statistics fall short? If you really wanted to be the best golfer, wouldn’t you copy the swing of the best GIR% player, the putting stroke of the best strokes gained putter, the chipping technique of the best scrambling player, etc? Any golfer knows this would be disastrous to their game. How can Bubba win two Masters with his statistically unorthodox swing? Science and statistics look for logically unifying conclusions. Sorry pal, golf is not a game of science, math, statistics, or perfect. They will never tell more than part of the story, and should never be revered as more than so.

    Regards,

    Andrew

  • justin

    Hi Dan,

    Been following your blog since the beginning. Really pulling for you.

    You should take a look at James Sieckmann’s teachings. I’ve followed a good deal of his material. I’m a +1.2 handicap and have found his ideas about the wedge and approach shot game to be really innovative, and definitely effective. My two cents on your progress is that you still have yet to identify your “go-to” portion of your game. Every great golfer has some part of his or her game that they know they can ALWAYS go to even under the most difficult circumstances. Every golfer that has a low handicap and wants to improve must have not only a club/style of shot that they can always rely on (be it “Ok i know if i get to 100 yards I can hit my xx degree wedge and knock it close” or “if i can just get it to 15 feet i know i can one putt” etc.), but also a shot shape they can rely on. Back right pin with trouble short? That’s ok, because i can aim at the center and play my trusty high cut. Those sorts of this are absolutely crucial to bettering your scores. While everyone should practice their weak areas, do not forget to capitalize on your strengths..

    Take a look at your trackman data that you have posted on the site. You’re biggest strength right now, and has been, your 80-100 yard shots. Your weakness is your long irons and tee shots. That tells you to play every par 5 with a layup to 85 yards and wedge it in, unless you have a perfect lie and there is no trouble short of the green. Here are some examples:

    Zach johnson – not a long hitter, but deadly with his wedges. What does he play to? His wedges.
    Phil Mickelson – not the longest hitter, not the best putter, but we all know phil is legendary for his short game. The result? Phil can be more aggressive with his approaches because he knows he can get up and down from anywhere.

    Bubba Watson – extremely long hitter. Best shot shaper in the game. Bubba can attack the ball however hard he wants off the tee because he knows he can spin it any direction he needs to (a’la the masters of 2012).

    Just some food for thought. I’ve been where you are, and while my “golf skills” continued to improve, my scoring did not until i began using this approach. Everyone has one part of their game that is 10x more reliable than the rest of it. That’s how the pro’s gut out 70′s on off days and the rest of us are 78+ on those days.

    Keep at it. If you’re ever on the east coast in the massachusetts area I’d love to meet up and play a round.

    Justin

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Play-Your-Best-Golf/108017032583995?ref=hl Geoff Dening

    “I spoke with a number of people trying to figure out how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I am willing and happy to put in the work, but I honestly didn’t know what needed to change in order to make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen again, or more importantly that a bad week is way better than the one I just had. I spoke with a few of the human performance experts I have met along the way, my goal guru and some regular playing partners who have helped me along the road. Each had some good advice and a couple pieces were similar across the board.”

    Okay Dan followed your progress since you began and admire the planning and effort you put in with training, coaching expertise and dedication. The cold hard truth to me is you are not a competition golfer. The one glaring thing that stands out in all your posts is this. You have never made the effort to get out and win a club championship, win the weekly club competition, monthly medal and the various club trophies that are in each season. I assume that like Australian Clubs you have similar seasonal club trophies, Championship (A,B,C), Handicap Open, etc.

    It is all sweet and nice to be asking advice from experts refining your shots and mental game. Perfection is for storybooks, get out and play hard competitive golf and start winning instead of spouting this whining soft literary tripe. Two weeks afgo my club had a pairs event I needed to get an individual score to keep on target for my handicap plan so I drove 30 miles to play in a club stroke round and won. it was all or nothing, I was at the end of my tether injury wise after playing eight club competition rounds in a month. I have two more rounds to play in June and I am behind the targets and still will be out on Saturday and Sunday at two club competitions doing all I can to get the scores needed.
    The following is a Quote from Seve Ballesteros.
    “Pressure is when you are playing for $20 and you only have $5 in your pocket.”

    You Dan, put more importance in getting more food for your brain than getting out and winning golf competitions. You have a low figure single digit handicap and can’t play to win because you seem to think golf is all about stats, facts, and theory, whilst trying to get into professional ranks. Where all that matters is winning not reading, coaching and procrastinating. I have a weekly posting page on my golfing as I have a go at trying to get to the pro ranks. Even if I fail, along the way I am adding wins to my efforts and that is the best confidence and self belief food in golf. I DO win. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Play-Your-Best-Golf/108017032583995?ref=hl

  • Mark

    First off Dan – I’ve been following your plan for a while but finally decided to join the debate.
    I think it’s GREAT what you are doing. I’m cheering for you!
    I strongly agree about reading ‘Every Shot Counts’. This book, is not a ‘how to’ about how to play golf (assume you know this already) and it offers no technical advice about how to swing; it is a simply a statistical analsysis that shows pretty clearly that putting is NOT ‘as’ important as it was long thought to be. Similarly, it shows that the short game, which would include both puttting and chipping aren’t as important as they were so often believed to be.
    ‘Strokes gained’ is the new stat that is Broadie’s genius. Using his system and looking at your shots Dan, you can find out which shots are hurting your score the most and which shots you need to improve in order to improve your score the most.

  • iacas

    Better yet, pick up a copy of Lowest Score Wins (http://lowestscorewins.com/).

    Good luck.

  • Paul Boyle

    Hey Andrew:D,

    Thanks for the response and the continued conversation!

    David Brooks’ 500 words don’t really say anything, lets be honest; he is a just a pundit. To say things like data isn’t good at socially interactions is silly. Of course it isn’t, we don’t fully understand how to measure social interactions. Just because we don’t how to measure social interactions doesn’t mean data is bad at it.

    ‘Think about what you are saying. If humans are astoundingly bad at assigning causation between two events, then how astoundingly bad do you think they are at INTERPRETING data’

    We are! But here we are only looking at correlation not causation. Correlation between distance(& lie) vs strokes to hole out. I’m curious as to when exactly I interpreted any of the data? I never gave any reasons for why the data is what it is. These are literally the summation strokes taken to hole from various lies and distances divided by the number of shots taken from those lies and distances. That is not interpretation. That just IS. Again, if your argument is about the validity of the data then I think we have an interesting conversation on our hands. I just don’t understand what opinions and biases I’m bringing to this data.

    ‘But my point is that it is not the only way!’

    I agree it is not the only way…I don’t know where or when I said that it was. I remember saying that bad statistics were overrated, and; I would venture to guess that people who have found that statistics don’t help them understand where their game is at are using bad statistics(greens in regulation, putts per round, driving distance and accuracy, sand saves and scrambling %). Every one of these stats, except driving distance, depend on the shot before it. Also, does a green in regulation mean as much on a 500 yard hole as it does on a 300 yard hole. On a 500 sq ft green as a 2500 sq ft green…

    With strokes gained you can compare how good your tee shot was to your 150 yard 7 iron; Your missed 1 footer to your tee shot OB.

    ‘If you really wanted to be the best golfer, wouldn’t you copy the swing of the best GIR% player, the putting stroke of the best strokes gained putter, the chipping technique of the best scrambling player, etc?’

    We aren’t talk about swing technique whatsoever. I never pretended to have some golf tip to help someone’s putting stroke. All I am saying is you can help yourself..help yourself by looking at your results. I would suggest do what gains you the most; or in probably all of our cases, loses you the least amount of strokes per round.

    ‘How can Bubba win two Masters with his statistically unorthodox swing?’

    Again, sound like a broken record, but I never once mentioned or ever know what it means to have a statistically unorthodox swing. I’m not slowing down swing footage and looking at angles here. :D

    ‘How about another example about how statistics fall short? If you really wanted to be the best golfer, wouldn’t you copy the swing of the best GIR% player, the putting stroke of the best strokes gained putter, the chipping technique of the best scrambling player, etc? Any golfer knows this would be disastrous to their game’

    I don’t even understand what this means; nor do I think any golfer knows what this means enough to know it would be disastrous to their game.

    ‘Science and statistics look for logically unifying conclusions. Sorry pal, golf is not a game of science, math, statistics, or perfect. They will never tell more than part of the story, and should never be revered as more than so.’

    Why can’t golf be looked at logically? It feels to me that you want to make golf skill some magical jackalop that cannot be explained. What is the other part of the story? People like to use vague concepts like confidence, trust and patience to describe what it takes to be a good golfer. What does this even mean?

    All in all, Andrew, I feel like you are continually moving the goal posts. We started this conversation to give Dan suggestions on how to improve; and if Dan uses this system and it doesn’t work out for him, what does it hurt? We are just looking a summary his rounds to see how he stacks up vs a tour average player.

    Good luck all,
    Paul

  • MaxInSyd

    Hi Dan,

    great reading your recount and I wish you the best of luck to right that ship and to get back on the right track. Golf really is a game of fits and starts.

    I had a question regarding your stats collection: what software do you use? Do you use an app? If so is it custom or freely available? I don’t know of any apps that allow you to capture stats such as GIRs based on proximity to the hole. Thanks in advance for your inputs.

  • tim holt

    Hey Dan we spoke awhile ago, I am the guy trying to put in the 10,000 hours in tennis to see if I can win an age group championship( Gold Ball) A possibly useful thing from my experience. Recently I had stalled out at the 4.0/4.5 level of tennis, I was competitive there but not really advancing. My coach suggested that I temporarily change my game completely, make it an athletic contest rather than a tennis contest. I began serve and volleying in singles and doubles. In and of itself it didn’t really seem to help, I got back to the same competitive level and was just kind of there again. Then after about 6 months my coach told me to return to my previous style of play but work in serve and volley and my new and improved net game. I immediately started winning against better players. recently several of the 5.0 guys at my club have recruited me as a hitting/doubles partner. I feel like I am moving forward again. Not sure how this translates to golf but maybe you can extrapolate.

  • thedanplan

    Hi Tim,

    Great to hear from you and congrats on the new found level of success. there are some similarities in the golfing world and taking some time to strictly work on the physical or mental body is pretty similar to what you mention. My new plan is to strengthen my golfing mind as well as my shot process through a round and then take that to competition. I have faith after this past weekend that it’s going to be a huge step.

    Have a great one,

    Dan

  • thedanplan

    Hi Max,

    Those stats were created by the shotbyshot software and then some through the golfshot app. I think the ones you were looking at were shotbyshot.

    Thanks!

    Dan

  • thedanplan

    Hi Justin,

    That makes sense to me. Always play to the strengths and know your successes from all different distances.

    I’ll figure out exactly which part of my game is the most reliable and hit to that!

    Dan

  • Muttox

    Dan, have a look at shots to hole, it’s an Aussie stat keeper witch allows all the data left/right short/long lie etc a lot of pro’s here use it. U do need min 10 rounds but without detailed stats how do u know if practicing 40 yard chips only saves u 0.7 shots a round. I’m not sure about your quality shot stat keeping as most tour pros might say they hit 2-5 pure shots a round. Definitely tournament play asks a lot more mentally so develop that area in tune with your stats and as the cliche says, “one shot at a time”. I really wish you good practice and a good head in tournament play. Also I’m not sure if I’ve read anything about your fitness, breathing or stretching routine since you started, is it something you include?