Use stats to
improve your game
In the digital age the availability of such technology it has never been easier (and in many cases, cheaper) for you to assess and monitor your performance. But just because we can, does that mean we should? And, if you are honest with yourself, do you really know why you take them or how to use them?
% of fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts per GIR, number of 3 putts, missed fairways (R or L), up and downs, sand saves, birdie conversion rate, total footage, par 3 (4, or 5) average, average score… the list of statistics is…literally endless (and this is even before we have touched upon the vast amount of statistics provided by swing analysis!!).
Unfortunately, by purely noting down these performance statistics you are not guaranteed to play better, lower you scores, or increase your enjoyment.
And to be honest, given the variety of these numbers, the number of abbreviations, you would not be blamed for sitting there scratching your head, asking yourself ‘where do I start?!?!?’ and HOW do I use this information to help me?!?!
In my experience working with golfers (and a wide variety of sportspeople) actions such as monitoring personal performance is often started with the greatest of intentions, lots of details are noted, time is dedicated to a full review process, and there is an evident enthusiasm or excitement for tracking progress and performance.
Over time, however, this approach becomes less frequently, less time is spent on it, reviews re quick or non-existent, it seems to have less impact, and ultimately…people stop!
Given this apparent minefield, this article has been put together to highlight why you should start taking note of your performance statistics (or restart doing so) and how you can use them to your advantage. It is not my place to recommend or promote the use of certain statistics over others – this is a conversation you should have with your golf coach to tailor this to your game.
So let’s get into why…But first, I should remind you of one key factor…
Progress is not a linear process
Your progress toward your golfing goal/s and the subsequent rate of your achievement is not a linear process.
Unfortunately, the more time spent on golf does not always equal a better performance, a lower score, a reduced handicap, or making more cuts.
Don’t believe me? Map out how your handicap has progressed this year. Chances are it may well look like a gradient profile of a Tour De France cycle stage.
Given the journey to better golf performance is full of ups and the downs., you need to make sure you prepare yourselves for this. And understanding what your ‘typical’ game looks like.
The main reason many golfers stop monitoring their progress, stop, or not start taking statistics is due to a failure in seeing the impact of doing so. They don’t see value in doing it or the direct link to their performance.
When you don’t appear to be getting closer to your target (be it a lower score, higher points haul, or better finishing position), and you have been doing something you believe should be getting you closer to this, after a little initial persistence, it is natural to refocus your effort by trying something else. Because you wouldn’t knowingly continue with something that wasn’t working…right?
You can’t manage what you don’t know
Or so the saying goes.
Without an accurate picture of what you are currently doing within your overall game, or specific aspects of the game, how do you expect to improve? Also, without this information, how do you know what you need to work on??
As I said earlier. This is a game of variety.
As such, it can be hard to track how you are getting on.
To make it easier for yourself to focus on developing your performance. Split the game into smaller areas. Whether you are playing off the tee, from the fairway, out of the rough, from a bunker, around the green, or on the dancefloor, the scenario you face for each shot can impact your approach, your execution, the outcome, and the review of your shot.
Your starting point is a straightforward one. Choose one or two areas that you would like to improve upon. Areas that you would genuinely like to do better in.
Once you have selected an area or a couple of areas – think about (you can even do some research!) what statistics you could take to create an accurate picture of your ability in these chosen areas.
The key here is to start simple. Pick one or two statistics (E.g. Fairways hit, greens in regulation, up and downs, etc) and commit to taking a note of these over your next three (yes three!) rounds.
1.Feedback can feedforward
By choosing to focus upon a specific area of your golf game, you are taking a positive step to implement a change, maintain or improve an aspect of your game. Taking statistics across a few rounds, enables you to perform a (more accurate) review on your golfing performance.
Whatever the area/s of your game that you have chosen to focus on, tracking specific areas across a few rounds creates a detailed picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your game at any given point of the season.
If you are happy with the feedback that these statistics provide – then stick at what you are doing, your practice is supporting what you want to achieve.
If you feel you can or want to improve upon the statistics you see. Then you are faced with a decision. You can either accept this where your game is currently (not permanently) at and act on the feedback to implement a change or to bring in a focus on something or ignore the stats and assume that your game will improve on its own.
Given that you are more than likely to approach this situation by implementing a change or new focus (rather than ignore them), here are some ways statistics can be used…
2. You can get more from your coaching or lessons
You golf coach is a great resource and in many cases a major source of support.
By providing your them with your golfing statistics (before or during your lesson), you are providing them with information that helps them to better help you…
Let me say that again (and in a different way)
By sharing your statistics with your golf pro, you are giving them a better platform to support your development!
The benefits could be a conversation level, gaining suggestions for course management, tactical approaches, or where you can save shots. You may pick up specific practices to help in different areas of your game (short game, long game, around the greens etc). Or at the very least, you spend more time within your lesson focussing on what you need.
3.You can manage personal expectations more effectively
We have all been there. The last round, you shot under your handicap. Surely, then, this weekend, I’ll achieve that again, I’m in form, right?
By selecting one, two, or three key statistics before going out for your round, you are providing yourself with an anchor. This anchor helps you to stay aware of why you are out on the course and how that round is helping you to achieve your goals.
By having a focus that concerns smaller targets (e.g. hitting a green, rather than attacking a pin), you are more likely to be better at managing your emotions, seeing progress, or enjoying the challenge of developing your game.
4.Learn about the patterns in your performance
Taking regular statistics throughout the golfing season, storing them, and review them (as I’ve said) paints a picture of your game.
Given that over the winter months most golfers spend time on the range, away from the course, to work on their swing. It would be useful to know what your game looks like at certain times of year.
In winter, its colder, the ball travels shorter distances (for example), so how does this affect your performance and your approach?
Would your stats look similar in the height of summer? Probably not, no. My point here being, statistics are a form of feedback. They provide a snapshot of where your game is at.
If you put the effort in to take them, make sure you (actually) have a use for them!
There you have it – why you should take simple statistics to improve your game. Hopefully you are now armed with a desire to start (or restart) taking statistics, and HOW you can use these to inform your development!