I enjoyed reading this article the other day – it discusses some future ideas for the game and what can be done to make golf more enjoyable and potentially engaging for the average golfer. Tiger takes a view that many will find favourable and interesting.
The article discusses equipment changes, game formats and the future of golf. What direction should golf be headed in?
Tiger played a lot of his junior golf with persimmon woods. He mentions how the difficulty of playing them gave so much of a reward to the better players and influenced strategy so much.
In a way he is saying quality ball striking alone would allow you to separate yourself from the field. But is that just a reference to the weaker fields of yesteryear? What is interesting here is the gap between leaders and the cut mark – would equipment effect that?
He also laments the lack of creativity in the game today. Less spin from both club and balls reduce the number of effective shot options. What do you think?
The video above is a fun watch to see todays players give them a go – albeit with modern balls. I first tried golf with a blue wooden 3 wood in 2001 – I was behind the times a little 🙂 but I havent tried one since. I would relish the opportunity. This would also mean ditching light weight and easy to swing 45 inch graphite shafts!
A source of long running debate and research, the modern golf ball is condemned by many for being too versatile – better spin rates and massive distance gains!
Would we have seen players like Seve Ballesteros succeed in the modern ball and club era?
Extra spin means extra curve and lift on the ball. A help in hitting firm greens or creating extra shape it would also be of benefit around the greens – more spin and a very soft feel. But any poor shots were heavily penalised.
This difficulty removed the reward that longer hitters recieve in todays game. They are arguably less penalised for their miss hits.
The modern ball has a forgiveness on miss hits and in difficult conditions that older golfers find hard to fathom. Check out the difference on Trackman here with renowned coach Andrew Rice:
The article asks whether a half set or even four club competition could make it as a prime event on the PGA tour.
Tiger points out that in principle, the lowest score still wins. It is still normal in every other way…there is simply a greater demand on the golfer to adapt and be creative. Surely this could be a good thing?
In Scotland on the Tartan Tour there has been a well renowned one club challenge event after the Pro Am at the famed Skibo Castle for years. There are rarely fluke winners – it still rewards the best players!
FUTURE OF GOLF
What was so interesting to read in the article is to hear a player of Tiger’s calibre posses a strong desire to grow the game.
Personally I don’t believe foot golf or anything too far removed from the traditional game will work. It’s too much of a gimmick.
Golf doesn’t have to be the easiest sport to play. It’s difficulty is its appeal. The fact that you can never master it is the addictive element to the game.
But I do think some things should change at most courses. Of course private courses or very popular courses have little need or desire to change.
DIFFERENT RULES FOR AMATEURS
Many rule changes are on the horizon for 2019. It will be a topic for another blog post, but in summary, I agree with most of them.
There definitely needs to be a reduction in their complexity. But some rules should disappear for the amateur golfer. The harshness and precision of some rules are unnecssary. My best example would be the broomstick and belly putter “anchoring” ban. It has simply destroyed putting for some amateurs.
Here in Norway the VTG or “Road to Golf” scheme provides a fantastic grounding in the basics to help you enjoy and understand the game. I have heard that previously it placed far too much emphasis on the rules and driving range tests.
But now it seems to have found the right balance…it provides guidance but also mixes you in with other fellow beginner golfers. This is so important for helping beginers stay with the game….it is impossible to enjoy as a solo pursuit for many.
Perhaps courses could have beginner times, a bit like juniors have their set times. This will give the beginners some breathing room on the course and hopefully remove some of the trepidation of heading out there.
9 OR 6 HOLE GOLF
A lot of modern courses are built with the 9th hole coming back to the clubhouse. This is fantastic and these clubs could perhaps go further and create certain periods where you can only book 9 hole tee times.
The time “cost” of 18 holes at full size course is substantial….many cannot afford half a day away from work or the family.
Taking the idea a step further, perhaps 6 hole loops would work well. I know growing up and playing after work as the darkness drew in 6 holes of golf was perfect and we made our own mini course up. One hour of golf and social chat can be very rewarding!
Thanks for reading and would love to hear what you think!
Often I feel articles or advice on ‘golf psychology’ that claim to offer an instant fix are doomed to fail. Many thinking tips (as with swing tips) appear to help initially but often act as a placebo or a distraction from the golfers normal failings.
A golfer who is able to consistently display their potential (at all levels) posses more than a tip of the week. They have crafted skills over a long period of time.
When I look at tour players I find it almost impossible to see more than a few things in common between some of them. Many teachers, amateur organisations and others will emphasize their own bias when giving advice.
‘You must do this with your wrist’ – ‘you must have this clubhead speed’ – you must curve the ball like this’ etc. Far too much of teaching follows the nature of whats in fashion of the time.
But by far the most obvious thing I can see with 99% of successful tour players is their ability to “be themselves”.
Often the failed rookie or mini tour player reflects back on being influenced to change their swing or equipment as soon as they have reached the big time. They lose what got them so far in the first place.
Even at the higher echelons of the game Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald could be criticised for changing a winning formula (yes there is a balance – you must keep improving or you are going backwards).
What strikes me is the extreme individuality of so many players.
Dustin Johnson – extreme bowed wrist
Jordan Spieth – left arm chicken wing
Steve Stricker – stiff wristed swing
Kevin Na – apparent yips and dress sense!
Jim Furyk – 7 different swing planes
Bryson De Chambeau – putting – pictured above!
Arnold Palmer – hold on follow through
Gary Player – outspoken in media
Padraig Harrington – obsessive swing changes
Bubba Watson – crazy footwork
Paula Creamer/ Natalie Gulbis – how have they not hurt their backs?!
This is a quick list of what comes to mind….list your favourites in the comments 🙂
These guys and gals have the self confidence to stick to their guns. All have have received critical and substantial media coverage for the points I have highlighted above.
Ask yourself what you can be confident about. What behaviour or technique should you be proud of?
Do not simply try and change because its in fashion or because it’s what your favourite player does!
Here is some info about Sergio direct from the PGA TOUR statistics website (link here)
Sergio’s clubhead speed is 121mph! Well above the tour average of 114mph. His ball speed averages 175.5mph so he is quite efficient in turning club speed to ball speed. This can be measured in every shot, the ratio is termed smash factor.
LAUNCH & SPIN
A launch angle of 10.5 degrees puts him low on the list at 138th in tour – many launching it higher often at 13 or 14 degrees with driver. The video below contains many views of how high he hits driver.
His spin rate is the 6th highest on tour at 3096rpm! Considering Garcia is known for teeing it low (and commonly taking divots with his 3 and 5 wood) this spin rate is hardly surprising. Despite it perhaps being a slight hindrance in the wind and preventing him from his ultimate distance he leads the Total Driving category (a combination of distance and accuracy) . So he is doing ok!
Check out this wonderful collection of Sergio’s shots. Some just show a trace of the ball but many capture Sergio’s peak height and ball speed. It’s obvious how much he favours the fade though!
DON’T CHASE NUMBERS
Many top players have changed fundamentals of their swing which they have possessed for many years simply in the hope of a “better number” without relating it to their potential difference in score. You have to admire Garcia for sticking with what he knows, what feels natural and not chasing that potential yardage.
As we saw on Sunday night, getting it over 300 yards is no problem! A key factor here (not published by the tour but available for analysis on Trackman) is landing angle. Often we saw Sergio’s ball scamper on the fairway another 10 or 20 yards beyond Justin Rose. The low launch high spin combination is increasingly rare – but he makes it work!
ONE WAY MISS
A final statistic which caught my eye was his rank at 201st in left rough tendency. In layman’s terms this means a one way miss. He will basically look down every hole and not see the trouble on the right hand side. Knowing he plays a fade the majority of the time helps us understand his strategy around the course. A two way miss hinders confidence and decision making – it adds many more possibilities to every situation on the course. Often a players slide from form comes from this tendency when something changes in the swing.
I find it fascinating to watch protracer footage on Youtube and analyse the data behind the worlds best players. Often as a fan and as a coach we can get caught up in the style or hype surrounding a player at the peak of his powers.
But with Trackman we are afforded a direct and unbiased look at exactly what they are doing. If you want to hit it as far as Sergio you now know how fast your club head speed needs to be.
The most important thing you can do is get yourself measured. You cannot improve if you do not know what you do.
Have you reached your highest potential driving distance?
How much do you spin your driver?
Do you launch your irons at the correct height?
A final note worth mentioning is positive comparisons with elite players. Often we are left feeling hopeless after watching a Dustin Johnson drive or an Adam Scott iron. But a Trackman session might show up some numbers or aspects of your game that you have in common with tour players. This can be a great confidence builder.
Do you hit up on the ball with your driver like Mcilroy?
Do you have a good smash factor (like ALL tour players!)
Do you have a low launch angle on your wedges (like Steve Stricker?)
DISCLAIMER!: I am not a qualified psychologist, just a PGA pro 🙂
In this article I hope to offer my analysis of the golf psychology that enabled Garcia to win his first major. Few of us can hope to know the pressure of performance and expectation that being a world class golfer brings. I am very much writing this from the outside looking in, but perhaps it can provide a perspective that helps you with your own golf game.
Before the Masters, Sergio was almost at the top of every list of “the best players never to have won a major”. Many theories were discussed about how this could possibly be for a player of such obvious talent and amazing performances under tremendous pressure at the Ryder Cup.
The most common answer related to his “golf psychology” – his on course thought processes and his statistical weaknesses with the putter.
From his earliest days on tour we can see examples of Garcia being very negative. Whether a downbeat interview, a fit of anger or a lack of patience it is clear these things hinder achievement. The career of Jordan Spieth so far stands in stark contrast. He is rightly hailed as the grittiest player, the king of the comeback. He has surprised many with the nature of his performances.
Sergio’s temperament was often passed off as the flamboyance of an emotional character with high expectations and the pressure of a nation on his shoulders. But when saying in a press conference that he wasn’t good enough to win a major and that he was playing against ‘lady luck’ as well as the other players it was clear he was fighting some demons.
His interviews at the Masters all pointed towards ‘acceptance’. He repeatedly stated the massive, positive influence of the woman in his life Angela Akins. We can only presume that he realised how lucky he was. He didn’t need the major to make his life great.
Some self reflection perhaps made him realise what a privilege it was to be considered one of histories best ball strikers and to have played a substantial part in so many Ryder Cups.
It appears subtle, but playing with desire versus a need can make a big difference. Apply this to the next time you are on the first tee. Do you feel pressure to avoid the embarrassment of a bad tee shot. Are you telling yourself you NEED to hit it good. Or are you really focused on a positive outcome? Fear versus hope?
Do you think this was the difference for Sergio?
NEVER GIVE UP
Sergio turned pro as a teenager and nearly won a major against Tiger in 1999! That is almost 20 years ago. He was breaking par and setting course records around Europe years before that as a junior!
In other words he has felt elite, as one of the worlds best for a long time. But he never reached the expectations of others and perhaps his own.
20 years is a long time to stick with what you know. Here are some things he didn’t do but many around him were doing or things the golfing press thought he should.
He didn’t go crazy in the gym and add tonnes of muscle
He didn’t change his equipment too often
He didn’t change his unique swing (massively laid off)
He didn’t change coaches (still taught by his father)
He didn’t sabotage his career with drink, drugs or off course scandal
He didn’t injure himself
He didn’t quit
How long will you persevere in your attempts to reach your goals?
How will you reach those goals? Never give up – who knows what is around the corner for you?
KEEP YOUR COOL
Getting flustered on the course is something every golfer has done. Frustration, perfectionism, bad luck and competitors performances can cause us to react in a very negative way.
From throwing his shoe down the fairway to swinging his club like an axe in a bunker, Sergio is no stranger to emotion on the course. This would often manifest itself at the sharp end of a leaderboard in major tournaments.
Indeed many commentators on Twitter predicted his inevitable and impending implosion at Augusta. They were quick to tweet enthusiastically when Sergio hit the trees on the 13th and looked set to finish the hole with a significant to deficit to the unflappable Rose.
But he did something different. He took his medicine. He did not curse his bad luck for clipping a branch on the dogleg. He did not project forward mentally about what this meant for his chances at winning. His answer in the press conference is worth quoting in full:
Q. If I asked you of what you are most proud this afternoon, would it be a shot or a hole or would it be a demonstration of your character?
Definitely demonstration of my character, and my mentality. You know, how positive I stayed even when things weren’t going that well on 10 and 11. So even on 13, I didn’t hit that bad a drive. I’ve been hitting that drive every day like a high cut. This drive was probably going three yards left of the ones I’ve hit the other three days, and unfortunately it hit the tree and went in the bush. But even that, you know, in the past, I would have‑‑ I would have started going, you know, at my caddie, and oh, you know, why doesn’t it go through and whatever (laughter). But you know, I was like, well, if that’s what is supposed to happen, let it happen. Let’s try to make a great 5 here and see if we can put a hell of a finish to have a chance. And if not, we’ll shake Justin’s hand and congratulate him for winning. So I think that thatI’ve been doing very well throughout the whole week, and it’s something I need to keep improving and keep getting better at it.
Why not review your previous competitive events. How could you have reacted differently to your bad shots? How much difference could it have made to your score? The beauty of golf is that only you will know. There is no black and white answer.
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
This is perhaps not as important as the above topics but it is still very relevant. Some have admonished Garcia for missing crucial putts on 16 and 18. It would be easy as a casual observer to think that Sergio won despite his putting.
He certainly didn’t hole as many putts as Rickie Fowler during the week but he averaged 1.65 versus 1.68 (for the field) putts per green in regulation. He also only had one 3 putt for the week, a hugely impressive statistic under the greatest of pressure. A four round tournamentis often compared to a marathon. In that sense we can say that Garcia putted well enough to let his ball striking do the talking.
He played to his strengths. You cannot avoid putting as you can with other facets of the game (ie yardages, club selection, shot shaping). But you can avoid unessecary pressure putts by having a speed on your putts that leaves tap ins as much as possible. (There were no signs of impatient firm putts.)
Another way might be in his strategic choices with the long game – hitting to certain parts of the green for easier approach putts and perhaps a more aggressive strategy on par 5s.
This approach can be employed mentally aswell. It means managing expectations. How can you apply this to your golf? Avoiding what areas of your game will yield the best score?
The most common mistakes I see with normal golfers in pro-ams are too much use of the driver, never planning out the ideal hole for them and far too much ambition around the green. What do you feel you could do to manage the weaknesses in your game?
Get in touch if you would like to discuss the above. I hope they cause you to analyse your game in a fresh and objective way. Developing skills is one aspect of performance. What can you do to make it happen on the course?
So that has to be the best tournament I have watched in a long time! I’m not normally one to watch tonnes of golf on TV, but I was absolutely glued to the screen for this.
The course was setup difficult so anything could happen and it was the highest quality leaderboard in recent memory.
In this blog I won’t attempt the job of a paid journalist. There are some great articles out there about this amazing tournament. Here I hope to convey Sergio’s play from a coaches perspective. So there will be some analysis of the swing, decision making and psychology of golfs newest major winner!
My favourite article has to be this one by Golf Digest:
Despite losing the playoff Justin Rose has gained many fans for his grace in missing out on what surely has to be the most special of prizes. It wasn’t only his choice of words, but also how genuine he was. So many interviews in the sports world are pointless, cliche ridden rubbish. It can be tough to have perspective and composure immediately after an adrenaline fuelled battle.
But Justin is able to navigate the horrible feelings of losing and give an interview he can be proud of.
Really enjoy the fresh and honest perspective these guys bring to golf. You absolutely have to follow them on Twitter too…lots of laugh out loud moments! After this podcast perhaps check out one of their Mcilroy editions.
Trackman has undoubtedly changed the game of golf. It uses military radar tracking technology to provide amazingly detailed accurate information about impact and the ball flight.
It has taken away so much of the guesswork and opinion that divided golfers and coaches for so many years. It has removed the mystery from what is required to achieve a certain level of performance.
In this introduction to TRACKMAN I won’t cover every single feature and benefit – just give you a flavour of its importance for your game. Here is an action plan for getting the most from Trackman:
WHAT ARE YOU DOING
Trackman creates masses of data for every shot. It is not your job as the player to analyse this or to understand the details. But if you are to improve it is important to record your performance. With a coaches help this will provide you with confidence that you are improving your abilities even if you haven’t put it all together for a great 18 holes.
Any swing change probably creates a different looking good or bad shot. By recording your swing it is very easy for the coach to see why.
Popular examples may be checking your swing speed or how much you hit down on the ball (attack angle).
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO
Look at the image below – there are a lot of different numbers here. Many amateurs get very focused on one or two of these numbers when searching for improvement. Sometimes this works but more often than not it can create another set of problems.
The best way to think of all the data is like a language. It takes time to become fluent and understand the implications of changing something in the swing. (Trackman University is a great free online resource for understanding things in better detail).
A good first lesson or clubfitting with Trackman should quickly show your least optimised areas. For instance you may have great club speed but dont generate the distance you should. Is your spin rate correct for your club?
HOW YOU CAN DO IT
Making changes or improvement happens much faster with the aid of TRACKMAN. Video is always helpful but it does not provide enough feedback at impact. Things are simply moving so fast at that point.
Lets say I am trying to slice it less, I might be looking to change my clubpath and swing more towards the target rather than left of it. A normal clubpath for a slicer is -14 degrees. On every single shot I can check this number as I work on changes. This instant feedback gives me confidence I am doing the right thing as it is very common to lose your consistency when you first make any change. It is sure to feel very strange.
To ensure you work on the correct changes it is always best to enlist the help of a professional coach! Make sure you communicate with them effectively – let them know what kind of golfer you are. Are you Dustin Johnson and 100% feel with no interest in how it all works or are you a Padraig Harrington who needs to know everything?!
TAKING IT TO THE COURSE
A lesson or practice session with Trackman can be very valuable. Research has shown that some of its features provide the closest possible environment to that of pressure on the golf course.
A vital piece of analysis to carry out before aiming to play your best golf is to look at your shot pattern. For example hit fifteen 8 iron shots to a target. Trackman will show you that your average might be 8 yards short and 12 yards right. This info helps you to employ a better strategy on the course.
It is a common mistake for golfers to plan for only their best shots and not their normal or average shot.
Trackman Combine is a feature that gives you a score based on a number of different shots. It takes around half an hour to complete (click here for the official guide to COMBINE). Another neat feature is the ability to compare yourself to other golfers on international leaderboards.
This type of practice creates an environment of pressure. There is a consequence to every shot – your performance is recorded. Psychologically its similar to the course – each score is recorded. The pressure will never be as high or it will never be as important as a good round of golf but it is fantastic preparation.
Trackman also has a simpler “challenge” feature. Pick one distance and receive a score based on the accuracy of a number shots. Its fantastic for working on a specific weakness or for challenging a friend.
I love how these features reward distance control – it doesn’t award any points for hitting a particular club a long way. When viewed in these terms it is easy to see how shorter hitters like Jim Furyk have had such a stellar career – it may not look as impressive on TV but these guys can score!
I will discuss other features of Trackman in the future but I hope you enjoyed this look into what makes it such a popular tool. I’m struggling to think of a tour player in recent history who has not credited a launch monitor throughout their development.
But as a club golfer there is no need to worry about the complex information that is sometimes discussed by the games elite. Think of Trackman as the most honest caddy you could ever have! How far do you hit it? What’s your average? Where could you improve the most? These questions are all definitively answered with Trackman.
Would love to hear about your experiences with Trackman during lessons or club fittings!