Getting better at anything doesn’t happen without a “stock-take on what is working and what is not”.
Improving your golf and shooting lower scores, requires a frequent observation (after each round) of what part of your game is costing you shots, then coming up with a solution for making that part of your game better.
Score: firstly, right down in a notebook or playing diary what you scored and how you felt you played…
- Date, game-type, score total, front-9 and back-9 scores
- How you felt you played – damn-good, good, average or bad
Key Statistics: now we think about and write on paper (or enter in your digital device) the key statistics for the “parts” of your game, like this:
- Fairways hit and with what club (put down D for driver or 3-W for 3-wood and so on; for example: Driver – 6/12 (6 fairways out of 12 hit)
- Put down greens-hit-in-regulation (enter with what club you hit the green with; a single number will do).
- Number of putts taken for each green and from what distance was the putt holed from. For example, hole 3 – 1-putt/12ft, or hole 7 – 2-putts/30ft
For an example, look at the photo above and two the right of an old “playing diary” or mine.
Now drill down further to see where you missed your shots:
1a. Driving, how many times was the driver hit? How many fairways were hit? What sides of the fairway were your “misses” on?
1b. Other tee shots on par 4’s and par 5’s long-irons, hybrids, or woods; same as above, fairways hit, and what sides did you miss your shots on (you can put a “tick” for “hit”, L for left and R for right)
2. Mid and high-irons into greens: how many hit, how many misses, what side of the green did you miss on for each hole
3. Pitch-shots (25 yards up to 70 yards): how many did you hit, did you hit them close to the hole, did you execute them well?
4. Chips, small-pitches and bunker-shots from around the green: Did you hit the ball close to the hole or if was an extremely tough shot – did you execute to the shot well? Think about it
5.Putting: Did you miss any short-putts under 5 feet (were they on a particular side of the hole); did you hit your long putts to within a few feet; did you “look up early” on any putts; were you feeling confident. Look on further down the page for the 4-R’s of putting.
Your tendencies and getting ready for you next round
Okay, now we look even deeper into why you missed shots and what you did well.
Write down what you did well and what you were working on during the round – to make this happen.
For example: “Drove it great”, worked on “waiting a little on my transition” or “worked on visualizing my shot more; really seeing the intended line – then hitting to that line – using my swing”.
For your putting it might be something simple like: “reacted to my line without delay,” or “worked on picking my spot, then rolling the ball over it”, what ever works for you.
Keep what works and use it again and again.
What you did poorly?
1. Did your miss-shots for: driver, other woods, long-irons, short irons, pitching, chipping, bunker play and putting. Were any of these misses from a tendency that you know about?
You may “hit-from-the-top,” or you may play to fast or too slow, or you may set-up closed to the target – thereby encouraging a big in-to-out swing, or an “over-the-top swing”, or you may get negative thoughts on a particular hole or with a particular club, you may have: “pulled, thinned or chunked a pitch-shot.”
Putting comes down to the 4 R’s… (plus – get your eyes over the ball, then forget about it).
R1 – Read: did I read the putt thoroughly; a specific line, and if it was downhill, did I read from the side and behind to realize the true extent of the slope, this gives you a different perspective – and so many club-golfers three-putt because they have not done their “homework” and paid the “respect” a tough putt demands.
R2 – Routine: did you go through your normal number of looks at the hole, did you do your normal “shuffle into the ball”, was your mind focused?
R3 – React: did you “react” without delay to the target/feel generated in the “reading” at the end of you routine? [R1]
R4 – Review: did you immediately review how you went on the last green you putted on, identify any problem, then put the “solution into action” on the very next green? The problem will be found in the first 3R’s.
If you have been playing for a while, you probably know your technical and or mental deficiencies.
If you do know your bad tendencies, go practice or make a commitment to working on a solution/key for them.
Note: many times you don’t need to physically do a lot of practice if you know what one of your tendencies is, just “consciously” thinking about the problem and then “doing it right next time” you play works fine.
If you want more information on improving your putting and don’t yet have The Truth About Putting system, check it out.
Technical issue and long-term improvement:
If your technique is poor in a certain part of your game, for example: you fan the club open on your takeaway and the club goes inside – or you have a bad grip, unless this works for you (like you recover somehow in your swing), you need to go and physically get on track through multiple practice sessions/week (do some with a coach too if you are not a very low-handicap player).
This takes time and effort.
Without changing much technically, right now you can go 5-8 shots better than your handicap if you are “PLAYING the game with a relaxed, confident, free, yet focused mind”.
Without any big technical “project”, be on top of the 4R’s of putting (everyone can become a good putter), be hitting good round-the-green shots, be visualizing the path the ball is going to take on all shots, and use that vision and feel to fuel your swing. Make a smooth transition from the top of your swing, and be relaxed – yet focused.
Checklist, and tools to enter you statistics and thoughts
So here are the steps to take – your checklist:
- Write down your score (include back-9 and front-9 scores), weather conditions (windy, rainy, hot, cold, fine)
- Enter you keys stats – e.g. fairways hit and missed, and with what club (use a: tick, X, L or R), greens hit in regulation, putts taken (from what distance did you putt from)
- Drill down and write about where and why you missed shots – or hit good memorable shots
- Come up with a solution to the problem or continue to do what you are doing – if playing well. If it is an old tendency – a bad habit, just bringing it into your mind then using a tried solution will work fine. You may want to go practice the solution on the putting or chipping greens or on the practice fairway or even play nine holes outside of competition.
- Attach a simple quote/key to each part of your game… Now you have come up with the solution, maybe you have just thought about (as mentioned above) or maybe you have also “practiced the solution/key”. Write the solution/key down; make it simple and easy to remember, for example: “react to the target”; “pick my spot/line then react to it” [with putter swing], or “see the ball-flight, drive it down the line”. These are similar examples to what I use at any one given time.
So for each part of your game you have a quote or two. Write them down in your notebook, revise them when you arrive at the golf course in your car, and even write them down on a small piece of paper (it should only be a few quotes) and put it in your pocket (or write one or more on the back of your hand).
I can use a quote or a mental-key for months or years, if I know it settles me and helps me play good golf.
Tools to enter your stats and thoughts
Nowadays you can enter your scores into a mobile phone and track your stats, but numbers are useless unless you go through the process of why you hit good or poor shots.
An excellent golf game analysis tool is shot-by-shot software.
I have spoken with the creator, he tells me that over 120 teaching pro’s demand there thousands of students use the software to keep track of what is going well and what part of their games need attention.
Peter, the creator, went from a 14 handicap to a 1! after better analyzing his game.
How it works
You enter in your putts, greens and fairways hit, chips and bunker shots etc, and the software creates very easy to understand graphs of how you did in the said areas of your game compared to other golfers that play off the same handicap.
Now you are in a position to pinpoint what part of you game needs works. The software keeps all your rounds records so you can see patterns in play over time.
There is also a free iPhone app; you enter your numbers then forward the data to the computer software.
Tip: write down what was going well and poorly (as discussed in this article) at that time that your averages were very good and you have the capability to draw on the exact keys and mindset you had when you where playing well. Implement these positives into your game and you become a better player – permanently.
So this entire process – summarized – goes like this, write down or enter your:
- Key stats
- Your misses
- Your thoughts about good and poor shots
- Solution to the problem
- Write down quote/key for each part of your game to use next time you play or practice. This becomes a mantra for each time you have a particular shot
You can use a phone app a computer or playing diary to put in your key numbers, then – you want to WRITE about what I just mentioned; what is working, what’s not, what needs work; I personally enter in how I was thinking on particular shots, what I need to practice and what key-thoughts I’m going to take and use next time I play (starting a golf-instruction blog – like you are reading, will definitely clarify your thoughts!)
So there we go, to improve – be tracking your numbers and your thoughts, identify tendencies/bad-habits, and work on a solution. Take the solutions (keys), right them down, think about them before you play, then go and use them.
Play, Analyze, Plan, Prepare (mental and or physical practice – if needed), then repeat the process.
Go for it!
Let me know (via the comments below) how you analyze your game and what you got out of this article.