Sunday, August 28, 2011

Keeping Statistics to Track Improvement

How do you track your game?  Do you really know what causes you to make bogies?  Can you clearly see the areas of your game that need improvement?  Do you have a grasp of your strengths and weaknesses?  One way to know your game is to keep statistics and compile them to see true percentages and trends.  Here is a sample of the stats you can keep to track your game.

Any scorecard can be used to keep statistics by using the boxes below your score for additional data.

Date, Course, Par
Score, Fairways Hit, Greens Hit, Putts
Up & Down Chances from within 50 yards and Bunker Chances

From the numbers you compile from these simple stats, you can gather a lot of helpful information.  Here is an explanation of how you can use these numbers to help you learn more about your game after each and every round.

How to Use Your Stat Compilation:

The beginning is very straightforward.  It includes the date, course and par played.  This is important so you can view your scoring historically.

Next, you will keep your hole by hole score.  From this, you can keep track of your scoring vs. par, your scoring vs. par on par 5's, par 4's, and par 3's.  You can keep an average score that is updated each time you play.

Fairways hit is very simple.  Simply put an X in the box under the score if you hit the fairway and either a "R" or an "L" if you miss the fairway right or left.  There are generally 14 fairways per round, so a simple spreadsheet xcel equation would be =sum(fairways hit)/sum(possible fairways).  If you hit 7 fairways tomorrow, your % would be .50.  If you want to check that out versus the pros on tour, go to PGA Tour Fwys Hit

You will do the same for Greens Hit.  Put an X in the next box down on the scorecard.  If you hit a great shot and get your approach within 15 feet of the hole, circle the X and we will use that statistic for a few things.  If you miss R or L record those.  We will add O for over the green or S for short of the green.  The direction you miss greens isn't overly important unless you truly aren't paying attention.  If you are consistently right or left of the green, you may need to work on alignment or something specific in your swing.  If you are short, you might be kidding yourself with how far you carry each club in your bag.

Nick Watney is #1 in Total Putting on the PGA Tour

The next stat is putting.  If you keep putting hole by hole, you can acquire a lot of data.  First, you can track your Putts on Greens in Regulation or PGIR.  Simply count the putts under the holes with X's marking green hits.  If, for example, you hit 9 greens and have 16 putts on those holes, you would have a PGIR score of 1.77.  This is a significant stat.  On the LPGA, 8 of the top 10 in PGIR are also in the top 35 on the money list.  Check it out on the LPGA's Statistics Page.

Julie Inkster is 11th in the P.G.I.R. stat and 33rd on the money list.

The next putting stat is PPR, which means putts per round.  It is obvious that the more greens you hit, the higher this number will probably be, but with that being said, it is a good indicator of progress throughout the year.  When your putting becomes great, you will see the number drop below 30, no matter how many greens you are hitting.

The final putting stat we will use is the conversion percentage when you hit your approach within 15 feet of the flag.  Fifteen feet is a random number to designate a good shot, but it is a distance that creates makeable birdie chances, so we will use it.  Simply count the number of putts below all your circled X's and equate them into an average.  For example, let's say you hit three approach shots into  15 feet and made birdie once.  You would have a 33% conversion rate of birdies.  The PGA Tour can actually track how close each player hits each approach shot, so instead of conversion rates, they keep track of the feet of putts made on each hole by each player.  Once again, we don't need that much information to improve our game. 

Up and down percentage is kept whenever you are within 50 yards of the green.  It doesn’t matter with which shot and by that I mean if you are hitting your 3rd on a par 5 from 25 yards in front of the green or just missed the green on a par 3, it counts as an up and down attempt.  An up and down attempt is successful if it is converted in two shots.  You could miss the green with your wedge and chip in and it would be counted as a successful up and down, not two up and down tries.  You can only have one up and down try per hole.  If you miss the green and are outside 50 yards or cannot play to the green, you don’t need to claim an up and down opportunity.  Anything hit from off the surface of the green is an up and down try, including putting from the fringe.  

The bunker stat is the same.  If you are within 50 yards of the green in a bunker, you have two shots to convert it to be successful.  Both of these stats are simple to keep.  Whenever you have a hole without an X on the green hit, you should look below for the number of putts.  If there is one putt, you converted an up and down.  If you would like more information, you might want to put a B for Bunkers, a C for Chips and a P for Pitches.  If you were outside 50 yards, a simple NC would designate that you had No Chance for an up and down.

Now we can start getting into some interpretive stats within your scoring.  The first and what I believe is the most important is the Bounce Back or BB.  On the PGA Tour, a bounce back is any hole above par followed by a hole below par.  In other words, on tour, you earn a bounce back if you go bogey-birdie on consecutive holes.  For our purposes, we simply want to right the ship, so our goal will be to make a par or birdie following a hole above par.  Whenever you see a hole with a score of bogey or higher, the next hole represents a BB opportunity.  If that hole is a par or under par, you are 1/1.  If you follow a bogey with another bogey, you are 0/1.  Golfers who can't get over their mistakes will often string bogeys along and will have poor bounce back scores.  Because on tour they have to make birdie to have a BB, a great percentage is 30%.  For amateur golfers, 80% is a great percentage and definitely within reach of most players.

You can keep track of the number of birdies you make, the number of one putts you have during a round or your ability to recover from trouble. All of these are stats that reflect positive things happening on the course.  The last one, the ability to recover is kept by noting scores made when you record a NC from a poor tee shot.  Following an NC with a par or bogey is considered a success and worth noting.

You can also keep track of mistakes, such as the number of three putts or the number of holes of above bogey.  These two stats aren't very positive but they will give you an idea of how you can quickly lose shots on the course.

With a simple Excel spreadsheet, you can use graphs or charts to keep track of approach shots.  

All of these statistics are quite easy to track using a simple Google spreadsheet or Microsoft Excel or Numbers in Mac.  If you would like help with a spreadsheet to keep track of your game, simply email me and I will share a google doc that is set up to record your stats.

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