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  • Writer's pictureCarol Alford

Become a Detective

Most golfers I know are searching for the magic solution - how to reduce their handicap and get rid of those bad shots in the round that cost so dearly. They only come to me when they've tried everything else, such as purchasing new clubs or having golf lessons. When I begin to work with a client whose goal is to improve, I always start our conversation with "tell me about your strengths and weaknesses". For some this can be quite a challenge, they simply don't know. Whilst others may say, its my driving that's erratic, or I find myself 3-putting too many times. Whatever the answer, I'll ask if they have any analysis to confirm their suspicions. Quite often there will be none and I'm sure if I asked any of you reading this article to produce yours, many would not have the information either. That's not a dig I'm just stating reality. I know for many players the idea of capturing statistics on their game fills them with dread. However, if you are serious about improving your game, you need to start capturing information, to gain a clear understanding on your strengths and weaknesses. Capturing the data will help you to identify where you're leaking shots and believe me, its not always where you think it is. Recently I was talking with a golfer who was frustrated with his game. He said that he felt he was hitting the ball well but not seeing this reflected in his scores. During our conversation he said "I drove the ball really well today, I was hitting it miles". Intrigued I got him to delve deeper by talking me through some of the holes. It transpired the distance hit was long, but many of his drives didn't hit the fairway, instead they veered off to the left, forcing him to play a recovery shot. When we totalled the number of recovery shots taken, he was surprised to find this had cost him 6 shots in the round. Armed with this knowledge he was able to go for a lesson with his swing coach to work on improving his technique to remove his slice. Likewise saying you 3 putt too often will not give you the information you are looking for. Instead take some time to analyse the putts you missed, you maybe surprised to find trends in your putting stroke that you were blissfully unaware of. For example record where the putt is going or finishing up i.e. are you leaving them too short or running way past the hole. Are you missing the hole to the left or right? Do you find reading puts with breaks difficult? Becoming a detective and capturing the statistics will reveal a clearer picture so you can begin to work on a solution to improve. I've known clients who were reluctant at first to capture the statistics, but over time seeing the results it brought, they began to enjoy the process searching out solutions to improve their game. Understanding your biggest misses can be a real eye opener, it was for me. My wedge play was letting me down and I was aware this was costing me shots each time I played. It was only when I began to track my statistics that I noticed a trend of missing the green or pin to the left. After tinkering with my swing and not getting results I had a lesson with my golf pro and showed him my data. We went out on the course so he could see the typical shot I was making where he identified a mistake in my set-up. I was sitting back on my heels each time I went to hit a wedge into the green. Had I not collected the data, I wouldn't have noticed this trend and after a lesson I was able to rectify my weakness. My advice is don't be put off by the prospect of capturing statistics on your game, start off small. Capture information on just one area to begin with, pick an area you feel is not working for you, such as your putting. Make a note of where you miss the putts and look for any trends. Capture the information over a few rounds to get a good sample. Then armed with your information talk with your coach and look at some exercises to resolve the weaknesses you find. It only take a few minutes after you've played, to capture the data. Make it easier by creating a template to document your information. The short time taken to record the information could save you a life-time of angst and frustration. Give it a go this weekend and let me know how you get on. If your would like more information on these techniques please contact me to arrange a session

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