While my research and work with Pro Golf Synopsis is largely focused around analyzing Tour data, the objective behind the research was to understand the game better and to be able to apply the information to all golfers.
I feel that 2013 Pro Golf Synopsis will delve more into the helping all golfers with their game. In this series, I will examine the tournament that I plan on playing in using my research data.
Last year was a bit difficult for me. I made some major strides in my ballstriking, but right before the two tournaments I played in (FSGA Amateur and FSGA Mid-Amateur); my swing fell apart with the driver. In both tournaments I struck the irons quite well, but a case of the snap hooks with the driver killed me in both tournaments. In the FSGA Amateur qualifier, I simply could not get off the tee until the 14th hole. In the Mid-Amateur qualifier, it took me six holes to start hitting the driver. But, those first six holes along with putting issues and some bad breaks prevented me from qualifying.
Since those tournaments I’ve made some adjustments to my swing and my equipment, most notably the change in my driver specifications. The driver is now ¾” shorter than the old driver. It is heavier in static weight with more weight in the shaft. I’ve also altered my irons going to the Wishon 575MMC model and have matched the Balance Index with those clubs. And at this current time, I believe I will stick with my new YAR putter.
For this year, I am going to only play in the Mid-Am qualifier. This year’s FSGA Amateur qualifier is at a private course. While I think the FSGA does a top notch job, perhaps better than any state golf association in the country; I don’t like the fact that the qualifiers are at a private club.
The Mid-Am will be held again at Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes. We played the qualifier there last year. It played to roughly 6,900 yards as they moved the tees up on a few holes. I shot a 78 (43 on the back nine which I played first, 35 on the front nine). It’s a Tom Fazio design that is a private club, but one can get tee times to at TeeTimesUSA.com.
One of the mistakes I made in 2012 was that I felt that since I play to a +1 handicap that in order for me to take my game to the next level, I would need to work on my Danger Zone play the most, then my putting and then my driving. After doing more research in actual amateur events with the help of a friend of mine, an Economics professor, we started to that as the handicaps get higher the more important driving becomes and the less important Danger Zone play becomes. Putting is roughly the second most important part of the game towards improving a score regardless of handicap.
For a golfer like myself that does not have a high handicap, the difference between driving, putting and Danger Zone play becomes almost minute if you are going to take the game to the next level. Driving is still the most important, but putting and Danger Zone play are much closer to it than say the 12 handicapper where improving their driving will have a much larger influence on their improvement in scores. I ended up placing so much importance on Danger Zone play that I neglected issues with my driver too much. Had I been one of the most effective players in the field in either qualifier off the tee; I would have likely qualified for both tournaments.
As I mentioned, the big issue with the driver last year was the snap hooks. Between the 2 qualifiers, I counted 11 snap hook type shots out of 28 drives. I ended up with 9 impeded shots on those 28 drives as well. With that said, it’s a testament to my ability with the irons as I was able to make it competitive despite driving the ball about as bad as I have ever driven the ball off the tee.
The shortening of the driver has helped tremendously with improving the accuracy and precision off the tee. And on average, I hit the ball further off the tee with the shorter driver since the launch angle and spin rate has improved. My swing has improved as well. My bad miss now is usually a steered block cut. Lately, I have been hitting that about once a round and then I have to recover. I do think that as I work on some of the mechanics that will become less frequent. My irons play is decent and I really like my putting with the YAR putter, but it’s too small of a sample size to judge right now.
I also feel like the change of my ‘home course’ is very beneficial. It’s like Dr. Rob Bell says about practice, you need to make it more difficult than tournament time. If you can do that, then playing the tournament becomes a breeze. Walkabout Golf Club is one of the most difficult courses in all of Florida, IMO. I would stack up the difficulty of holes #1 thru #12 against any of the first 12 holes on any course in Florida. Especially when the wind is blowing. I have found that this is beneficial when I play other courses because Walkabout GC demands nothing less than a quality tee shot on 8 different holes (#1, #2, #4, #6, #8, #9, #12, #18). It has 4 extremely difficult par-3’s and the course is plenty long (7,146).
In the next part of the series I will examine the strategy behind the course.