Thursday, October 29, 2015

Martin Chuck with Pelvic Awareness on GEARS

Here's a video from Tour Striker creator, Martin Chuck, discussing pelvis awareness and how to apply it to your own golf swing using the GEARS computerized system:


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Gabe Writer Vlogcast with Andrew Fischer - Episode 1

Here's the debut vlogcast from Gabe Writer with PGA Tour Fitness Coach Andrew Fischer.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lucas Wald with Brandel Chamblee

Here's a video from Lucas Wald showing his work that he did with Brandel Chamblee.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Short Game Practice and Concepts with James Ridyard

Here's a video from short game guru, James Ridyard, showing some practice and short game concepts in action:


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Accelerating Putter with Preston Combs

Here's a video from golf instructor, Preston Combs, discussing the acceleration profile of different golfers with their putting strokes using the SAM Puttlab and the new SAM Puttlab 3D view:


Monday, October 19, 2015

The Search for Flatstick Nirvana - Part VIII (10.19.15)

Part I -

Part II -

Part III -

Part IV -

Part V -

Part VI -

Part VII -

What may seem like downright shilling for his site, I’m genuinely amazed by what I learn each week on David Orr’s Flatstick Academy Web site. While the putting results are still a work in progress, the key term is ‘progress.’ Rome wasn’t built in a day and guys like Jimmy Walker and Aaron Baddeley just didn’t wake up one day with that ability to putt. But, the point of this series of posts is to find that ‘Billy Baroo’ and not only am I improving my putting stroke mechanics, but I’m starting to learn more about finding that putter that will help me best fit a putter to my stroke and allow that putter to become the ‘Billy Baroo’ in my bag.

From my research in statistics on Tour, I’ve found that putting from 3-15 feet matters most. And if you want to refine it even more, putting from 5-15 feet matters the very most. Occasionally you can get that good putter that struggles from 3-5 feet. But, that’s more the exception than the rule.

But what I see out of the best putters is that they tend to show up on the greens that have the lowest make percentages like Pebble Beach and Riviera. Torrey Pines has a low make percentage, but the course is so long that it often times counts out long hitters. However, great putters like Brandt Snedeker and Ben Crane have had success and Tiger has dominated the course (Jason Day won there this past season and he’s an excellent putter as well). And what these courses have in common is more undulated greens.

One of the things that David has discussed on his site is the different kinds of strokes one can employ by how they ‘power’ the putting stroke. I have decided to start using a ‘lead side’ stroke and as David has pointed, it tends to favor making right-to-left breaking putts. There’s a tendency to push the left-to-righters and if a player struggles with the right-to-left breaking putts, it’s likely that it is due to an under-read of the putt. With AimPoint, I don’t worry too much about under-reading a putt.

And having practiced a lot of clock drills, I’ve found that I am more likely to push those left-to-right putts:

The only difference in my clock drill is that I use 10 golf balls instead of 4. It really helps determining the differences in the break.

Well before I got into David’s site, I had felt that the best putters on Tour were the best at making break putts, particularly sidehill and downhill breaking putts. And that’s because the courses like Riviera and Pebble feature a lot of breaking putts.

After reading his articles on the Web site, it has only strengthened my confidence in that belief. It’s very likely for any type of stroke to have a bias to struggle on a certain kind of putt and I think the best putters have figured out how eliminate those biases while the other putters have started to compensate for their inability to make a certain type of breaking putt.

Obviously, I think stroke mechanics and practice are involved. But, I still want to find a putter that will make pushing those left-to-right putts less likely. With the Edel Torque Balanced putter, it’s fairly light (345 grams) it is a blade style putter, but it has the weight removed from the toe:

So I think in general it has features to make it less likely to push the putt. However, I believe that the grip (PURE Grips midsize grip) may be a little too large for my right hand which can cause some pushes.

Another great video from David was posted this past week with regards to putter fitting and the length and lie to fit a putter.

There were 2 things I didn’t know until now:

1. You need to fit for length by physical makeup the golf. Not only by height and wingspan, but also by the anatomy and flexibility of your shoulders, elbows and thumbs.

2. You can have a putter too short for you that causes your arms to be too straight and when your arms are too straight for your physical make, those straight arms can increase tension throughout your arms, shoulders and neck. I was only taught before that having the elbows flexed too much would cause tension and that ‘straight arms’ would reduce tension. But now David is showing that is often not the case.

It’s funny because I can pinpoint a lot of my putting issues to when I started to go with putters that were 34” or shorter and I used to putt better with 35” putters. The ‘straight arms’ putting was all the craze.

In fact, let’s take a look at these incredible putters and their elbow bend in their putting.








It doesn’t mean that the straight arms can’t work as we take a look at some of these great putters:




So, IMO, both styles can work, but the bent arm style is far more prevalent than the straight arm style which is contrary to what many instructors and instruction books are telling us.

What got me was that I never knew that straight arms could cause tension and it would explain my issues with getting yippy once I went to a shorter putter. Fortunately, David shows how we can fit length properly. Unfortunately, my putter is only 34” long and needs to be about 35” long (David showed fitting himself for length and he came out to 34” and he’s only about 5’8” or 5’9” tall). When I started to try and fit myself as he prescribes in the video, I had to stand a little closer to the ball. But once I did, the tension went away in my arms despite having more elbow bend.

So the next steps in finding the Billy Baroo may be getting a slightly smaller grip from the midsize PURE Grip and finding something about 1 inch or so longer.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kelvin Miyrahia on Matthew Fitzpatrick Golf Swing

Here's a video from Kelvin Miyahira going over the swing from 2015 British Masters Champion, Matthew Fitzpatrick:


Monday, October 12, 2015

The Search for Flatstick Nirvana - Part VII (10.12.15)

I had actually written up this post last week and was scheduled to post it up today, but I started to read some articles and videos on David Orr’s Flatstick Academy ( and I believe I’ve made a major breakthrough in my putting.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not very technical or mechanical when it comes to golf. I’m very feel oriented (as I believe every golfer is) and I like details (which I don’t believe every golf cares for). It’s very important for me to not only figure out what to do going forward, but to determine what I did poorly in the past, what I did well in the past and what I did ‘in between’ in the past and why. When I get all of that information, I start to improve by leaps and bounds and start to ‘own’ what I’m doing. I have hopes that I have finally figured out many of those things I did with my putting stroke in the past after coming across some of the articles on David’s site.

First, let’s take a look at my SAM Puttlab report that I did with John Graham back in January. I was using a custom Edel putter during this time and rarely practiced my putting. This stroke was awful:

At the time, I thought the stroke was awful because it was going left with an open face. But, the stroke is more awful because of other things which I will get to. I will not try to give away what is on David’s Web site, but I learned that this is a similar stroke pattern used by many great putters like Jimmy Walker and Loren Roberts.

Here’s my report in October with the Edel Torque Balanced Putter (which I aimed at address much better).


So, we see a very different putter path, going from 2.1 degrees to the left in January to 1.6 degrees to the right in October. That’s a change of 3.7 degrees in 10 months. The face is now closed as well. The consistency is down a bit when it comes to face impact and putter path from January. Although overall the stroke in October was FAR BETTER (again, overall) than it was in January.

Here’s the overall stroke pattern in January:

The dashed line represents the backstroke. The straight (un-dashed) line is the thru-stroke. As we can see in January, the backstroke is very much going back down the line without much of an arc.

Here’s the stroke from October.

Now we a much bigger arc inward with the follow thru going more down the line or a little outside (inside-to-out). We can also see that the follow thru is shorter. This despite in January I was hitting about 7 foot putts and in October I was hitting about 12-foot putts.

Here was the timing of the stroke back in January:

I feel the key numbers are backswing time and time to impact. That is the time it takes to go from the address position to impact. It depends on who you talk to, but the general consensus is the Tour average is about 1.0 seconds (or 1,000 milliseconds) to go from address to impact.

Here’s the timing of the stroke in October.

As we can see, the stroke gets a little quicker in October by about 45 milliseconds.

But the real key is the acceleration profile.

Here’s a diagram that Erik Barzeski ( created a while ago to show what poor versus good versus great acceleration profiles look like:


You can find the rest of the fantastic article by Erik here:

In essence, since we are using a pendulum like motion with the putter and we want to hit up on the ball, the peak speed and acceleration will be at the bottom of the pendulum. And that means that the best acceleration profiles will have the golfer reaching peak speed and acceleration (speed over time) BEFORE impact.

Here’s Loren Roberts’ acceleration profile:

Roberts has a funny stroke because he hits the peak acceleration and speed before impact pretty clearly and then accelerates again well after impact. But that’s because he has a very long and very slow putting stroke. In order to keep the follow thru as long as Roberts does, I believe he has to re-accelerate after impact. Probably tough to do, but all that matters is that he hits peak speed and acceleration prior to impact.

Here is Tiger Woods (from 2007):

Again, peak speed and acceleration prior to impact. And Tiger and Roberts have 2 completely different strokes. Tiger has much more arc and face rotation and is far quicker than Roberts’ stroke.

And here’s Paul Azinger’s:

I believe Azinger was using a belly putter on this stroke.

Here’s my awful stroke in January:


So, I worked on that diligently and later on started working with the Pelz Putting Tutor. And here’s my acceleration profile from October:

This is far better than it was in January. I would label this as somewhere between Barzeski’s ‘poor’ and ‘good.’ Still, it bothered me that I could not get the peak speed and acceleration prior to impact.

That is when I started to read David’s articles on cataloging putting strokes by how the golfer powers the stroke. I feel David’s work is about getting the arc and the face rotation to come close to matching (wider the arc more face rotation is needed) and having compatible biomechanical and neurological pieces to the corresponding arc and face rotation.

What I didn’t know are things like the arc of the backstroke doesn’t have to match the arc of the thru stroke, that there are different ways to reach a ‘great’ acceleration profile (peak speed and acceleration prior to impact) and how different strokes produce different paths, different face angles at impact and different impact dispersion (and different smash factors).

So thru reading the articles and watching the videos on David’s site, I started to piece together what went on:

- When I was a very good putter in college, I utilized a ‘lead side’ stroke that had compatible pieces to it.

- Eventually I started to read too much and listen to too many people and thought my backstroke needed to have more arc (and therefore more face rotation).

- I thought that I needed to get the face angle more square at impact (in January it was 0.5 degrees to the right)

- I then started to use my lead side to make the backstroke and the trail side to make the thru stroke (death to your acceleration profile).

- In January, I started to work on speeding up my backstroke in order to allow ‘gravity to do the work’ which is ill-advised with a lead side stroke

- I then started to use my lead hand to make the backstroke and used the trail arm to make the thru stroke, but over time I was starting to use more of my trail side to make that backstroke (more compatible). This produced a better overall stroke and a better acceleration profile. And the stroke started to resemble what you see out of trail side strokes (cataloged on David’s site).

- The problem now is that I don’t think the trail side stroke is for me. But I have started to develop pieces that work with a trailside stroke. So, I either need to continue to develop those pieces with a trail side stroke or work on the lead side stroke.

For now, I’ve decided to revert back to the lead side stroke. The good thing is now I understand the lead side stroke far better than I ever did even when I executed it very well. I just feel that I was likely a good putter in college because I had a good acceleration profile and trying to re-create a good acceleration profile with a stroke that is the exact opposite of what I used to do when I had a good acceleration profile is likely inadvisable.

So, how does that relate to finding my Billy Baroo?

David talks extensively about putters and their designs which includes things like head and hosel design along with weight and length and I can now see why I prefer a putter that felt heavier the shaft and why I putted well with the Ping B61 (head shape) and the Wilson 8802 (hosel design and shaft to head weight). And why I started putting so well with the Edel Torque Balanced putter. I went decided to switch back to the lead side stroke on Friday night and worked diligently with the Pelz Putting Tutor and on Saturday that was the best I’ve putted since July.

I hope to get another SAM Puttlab report, this time with the lead side stroke up soon.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Search for Flatstick Nirvana - Part VI (10.7.15)

Part I -

Part II -

Part III -

Part IV -

Part V -

I had come across David Orr’s Flatstick Academy Web site thru my interview on Tony Wright’s Podcast (

For those that don’t know, the irony of this is that David grew up about 15 minutes from my hometown in New York. At the time, David was playing the Ben Hogan Tour (now the Tour) and was an excellent ballstriker that struggled badly with the putter. In fact, David gave me a swing lesson when I was in 10th grade (one of only 2 lessons I ever had before I went to college).

Here is the Web site link to the Flatstick Academy. Membership is only $10 a month with no commitment. He updates the site every week with new videos and articles on putting.

I was a bit skeptical of the site in trying to determine what my issues were with putting and how to apply it to my putting. But, I’ve found that in particular the student lesson videos are extremely helpful because there is such a variety of golfers with different putting issues which have different symptoms and different plans for those problems that I started to determine what some of my issues were.

The other thing I really like about the is that you can see David’s influence from M.O.R.A.D., Stack and Tilt and The Golfing Machine in the sense how he has cataloged the biomechanics of the putting stroke and it’s not about what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but more about understanding the movements and trying to make biomechanical pieces of the entire putting process compatible.

One theme of David’s work is that we want the arc of the stroke and the face rotation to come close to ‘matching.’ If you have a wide arc, you’ll need more face rotation. If you have a small arc, you’ll need less face rotation and vice versa.

So, if you have a posture like Michelle Wie’s, it is compatible with a smaller arc and therefore less face rotation.

So if one utilizes the Wie stance and had a wider arc, then perhaps there is something they are doing biomechanically that is creating that wider arc such as how their arms are position at address. And I *think* David’s philosophy is to determine if the player needs to either change their arm position to have a narrower arc or change their posture to fit their arm position and arc.

And unlike a lot of other instruction in different areas of the game, David doesn’t have a particular preference. If you want to putt left hand low, so be it. Let’s figure out what the student has to do in order to putt better left hand low. Same with the armlock method, anchoring or whether you want to use a high MOI putter, blade putter, Anser style model, etc.

I do believe in golf that it is a more prudent way to learn by figuring out what the greats had in common. I think too much of swing instruction relies on looking at ‘the Tour average’ or even worse, looking at some player on Tour that ‘looks pretty’ instead of looking at a player that is actually an excellent ballstriker. We see a lot of Stuart Appleby swings on YouTube and he’s more or less a mediocre ballstriker, but we see very few swings of players like Jim Herman, Kevin Chappell and Charles Warren who are far more skilled ballstrikers.

With putting, I think there are FEWER similarities by the legitimately great putters compared to the swing similarities of the legitimately great ballstrikers. Carl Pettersson and Scott McCarron used the broomstick. Crenshaw used a blade with a very wide arc and a large backstroke. Loren Roberts actually cut across his putts (albeit slightly). Brandt Snedeker has a ‘wristy pop-stroke.’ Daniel Summerhays is much more hunched over than Jimmy Walker or Aaron Baddeley who has his forearms much more on plane than Walker. Therefore, I tend to believe it’s more important to understand all of the biomechanics. And David shows his influence from Geoff Mangum as he can thoroughly discuss neuroscience with putting. Combine that with his nearly 25 years of teaching, he actually knows how to teach golfers so he can take his knowledge and apply it to the student so they can implement it into their putting.


With that, I started to make some changes. I felt that I had the following issues with my putting:

1. I didn’t see the lines well and I was worried that my aim, which has usually been awful, was still poor.

2. I felt that I had a small arc type of stroke but had too much face rotation.

3. My backstroke was too slow.

I decided to change the following based on watching David’s videos on the Flatstick Academy:

  • Change my grip in hopes of reducing the amount of face rotation
  • Change the position of my elbows in hopes of increasing the stroke arc a little.
  • Make sure to keep my foot pressure stable and towards the ball of my left foot in hopes of avoiding a ‘cut-across’ stroke.

I felt my backstroke was too slow, but I didn’t know exactly what the timing of the backstroke was, so I wanted to get on a SAM Puttlab to get a confirmation. I then went to see Billy Ore at the PGA Village to get on his SAM Puttlab and see what he thought.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Search For Flatstick Nirvana - Part V (10.6.15)

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

I had taken a one week vacation and with being swamped with work coming back from vacation, I took a break from The Search for Flatstick Nirvana.

During this time I was at the PGA Tour Superstore trying some putters out while I was awaiting for them to put a new grip on.
  I tried out one particular putter and I was knocking almost everything I look at it with it.  5-footers, 25-footers, even 50-footers. I started to harken back to that day I tried out the Wilson 8802 on the practice green and was making everything with it and decided I had to buy THAT particular putter before somebody else did.  

The new putter? 

The Edel Torque Balanced E-3 model.

 I was actually introduced to the Torque Balanced putter by David Edel when he started to make the DeVincenzo series putter.
The idea is that the ‘face balanced’ putter design is not actually face balanced.  Check out this video discussing the subject.

The SeeMore putters do have toe hang to them, they just get ‘face balanced’ when you put them on plane.
  My guess is that it creates for a putter that fits well with a wider arc and more face rotation.  The Edel Torque Balanced series actually has the opposite of ‘toe hang.’  The putter actually hangs ‘toe up.’

They offer the current Torque Balanced models in one of these 3 designs:

I had only tried the mallet version (E-1) before since I felt my eye was better for the mallet version.  So, I happened to try out the E-3 version (blade) and fell in love with it.  It’s about as solid feeling of a putter as you can find. 
The Edel Torque Balanced putters can also be fit in the same way their custom style putters.  They can fit for aim as they can use one of the 3 head designs, change the sight dots and alignment lines and also offer 3 different shaft offsets.  They also have a black finish if preferred. 
When I brought the putter home and started to use it on the Pelz Putting Tutor I was not only getting it thru the gate far more often, but I went from hitting the left marble when I missed with the Anser style putter to hitting the right marble when I missed with the Edel putter.  I hit 50 putts a piece with my TaylorMade putter, my Ping B61 putter and a Edel Torque Balanced putter thru the Pelz Putting Tutor and here were the results.

Ping B61: 31 out of 50 = 62%

TaylorMade Ghost Daytona: 28 out of 50 = 56%

Edel E-3 Torque Balanced: 44 out of 50 = 88%

So, a massive improvement in launching the ball where I'm aiming which is one of the key 4 skills to putting.  

Have I found that Billy Baroo?  

Stay tuned...


Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Analysis of Jaime Diaz on Jordan Spieth

Here's an article on Golf Digest from Jaime Diaz and his analysis of Jordan Spieth's game and why he thinks that his game will make it tough to sustain for a lengthy period of time.

For starters, I have no real problem with this article from Diaz.  It's not a hatchet job nor is he tying to say something outlandish for the sake of grabbing Web site clicks (or ratings) which many sports writers tend to do.  It's an interesting subject (can Spieth sustain great success?) and he backs up his opinion with some well thought out facts.

The problem is that Diaz is not an educated and trained statistical analyst and it leads to some questionable conclusions from him.  Not to worry, it happens.  I'm more or less happy that people are using metrics which helps popularize a more accurate way of analyzing golf instead of using conjecture, ill-founded theories and myths.

Whereas Woods, for example, borrowed from golf’s tried-and-true formula for being a dominant player -- kill the par 5s, effectively shrinking par 72s to par 68s -- Spieth doesn’t have the power to rely on those kinds of easy birdies. Although he was first on the PGA Tour in percentage of birdie or better on par 4s, and second in that category on par 3s, he was 39th on par 5s.

The 'tried-and-true formula for being a dominant player' is to kill the par-4's...not the par-5's.  And that's exactly what Tiger did in his prime.  Here's a look at Tiger's par-4 scoring average rankings over his prime:

1997: 6th
1998: 12th
1999: 2nd
2000: 1st
2001: 9th
2002: 2nd
2003: 51st
2004: 3rd
2005: 1st
2006: 1st
2007: 1st

This is because Par-4 Scoring average has the strongest correlation to Adjusted Scoring Average than any of the other major scoring metric, far stronger than Par-5 scoring average.  That's because the Tour averages roughly 10.5 to 10.9 par-4's played per round.  Furthermore, par-4 play epitomizes the entire game of the golfer whereas Par-5 play is very much distance off the tee biased.  

Spieth’s way of going consistently low suggests sleight of hand. He’s not long (ranked 78th in driving distance with an average of 291.8 yards), nor particularly straight (80th in hitting fairways), and doesn’t hit a ton greens (49th). But Spieth still managed to finish fourth in strokes gained tee to green, which was even better than his rank (8th) in strokes gained putting.

There is some 'sleight of hand', but it's different than Diaz presents it.

For starters, Spieth is effectively longer than Diaz is giving him credit for.  Diaz is using the old measured driving distance which measures only 2 drives a round.  While it is still a valuable metric, a more valuable metric is Driving Distance - All Drives which are all drives measured by the ShotLink laser.

In Driving Distance - All Drives Spieth ranks 43rd in driving distance instead of 78th in measured drives.  So he is effectively longer because he uses the 'sleight of hand' of not laying up.  And that's part of the reason why he does not hit a ton of fairways; he's not laying up very often.

Also, Diaz's metrics do not consider the difficulty of the courses that Spieth plays when it comes to tee shots.  Spieth ended up ranking 23rd in Driving Effectiveness out of 184 players this season.  So he's not truly long with the driver, but he makes up for it by not laying up on the par-4's and is still a great driver of the ball and uses that driving to dominate the par-4's which is far more important than dominating the par-5's.

To me, Spieth’s best qualities evoke athletes from other sports. At the moment, his putting is eerily good. He led in several putting categories, but the stat that resonates most is his conversion rate of better than 25 percent on putts between 15 and 25 feet -- first on tour by a lot. 
This is Diaz's best argument, but it's marred by misleading terminology.  Yes, Spieth ranked 1st in make percentage from 15-25 feet.  But, leading by 'a lot' is misleading as Spieth made 27.19% of his putts from 15-25 feet while Jamie Donaldson finished second at 26.26%.  That's a difference of only 0.93%.

With that being said, putts from 15-25 feet is often a 'volatile' metric for most Tour players.  Most Tour players that putt well from 15-25 feet will be just as likely to putt poorly from 15-25 feet the next season and vice versa.  However, the top notch and bottom rung putters on Tour tend to have some consistency in their performance from 15-25 feet.  The top notch putters tend to consistently putt well from 15-25 feet and the bottom run players tend to consistently putt poorly from 15-25 feet.  So, one could argue that Spieth is a top notch putter overall and could consistently putt well from 15-25 feet.  On the other hand, my projections show a drop in putts made from 15-25 feet simply because over the years the leader from 15-25 feet has been more around 22%, not 27%+.  

It’s an ability that currently separates him from his peers in the same way NBA MVP Stephen Curry has separated from his.
I prefer to look at Spieth's ability to make such a high percentage of par putts from 5-15 feet and then his ability to make those birdie putts from 15-25 feet.  That's clutch golf.

Magical periods of putting among the game’s very best tend not to last beyond a few seasons, as Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson can attest. Even Woods, who made more bombs over a longer stretch than anyone, has seen his putting decline.

Trevino and Watson were unworldly, all-time great ballstrikers.  Watson had to develop the yips in order to see a 'dropoff' in his play and he still almost won a 6th British Open at the age of 60 years old despite playing with the yips.  And Watson was long.  I don't recall anybody ever claiming Trevino was a great putter.  Everybody that watched Palmer says he was incredibly long and I'm guessing that he was an incredible iron player.  Why?  Because every dominant player on Tour has been a great iron player during their dominance, just like Spieth.  Unless Spieth develops the yips, it's not a fair comparison to put him side-by-side with Palmer, Trevino and Watson.  And I think Palmer and Watson's putting woes were likely due in part to the changes in turf grass on the greens which worked better with the pop strokes that Palmer and Watson had.  That being said, that's pure speculation on my part.

Diaz has something with pointing out to power and longevity on Tour as well as the longer putting performance.  But the 'tried and true way to dominance' on Tour is to strike the ball well and putt well.  If you're super long, you can putt a little worse and be a little more offline.  Even Tiger had clearly his best seasons from 1999-2000 where he drove the ball extremely well.  The latter dominant years under Haney were filled with some awful driving, but he made it up with possibly the greatest era of iron play in the history of the game...and great putting.  

My projections for Spieth are great.  While his club speed is a hair below average, his ball speed is above average.  And he dominates the 'old fashioned' doing everything extremely well (driving, approach shots, short game and putting).  While one could argue him not being able to sustain the putting from 15-25 feet, it's unreasonable to argue his performance in every facet of the game.  He dominates because he is really, Really, REALLY great at every part of the game.  And he's only 22 years old so he's likely to become stronger and develop more club speed over time and probably won't start to see a dip on that club speed until he's about 35 years old.

What will curb his era of greatness is injuries, changing his golf swing and changing his body in hopes of creating more power.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Odds and Ends with Initial PGA Tour Analysis

The 2015 Pro Golf Synopsis e-book is scheduled to come out in December.  With the Tour's 2014-2015 season ending, I've compiled the data and done some initial analysis on Tour.  Here's some things I found.

- Will Wilcox had the easiest schedule on Tour when it came to driving the ball and the hardest schedule on Tour when it came to the Short Game.  Furthermore, nobody in the top-125 on the Money List played in smaller purse size events than Wilcox.  Interesting season for sure.

- Highest smash factor this year?  Ryan Palmer.

- Most aggressive driver of the ball (lays up the least often to their comparable distance off the tee)?  Matt Every.  Least aggressive?  Henrik Stenson (obviously).  2nd least aggressive?  Graham DeLaet.

- Most aggressive par-5 player (going for par-5's in two shots instead of laying up comparable to distance off the tee, hit fairway % and performance from 225-275 yards)?  Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. 

- Least aggressive on the par-5's? Stewart Cink.

- Not one player made a higher percentage of birdie putts from 5-15 feet compared to par putts from 5-15 feet.  Two players came close...Charlie Beljan (0.81% difference) and Andrew Svoboda (0.88% difference).

- The player whose approach shot performance regressed the least when hitting shots from the rough vs. the fairway was Martin Flores.  The player with the greatest regression on shots from the rough versus fairway was Chris Kirk.

- Dustin Johnson had the least amount of Red Zone (175-225 yards) shot attempts per round (4.222).

- Rookie Patrick Rodgers lead the Tour in hang time with the driver at 7.2000 seconds. 

- The play on Tour seemed noticeably better overall this year.  More players bunched up at the top.  Congratulations Jason Day!  You won 5 events this year including a major...but you STILL do not win the Player of the Year award and rightfully so.  That's how good the play was out there. 

My thinking?

I think that the driving as a whole has improved tremendously.  I think driving on Tour went on a downward spiral from around 2004 to 2012 and is now starting to become relevant again.  One can still win an event by hitting it all over the place if they are long enough (i.e.. Rickie Fowler at TPC Boston this year), but the new wave of players hit the ball long and accurately. 

While I have had my criticisms of Trackman/FlightScope, I think it has been beneficial in Tour driving.  Obviously, I can't see the Attack Angles on the Tour's Web site, but I do see other important radar metrics that give a good indication of what is going on out there.  I think we are seeing less players really crashing down on the driver.  We still have our Rickie Barnes' and Trevor Immelman's that appear to hit well down on the driver in competition, but it seems to be far less prevalent than it was 5 years ago. 

And the players are starting to manage their spin rates much better.  When the launch monitors came out and were saying that EVERYBODY should hit up on the driver, it was producing a lot of very low spin rate drivers of the ball.  This season there were more players getting that spin rate in a manageable range of 2,400 to 2,800 rpm's. 

The top 8 players on the Money List had 7 of those players finish in the top-17 in Driving Effectiveness.  You can win these days and drive it poorly, but it's entirely harder to do than it was just a few years ago.

- Who said club speed doesn't matter?

The average club speed at East Lake was 116.1 mph.  For the year, the Tour average is 113.5 mph.  Not just a coincidence that the top-30 on Tour also hit the ball quite far.

-  Over the years, I have discussed the '4 Cornerstones of the Game' which are the following:

Driving Effectiveness
Red Zone Play (175-225 yards)
Short Game shots from 10-20 yards
Putting from 3-15 feet

All a player has to do is finish at the average or better and they are very likely to have a tremendous season.

The players that accomplished that were:

Justin Rose
Jim Furyk
Jordan Spieth
Henrik Stenson
Hideki Matsuyama
Jason Day
Justin Thomas
Bubba Watson
Rickie Fowler
Keegan Bradley
David Lingmerth
John Senden
Jerry Kelly
Ryan Palmer
Kevin Kisner
J.B. Holmes
Kevin Chappell

That's a median earnings of $3,732,664!

However, I decided to see if I could tweak it further and came up with a '5th Cornerstone' to Tour success and changed one of the cornerstones:

Driving Effectiveness
Red Zone Play (175-225 yards)
Short Game Shots from 10-20 yards
Putting from 5-15 feet (was 3-15 feet)
Ball Speed

Here are the players that accomplished that feat:

Henrik Stenson
Ryan Palmer
Bubba Watson
Keegan Bradley
Jordan Spieth
Kevin Chappell
Justin Rose
Jason Day
Justin Thomas
J.B. Holmes
Hideki Matsuyama
Rickie Fowler

Their median earnings for the season was $4,396,250.

Not too shabby.

More to come...