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How analytics will improve your golf game

How analytics will improve your golf game

Analytics is used for a wide range of things most notably helping inform and dictate business decisions, but the use of data is becoming ever increasingly used in sports to improve performance. Every NBA, NFL, EPL, and major sports team has a team of analytics specialists that inform key decisions about what player should play against who, all the way down to which player they should take in the draft.

But how can the use of analytics improve every golfer's game? Whether semi-professional or a weekend warrior, you can start to break down and improve your gameplay and lower your handicap using data that you collect.

So, how do you do it?

Creating your personal golf shot database

The first thing you need to do is to build a golf shot database. A golf shot database is a record of all the different shots you play in a round of golf. For example, you might have 38 putts, 14 chips, 20 iron shots, and 14 drives for a total score of 86. One good thing about golfers is they can probably tell you every shot they took over a 9 or 18 hole course on the same day, they just never record it. While playing golf, record every shot you take by breaking them into categories. – a simple way to do this would be by recording the number of drives, irons, chips, and putts you take on each round. However, if you want to dive into more detail then you could break your irons into long and short, add in bunker/hazard shots, and break chip shots into the various styles (flop, bump and run, etc) At the end of a game or hole, then fill this into your database, a really easy way to do this is to use an excel sheet. Alternatively, there are a bunch of golf apps that perform this function for you, after each hole or after each round, you just plug in how many putts and drives you had.

Doing this over a period of time builds up your personal golf shot database which is filled with data and insights specific to you, and your game.

So, why is this helpful? 

The value of recording this data is it will identify the highest value areas for improvement. But you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and if you start measuring your game in more detail other than just your handicap, you’ll begin to find ways you can fast track your improvement. And fast-tracking improvement means you’ll get on the PGA tour in no time.

What will it tell me over time?

There are so many applications of how you can use this information all of which will ultimately lead to you improving your game and lowering your handicap:

1. You’ll be able to track your progression, not only of your golf game and your handicap but also the progression of each individual shot/area of your game. (This last part can be particularly useful in tournament formats like Ambrose or Alternate shot.)

2. You’ll get intelligence about what kind of golfer you are and what you need to focus on to improve in the future. For example, if you play off a 12 handicap, you might find out that you putt at an average of a 9 handicap but drive at a handicap of 16. Therefore you should spend more time at the driving range hitting balls off the tee, focusing on improving your driver, as it’s the fastest way to bring your overall handicap down. Or to invest in a new driver even though you want a new putter….

3. You can begin to predict how you are going to perform at individual golf clubs and even holes and conditions. The old saying is failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and you can prepare very well if you have all the data on yourself at your disposal.

Each hole is different on a course, some have more fairways and some bigger greens. If you know how each of your golf shots is performing based on overall averages, you can go into a game knowing where you need to focus on and finish knowing if you are above or below your overall average for each individual golf shot.

Warning

It’s good to note that for this to become accurate and reliable, you need a fair amount of data. So it’s best to keep a log for as long as you can and as consistently as you can.

Essentially the more golf you play, the bigger your database gets, which in turn will give you more insights into your golf game and give you the tools to become a better player. So it’s not all that bad, right?

Published by Alex Jordan