Those that have spoken to me know that I made a purchase during the winter of 2017-18 that has profoundly affected the way I see the game of golf. In the same way that Trackman did for the ball flight laws it opened my eyes to how the game really works while uncovering the truths and exposing the errors in the old conventional wisdom. Oh, and it helped me shoot lower scores! What I am talking about is DECADE*, created by Scott Fawcett and used by many of the best professionals in golf, it is a stat tracking and strategy system.
Golf has lagged behind other sports in that teaching and coaching rarely happens on the field of play, rather it mostly happens on the driving range, and chipping and putting greens. This is so unfortunate because there is a lot missing in these practice environments compared to being on the golf course. I’ve never seen a member let out an “F” bomb, or swing a club in anger, or any of the other signs of body-English that golfers have come to recognise while on the practice areas, but look out on the course and it is happening everywhere. These people are playing completely different games, one is experiencing all of the emotions that come with the consequences of each shot, and one is in such a relaxed state that they probably couldn’t even tell you where they are trying to hit the ball. In fact, it is very common for me to ask somebody who is practicing to tell me their target and they say “uh, I don’t know, I guess that flag over there?”. Is it any wonder that so many golfers don’t transfer their skills to the course well, and never really learn how to play the best strategies for their ability?
Unfortunately, the summer one hour lesson model on the driving range that many teachers adopt doesn’t do a great job of teaching these on-course strategy and playing skills and if you wanted to pay your teacher for an 18-hole playing lesson you would need to pay for 4 hours of his time, that could end up being more than $400 in a lot of cases. That’s a problem if you really want to improve.
This is something I am going to try to solve for the 2019 season with my lessons, but you can also take time to improve your decision making and planning while away from the course.
These on-course skills will be a major focus of future blog posts throughout the winter and upcoming golf season. I will be using specific examples that people encounter at Oshawa Golf and Curling Club. While you might never learn the physical skills that PGA tour level golfers have, there is no reason why you can’t develop the strategic awareness of the best golfers in the world.
Feel Free to reach out to me if you want to see a blog post about a specific situation you have difficulty with.
To start, we are going to look at Dispersion, what it means and why it is important.
What’s Your Dispersion?
Have a look at this image.
This image is taken from a report I made indoors on Trackman. I hit 18 drivers on the Trackman which saves all the data from each shot and compiles it into a nice report I can view on MyTrackman.com. I first want to say that these 18 drivers were very good shots.
What can we learn from the image above?
- There is roughly 55 yards between the furthest right ball (26 yards from center line), and the furthest left ball (29 yards from center line).
- There is roughly 27 yards between the shortest ball (288 yards), and the longest ball (315 yards).
- The pattern is skewered so that the left side of the pattern tends to finish further than the right side.
I want to stress again that these shots were all very nice, If I had continued to hit more balls, say 100 or 1000 total shots I would expect to see;
- A widening of the pattern to something like 65 or 70 yards between furthest left and furthest right balls
- The pattern would have a mid-point that might not necessarily fall on the Trackman’s given center line
- The pattern would be distributed such that there would be more shots in the middle of the pattern, and progressively less as you move towards the edges
I also want to note that these were done indoors, in a controlled environment with absolutely zero wind, and I was hitting the same shot over and over again, both things that would never happen on the real course and so you would expect your pattern to be even larger.
For the sake of argument, I am working with a 65-ish yard dispersion with my driver yet at Oshawa Golf and Curling Club I still manage to shoot under par for nearly every 18-hole round. The regular handicap golfer is less accurate in terms of degrees off line but also shorter, therefore you can usually use the 65-yard guideline for yourself even if you hit the ball shorter than I do. I would still recommend you do the work to find out your individual driver pattern as it can be really useful.
How Can You Manage a 65 Yard Dispersion?
Here’s how I manage my dispersion pattern around Oshawa Golf and Curling Club. This is just be some of the holes that I hit driver on, and each pattern is sized to represent 65-yards across measured with the satellite images available on google earth. If you have spent any time playing with me you will find that I am in these spots all the time!
- I carry the ball high and far enough to essentially eliminate the left hazard, and I accept that I will be in the right trees occasionally. When I am in those trees, I play accordingly. You might have seen the very best and long hitting players at the club trying this play as well, the key is to make sure that your pattern is aimed far enough right to avoid the left hazard on the vast majority of your shots.
- Remember, just because driver is the correct play for me on this hole it doesn’t mean it will be for you.
- My Driver pattern just barely fits between the trouble on both sides which might make me fall back off the tee, however in this case the right balls get held in by the steep slope, and the left balls usually get stopped by the tree before they go into the trouble, also there is a huge gain to be had from the balls in the fairway which often take that last downslope and get very close to the front edge of the green. Therefore, Send It!
- This one is important to show because there is out of bounds in play, OB is a NO NO so I center my pattern far enough to the left where I should always avoid the OB.
- Notice that the pattern is centered on the left side of the greenside bunker. If better players center their pattern over the green on this hole hoping for an eagle putt, then too many of their shots will go into the right penalty area. Penalty areas are NO NO’s!
These images just highlight how subtle changes in your target can have big effect on your scorecard, especially when they compound over an entire season. The off-season is a great time where you can improve your strategy and the decisions you make on the course with just a little bit of thought and attention.
Remember, these examples are based on my driver data, which tells me that I should plan for 300 yard drives scattered between a dispersion of 65 yards. Things start to look very different when you start thinking about the average golfer who only hits the driver 240 yards.
More to come on this, tell me what you think!
*Contact me if you are interested in purchasing a DECADE membership