A reflection on everything I love about the game. Today – Statistics

For as long as I can remember playing golf, I kept stats. Nothing fancy just Gir, Fir, and putts on my scorecard. These helped me judge what I was doing compared to where I wanted to be. I used stats from the PGA Tour to compare myself to tour pros and gauge how good I was getting. One thing that stood out to me was putts. I was a good putter and my stats were similar when compared to the lowest total putts of PGA Tour players. I later learned, because of all the stats I had from all the rounds I played, that I really was a good chipper and pitcher of the golf ball. This was before Strokes Gained was kept on tour so stats for me was just a compilation of numbers I put meaning to. As I became a better ball striker and hit more greens (GIR) my putts climbed out of the “tour” category and I began to realize I was not as good of a putter as I thought I was. If I hit 10 greens in 18 holes and got up and down six times and made a couple of birdies, I’d shoot even par. This didn’t change a lot if I hit 14 greens because I was not making more birdie putts. The truth was in the numbers and while frustrating, this is what I loved. The statistics did not lie, it was the truth, clear as can be. If I chipped within 6 feet, I made most of those putts, but if I hit greens I didn’t make a lot of 20 footers for birdie. I was not a long hitter so hitting par 5’s in two or getting close to par fives with my second shot was not happening. I hit a wall. The simple solution was get better at 20 footers and get better with my wedges.
The stats told me what I needed to do and yes I loved that, but really what I loved was going through my round at the end of the day, shot by shot, compiling the numbers again, reliving the good shots and thinking about where I could improve. It was a meditative process, picturing every shot I hit, visualizing the trajectory of the ball, feeling the wind direction, the moisture in the air, the feeling of solid contact. I would visualize shots I did not hit well and play them over in my head, creating a movie of a positive outcome. I loved this process and I did it daily for years and years. Frankly, I miss this. I miss playing golf everyday and the process of improving. Fortunately, I get to pass on this love of the process to my students and see them excel and get them better. It truly is all about the process, that is where the love comes from, the process of improving just a little bit everyday.

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