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SGP, Part 2: Breaking Barriers

Collecting data through Strokes Gained Putting is a valuable tool that players of all skill levels can benefit from using. Yet the majority of players shy away from this information for any number of reasons. The most important reason for this disconnect, and the top reason I have encountered in my coaching students, is a lack of appreciation for why they need to spend time collecting this data and remove the emotional component from their putting.This article will take the time to break down the barriers so that you can start becoming more aware of your tendencies on the course, identify areas for improvement, and improve the quality of your practice.

(Click HERE for a refresher on Strokes Gained if you need a recap)

Despite the elite using this information to their advantage, too few competitive amateurs and everyday golfers alike that have access to this information take the time to make the pathway to better putting easier. It has become apparent to me that a compelling reason is all the majority of players asking why is all that is required. So, we will start with the obvious…

The Pros Are Doing It

Yes, it’s cliche, but hear me out. The best players in the world seek out highly qualified individuals like Mark Broadie (@MarkBroadie) and Rich Hunt (@Richie3Jack) to gather, study, and evaluate this data. They are taking this information to determine the most obvious opportunities for improvement. Those are the areas that will have the biggest impact on the player’s performance. When hundreds of thousands of dollars ride on a single putt or a player’s livelihood by keeping or losing their status is at stake, the preparation and improvement process matters.

Now, while you might not be playing for life changing sums of money or suffering through the demands of performing to pay for next month’s rent, chances are you are reading this article because you care about your game. You need the fastest route to your destination instead of driving without directions. You care about the results. You have a desire to putt better.

The Emotional Factor

Consider this scenario, which does require a basic understanding of Strokes Gained Putting. If you haven’t brushed up on that yet and need to, HERE is your second chance before continuing.

The first figure below is of a scratch golfer who was not happy with his putting performance due to missing two short putts on two of the last three holes. He cites that this is a common occurrence and thinks there is something wrong with his stroke. He’s lamenting the end result and is headed to the green to work on, well, whatever he feels is wrong.

This second figure below is of another scratch golfer who is generally optimistic about his putting during his last round and, while recognizing a couple of mishaps, is committed to continuing to work on the drills he and his coach have developed to best prepare him.

What you should immediately notice is that the total Strokes Gained for each of the rounds is covered. They are revealed below:

Each round resulted in identical Strokes Gained. What is the difference between the two rounds? Statistically speaking, nothing. If you compare the two rounds closely, though, holes 2 and 17 and 7 and 16 have been swapped. The timing of the missed putts that each of the players experienced did change. Because our first player missed putts during the final few holes, it seems to have entirely negated his otherwise solid performance on the front nine. His emotional attachment and inability to be objective will create other larger issues.

The emotional attachment to the results is the separating factor for each of these players. One will blame his mechanics and start searching for answers in all of the wrong places based on those emotions. The other is committing to an already established process for improvement to work through the mistakes he made during his last round.

After all, they are just that. Mistakes. And they happen.

The Wrap Up

It is essential that players recognize the difficulty between separating the immediate appearance of a putting performance and what actually happened. Distinguishing the emotion from the tangible results will always be an ever present challenge for golfers because we place value in the end result, notably what happened most recently.

It’s time to start making accurate, data driven decisions as part of the pathway to putting better. Until then though, I think you should download a great app that you will need in the future called Spider Putt. My friend Cedric Denis has worked tirelessly to develop this app that will change the way you practice, prepare, and perform. You'll need to have it handy for the next part of this series called "SGP, Part 3: Trouble Tracking." Thank you for reading and feel free to message me with questions either here on via Instagram @prestonsputting

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