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Golf Game Management II: Your Shot Pattern

Read other Parts from the Technology & Distance series, Short Game series and Off Season Golf series here, Archives.

Send me any suggestions you have for the next or future newsletters. Just submit your ideas using this simple form. Now on to this week's topic.

II. Hit to your own shot pattern to shoot lower scores

    The topic of this this series is Golf Game Management. Can you shoot lower scores without physical improvement? The answer is a resounding, YES! Not that I'm advocating not improving your ball striking and short game skill level.

   Do you know your shot pattern with each of your clubs? Do you hit the majority of your short irons left, right, short or long of the target? Knowing your shot pattern for your clubs is critical to making good club selections and deciding on your target. The flag is not always the best target. Where you aim depends on the location of hazards and on your shot pattern.

   Consider a typical shot pattern below in Diagram 1, assuming a circular green with the target flag at the center. This pattern represents the player's last 27 shots with a particular club. Note that most of the shots fall short of the middle of the green and are skewed to the left. The bulk of the misses are short and left of the center of the green. This is consistent with the fact that most golfers hit short of their targets.

   Below right is a schematic of a green in Diagram 2 bordered by water front left and a sand bunker on the right. We'll also assume that outside this diagram is either out of bounds or heavy foilage of some sort (trees, high grass, bushes, etc).

Diagram 1
        Diagram 2

Diagram 3 to the right is an overlap of the shot pattern with the green assuming the target is the flag at the left, front of the green.

Note that many of the shots would end up in the water or out of bounds. In fact, only 8 or 27 shots ends up on the green.

Diagram 3

 

In hitting to the above hole, what should the player expect to score if he/she aims at the flag? We can calculate the expected score by using the probabilities of hitting different positions.

Let's take a look at the various probabilities:

hitting the green is 8/27 = 0.30, or 30%
hitting the water is 6/27 = 0.22, or 22%
hitting it O.B. is 3/27 = 0.11, or 11%
hitting the apron of the green is 7/27 = 0.26, or 26%
hitting to where a wedge would be played 3/27 = 0.11, or 11%

Without doing any further analysis, it should be quite obvious that the player aiming at the flag will likely have a poor score.

To calculate the expected scores, one needs to combine the probabilities with the likely number of strokes taken from different postions. I'll use the same ones as I used in the previous newsletter.                                     

Wedge 10-40 yards = 2.8 strokes = E(Wedge) = Expect #strokes with wedge
Chips = 2.4 strokes = E(Chip) = Expect #strokes with chip shots from green edge
Putts (15-30 ft) = 1.9 strokes = E(Putts) = Expect # putts

Water = 1 shot penalty plus Wedge shot = 3.8
O.B. = 1 shot penalty and re-hit from tee taking 3.5 with 2nd ball = 4.5

With the above shot pattern, the expected score on the hole would be the:

= iron shot stroke + hit green + hit water + hit O.B. + hit apron + hit wedge

= 1 + 0.30 X 1.9 + 0.22 X 3.8 + 0.11 X 4.5 + 0.26 X 2.4 + 0.11 X 2.8

= 1 + 0.57 + 0.84 + 0.50 + 0.62 + 0.31 = 1 + 2.84 = 3.84

If you'd like further explanation of the mathematics above, click here.

The expected score is 3.84, well above par. Of course, sometimes the player would make 3, other times 4, and even 5 or 6. On very rare occasions, the player would make 2 (this is what the player remembers clearly and thus is tempted to go for the flag on future shots).

Assume now the player aims about 10 yards right of the flag and about 5 yards long. Diagram 4 below shows the likely outcomes. X marks the aim target.

Note that 21 out of 27 shots hit the green. What a huge difference; that's 78%. Only 1 finds the water and 1 finds the sand.

I'm sure you can see that if we computed the new probabilities and expected # of strokes, the expected score would be much lower.

One of the services I provide golfers is a "shot pattern" analysis. After the player collects his/her shot statistics with the various clubs, I use a spreadsheet I've written to determine where the player should aim on a hole relative to the flag in order to have the lowest expected score (using calculations like the ones in the example above).

To see a specific example of what this service provides, take a look at this shot pattern example. The service only costs $12.99. Order it here.

In future newsletters on this topic, we'll take a look at Game Management further in areas such as club selection based on shot patterns, wind, elevation, altitude, and temperature. We'll also look at Game Management as it applies to your short game and putting. There a lots of ways to make the best of what you currently have! We can all make better choices on the course.

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If you are more interested in finding out which golf ball is best for you and your game, consider the following:

Longest Golf Ball Report -- a statistical analysis of different golf balls hit by an
                                    Iron Byron Robot machine.

Discover the secret "missing link" in your golf game. Understand which golf balls REALLY make a difference in each stroke!

A list of resources that have been used to produce this newsletter can be found on my website here.

The focus of my site is to utilize science and math to lower your score. New technology is one way to achieve this, but to be honest, the technology is one small piece of the puzzle.

To actually improve significantly, we all need to:

1. Improve our swings using CD Interactive, Hit Down Dammit!

2. Learn how to swing simpler like the Iron Byron with the great coffee table book, Swing Machine Golf!

3. Improve our physical fitness and strength.
The Golf Trainer Power Performance Programô
and Ultimate Golf Fitness Ebook

4. Improve our mental games. Golf Mind Software

5. Improve our Probable Golf games. Learn how to make better choices on the course through knowing how shot patterns and reading the elements and course better.

Click on the links above to take a look at ways that I personally use myself and recommend you try as well.

Hope I provided some useful ways for to become better prepared for you best golf season ever.

Ken Tannar

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