Another solid weekend with a little fun mixed in.
As I continue to adjust to my new swing changes, I’ve seen a lot of positive results. This week was the first time I played twice in one weekend, which is a good test to see how well I’ve incorporated new movements.
When fatigue starts to set in, we tend to default to old motor patterns. Basically our bodies take the path of least resistance, which is the neural paths we’ve been developing for years. Despite proper training, those habits never truly go away. They become less influential as we reroute the pathways, but falling back into the old ways of doing things is natural.
On Sunday an old friend asked me to participate in a four-man scramble, and the event is always enjoyable. A scramble also takes a lot of pressure off of my performance, which was the perfect segway into a two-round weekend. Because of the nature of a scramble including purchased mulligans, the data are not included in today’s breakdown. Only for your reading pleasure will you be happy to know that we finished 2nd despite being a two-man team.
Saturday was my regular round, in which I carded an 81 (+9) with a triple-bogey on the same hole I snowmanned a couple weeks ago (still an improvement). Despite the slight bump in score, the real accomplishment was shooting this score while having my most physically strenuous round in years.
This year I joined the legions of “athletes” who wear a Whoop. According to the strain score associated with Saturday morning, this round was my all-time highest exertion. The conditions were hot compared to the last couple of weeks and the physical toll was great.
What I’ve found in my journey is that as my heart rate goes up, so do my scores. Even monitoring my heart rate after a round, I can see when the bogies happened. It is challenging to maintain focus and execute golf fundamentals when you’re running hot (either mentally or physically). To have a sustained, increased heart rate really taxes the body and mind. So my minor dip in performance was actually a leap in physical adaptation.
Now in order to make proper assessments, I’m going to need to separate the stages of my efforts. The first two rounds were really just getting back into playing again without much tinkering, so eventually I will weed them out of my statistics. I have to be careful not to draw too many conclusions from small sample sizes but will simultaneously have to be aware of how and when my adjustments are coming into play.
For today I wanted to first show you a comparison of my last round against the previous round and then compare the first two rounds to my last two rounds to highlight macro vs. micro changes. This may become the way that I identify results from my practice, but only time will tell how accurate a measure it is.
Despite similar scores, you can see how my performance shifted between rounds. My experience has taught me that the short game can fluctuate regularly but not as severely. Since I was already trending in the right direction (courtesy of knocking the rust off green reading and a slight setup adjustment), I’m never too concerned when I peak or valley in this part of the game. It’s more an unfortunate variable in score. In this case for the better.
Penalties off the tee box can skew the data, but are a direct result of poor performance. The swing was slightly less predictable but possibly another cause was my course management. Perhaps the targets I picked were too close to the dangers, and I could have avoided a couple water balls with a more conservative effort. Hindsight doesn’t help now.
Now that we’ve covered the micro-comparison, let’s take a look at the macro trend in my game.
After my first two weeks getting back into golf, I made a backswing adjustment and concentrated effort to understand how my right hand is applied. My theory was that altering this technique would improve my full swing. So here’s a look at my first two rounds against the last two:
Now there are WAY too many variables to make any reasonable conclusions about this data, but in sharing this comparison we can see that although my short game has come back, my tee box performance has significantly improved. I’ve broken down the categories in the table below so you can see the details:
|Golf Stat Lab||-6.1||-2.4||0.0||-2.8|
Being completely honest, it doesn’t appear as though my full swing has made the significant improvement I thought it would. My approach game has not shown statistical significance and putting has saved me nearly three strokes a round. There is overall improvement in every category and I do feel much more comfortable on the tee box.
As my own swing coach, I have to have a truthful assessment of my performance regardless of the effort I’m putting in as a “student”. Only by objectively approaching the numbers can I sift out the truth.
At this point I can’t make any conclusions on whether my approach is working. Driving improvements could be a result of better course management or simply more repetitions. What I can conclude is that I need to continue to work on my iron swing if I am going to get back into the 70s anytime soon.
Another thing I’ve come to appreciate is the different Strokes Gained methodology of the two systems I’m using. You probably noticed that they don’t match and there is a good reason. GAME GOLF uses strokes gained from scratch golfers while Golf Stat Lab’s “Performance DNA” is measured against PGA Tour Strokes Gained.
Where a scratch golfer might beat me by 9 strokes, a PGA Tour pro would scrub me by 15. There really is a big difference between the very good and the very best.
One last thing I wanted to mention is a new method that I will start to implement called the Deming Cycle, or PDSA. W. Edwards Deming helped create this method for continual improvement of processes. PDSA is short for Plan-Do-Study-Act. Formulate a plan, do the proposed change, study to see the effect, and adjust the action accordingly.
The method is a version of what I’ve been doing but more structurally defined. If you’re interested, I highly recommend taking some lessons from Mr. Deming. He helped usher in the manufacturing revolution in post-WWII Japan. His guidance became known as kaizen, and it is a philosophy I revisit when I lose my way.
Improvement isn’t linear. Being able to identify issues, enact a plan, understand the results, and adjust are going to speed up the process. What I’m hoping to find is that when I make small changes in a larger issue (i.e. what swing adjustment improves ball-striking) during shorter periods of feedback, those minute alterations contribute percentage increases that can build off one another. Every day we get a little bit better.