Do these 4 things and you’ll be a smarter, better golfer

September 11, 2019

Bomb driver as far as possible and attack each pin with a wedge in hand. That’s the bomb-and-gouge method; the one that’s been preached as the “modern way”.

But the more time I’ve spent hanging around the top coaches and players the more I’ve realized that’s not the game plan of more and more players. They’re taking course strategy, aim point and club selection more seriously than ever before.

Ask any tour pro what the most common mistakes they see amateur golfers make in Wednesday Pro-Ams, and their answer is always the same: Course management

Most golfers fail to account for where trouble is, the best place to miss and their realistic shot dispersion with each club in their bag.  These mistakes lead to big numbers and lost shots that could have been saved with proper planning from the start.

If you find yourself throwing away shots and shooting higher scores than you’d like, you’d be wise to heed some advice about how Edoardo minimizes mistakes and beats competitors with sound strategy.

1. Keep Your Stats

Recently, Edoardo Molinari gave us great insight into his system and how he plots his way around the golf course. He opened up about what data he keeps and how he uses it to make decisions during his tournament rounds with Cameron McCormick and Corey Lundberg on their podcast Earn Your Edge.

Starting in 2003, Edoardo began tracking every shot of every round in an Excel spreadsheet.  How far each shot went, it’s deviation from the target, his miss tendency, etc. all went into his database.  Having compiled hundreds of thousands of shots by 2013, he was able to self-diagnose what his strengths were and where his game needed work.

Edoardo quickly discovered that he now had a baseline by which to measure his own statistics.  Every three months or so, Edoardo would compare his own stats with those kept and published by the PGA Tour. If he found that he was losing ½ shot off the tee for example, he would tailor his practice accordingly.

Now he just had to figure out how to take it to the course.

2. Dial In Your Yardages

Armed with the treasure trove of data that is PGA Tour statistics, Edoardo consulted Scott Fawcett, inventor of the DECADE Course Management System.  Edoardo made some upgrades to his Excel spreadsheet that allow him to enter a hole’s length, the fairway width, distance to bunkers, penalty areas and hole locations.

Combined with his shot patterns, dispersions and tendencies, the system calculates where the optimal landing zone is for a particular hole using a certain club.

This allows Edoardo to literally spend a few minutes entering data the night before a tournament round and come up with the most optimal game plan based on years of data and his tendencies.

No more guessing, Edoardo knows what club to hit and where to aim at on every hole.

Even ¼ shot per round adds up to one shot over the course of four days which could be a $50,000+ difference in a paycheck.  So yes, stats matter.

3. Commit To Your Research

One of the main benefits Edoardo talks about is how much freedom that the system gives him. By letting the data decide, it frees him up to focus on the target that the spreadsheets tells him to aim at.

Molinari talks about a par 5 he has played many times before on tour and how everything changed when he implemented the new system. The hole requires a 290-yard carry from the tee over water.  From there it’s a three wood or hybrid over more water onto the green. We’re really talking about two perfectly hit golf shots to give yourself a chance at eagle.

Edoardo showed up on the tee and the wind was into him. The data suggested that plan B was a 2-iron from the tee, a lay-up and a wedge to the green. After watching one playing partner put it in the drink and another in the heavy rough, he went with the spreadsheet and hit the iron. He executed the plan, no stress at all and left himself with a very makeable birdie putt.

There’s no question that it took Edoardo substantial time and work to develop the system he uses to manage his way around the golf course.  But, if you were to ask him if all the time and toil was worth it, he’d tell you it was without a doubt. Why? Because it eliminates indecision and ambiguity.

If you’ve played golf for any length of time, you know what it’s like to stand over a shot and not be fully committed.  When you hit a shot without making up your mind entirely, the result usually isn’t favorable. But that’s what having such a reliable system in place eliminates for Edoardo.  Whether he’s hitting the first tee shot of a tournament or an approach into the third playoff hole, he knows his strategy is sound and it doesn’t change.

4. Play Safe

I asked Edoardo what he would suggest for any golfer to start doing after reading this article and he had a brilliant response, so what better way to end it?

“They should always aim between the flag and the center of the green with a short club. Anything longer than a 7 iron they should aim exactly at the middle of the green…however if there is water on one side of the green they should aim on the half of the green away from the water with any club!”

For more of Cordie’s Work, visit GOLF Science Lab on YouTube.