Using Golf Data Analytics to Improve Your Game | Rapsodo
In 2003, best-selling author Michael Lewis published Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. The book was about how Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane used advanced analytics to uncover hidden value in baseball players and gain a statistical advantage over his more well-resourced competition.
You’ve probably heard of the book. It sold almost 2 million copies, was adapted into an award-winning movie and has made a legitimate cultural impact far beyond baseball.
In the 15 years since it was first published, nearly every sport has undergone its “Moneyball” evolution where traditional counting stats are eschewed in favor of advanced analytics. Golf is no exception.
You could argue that Mark Broadie is to golf as Billy Beane is to baseball. Broadie is a Columbia Business School professor who is best-known for introducing the Strokes Gained statistics around 2011. Essentially, Strokes Gained is a more accurate representation of how a player is performing relative to the field. As it quickly gained wide-acceptance in golf, the game’s best players began to consider how a more detailed statistical understanding of their own golf games might benefit them on the course.
Around the same time that Broadie introduced Strokes Gained, Brandt Snedeker became the first player to hire a full-time statistical analyst on TOUR. It quickly paid off. In 2011, Snedeker earned $3,587,206, more than doubling his earnings from the previous year. In 2012 he made $4,989,739, not including $10,000,000 bonus for winning the Tour Championship. While his analyst wasn’t the only reason for his improvement, Snedeker was keenly aware of the impact that statistics made on his game:
Not surprisingly, a large number of golfers on professional tours employ some sort of statistical analyst today. Competitive golfers have found data-driven insights to understand and evaluate their numbers. This has helped inform practice habits, course strategy and identify areas of weakness.
While many of the resources available to TOUR players are impractical for amateur golfers, basic shot tracking data and golf analytics is not one of them. If you consider everything an amatuer can do to improve their golf game, you’ll find that , evaluating shot data is one of the most simple, cost-effective solutions imaginable. Understanding your golf data can help you improve your hip sway, shoulder tilt and swing speed in an easy-to-understand manner.
Here are three ways that using a tool like Rapsodo MLM will help you improve your game:
1. Know How Far You REALLY Hit Your Irons
Most golfers base club selection on their best contact, not their average contact.
We remember our best shot on the range or golf simulator and then assign it as our stock yardage for that particular club at the golf course. The unfortunate reality is that amateurs don’t find the center of the clubface nearly as often as we’d like to think we do.
This results in a lower smash factor and significant decrease in distance from the shot we remember flushing on the range.
This isn’t an issue that only plagues high-handicap golfers. Golfers of ALL skill levels grossly overestimate how far they hit the ball.
According to research shared by Today’s Golfer, golfers almost never miss long. This becomes especially problematic with approach shots.
Surely the most telling stat is the number of misses short compared to long. This paints a sorry picture for how many of us are falling foul of golf’s most heinous crime. While only one approach shot in 20 goes through the green for all handicap levels, longer-handicappers leave almost every other iron shot short.
Even at an 11-15-handicap level, one in three shots fail to reach the green. In terms of the club, we get slightly better as the club gets shorter, but we are still leaving one in four 9-irons short of the green, and more than one in three 5-irons.
Approach Shot Misses by Handicap:
0-5: 5% (long) 24% (short)
6-10: 5% (long) 28% (short)
11-15: 5% (long) 34% (short)
16-20: 5% (long) 41% (short)
20+: 5% (long) 48% (short)
2. Manage Your Misses
Greenskeepers call them sucker pins for a reason. They could set a pin two paces from the Grand Canyon and most of us would take dead aim. Pin hunting might be fun, but it isn’t always smart.
Nobody is good enough to attack every flagstick… Not even the pros.
Since televised golf usually only shows round highlights or live shots from leaders (who are playing well), it’s easy to get the impression that the best golfers in the world stuff every shot with a short iron.
In reality, they have a far wider shot dispersion than you might think.
According to Broadie, the average pros on the PGA TOUR will put half of their shots within 23 feet from 150 yards away. The best pros will have a median of 21 feet.
Comparatively, the average golfer bogey will put half of their shots 56 feet from 150 yards out (and miss the green over 65% of the time).
The real time shot dispersion tracking and visualization offered by Rapsodo MLM can be an impactful tool for amateurs. By understanding where you miss, how often you miss and by how much you miss, golfers can identify weak spots in their game and make more informed decisions related to course strategy.
3. Data-Friendly Golfers Are More Likely To Improve
One of the most compelling cases for implementing simple data analytics through the MLM is the research that suggests individuals who do use data-driven insights to monitor their progress are far more likely to improve and achieve their goals.
In 2014, the University of Sheffield’s Benjamin Harkin, Ph.D. did a meta-analysis of 138 studies pertaining to goal setting in hopes of better understanding the impact of monitoring and self-evaluation.
He and his team found that more frequent monitoring of progress was associated with better results. They also found that even larger improvements were experienced when the data was recorded and made public.
According to Harkin, “monitoring goal progress is a crucial process that comes into play between setting and attaining a goal, ensuring that the goals are translated into action.”
Applying the practice of self-monitoring to golf was impractical for players 20 years ago. Recording meaningful golf data was extremely difficult and organizing it was nearly impossible. Today, with golf swing and ball tracking systems like the MLM, it can be a simple as the click of a button. In mere minutes you’re able to review relevant stats, compare results to other users or share your data with friends.
Rapsodo MLM isn’t just designed to make practice more fun, it’s a tool to make game improvement more achievable. By having a better statistical understanding of your golf game, you’ll be better prepared for the challenges you face on the course.