Lou Stagner's Newsletter #20

Distance Traveled

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Distance Traveled

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I was recently meeting with a student who is a ten index. He has been working with his swing coach on improving the quality of strike with his irons. Across all 10 index players, he is in the bottom 5% for approach play.

We have been monitoring his strokes gained approach, and he’s started to see improvement. He told me he has been hitting it on the button a lot more.

This got me curious. I thought it would be interesting to see what percent of distance to the hole he was covering with his irons.

For example, if you are 100 yards to the hole, and hit the ball 92 yards, you cover 92 percent of the distance to the hole. If you were 100 away and hit it 111, you would cover 111% of the distance to the hole.

How much has this improved for this player? But…

Why just do this for one player when I can look at a database with nearly 750 million shots and see what this looks like across all skill levels? 😃 

So off to the Arccos Golf database I went to crunch the numbers (use code DATALOU15 to save 15%).

The Data

Let’s look at our first chart. Below is the average distance covered for all approach shots (handicap index along the left side). You can see that scratch players cover an average of 94% of the distance to the hole across all their approach shots.

The chart above is an average for all approach shots. How does it look for shots that travel less than 70% of the distance to the hole (e.g., you are 100 away and the ball travels less than 70 yards).

You can see that for 20 index players, one out of every four approach shots they hit travels less than 70% of the distance to the hole. This is more than triple a scratch player (who is at 8%).

What does this look like for “good” shots?

Where good = traveled at least 90% of the distance to the hole… They were 100 away and the ball went at least 90.

For scratch players, 72% of their approach shots travel at least 90% of the distance to the hole. 20 index players are MILES behind at only 48% (no pun intended).

What do good shots look like when we only look at approach shots that were 100 to 150 yards to the hole? You can see our scratch players continue to have a huge lead on our higher handicap players. 82% of their shots from 100 to 150 yards travel at least 90% of the distance to the hole.

Finally, I wanted to see what this looked like if we broke it down by score. The chart below is for 10 index players. It has the same general shape for every skill level.

You can see when 10 index players shoot 75 or lower, their approach shots cover an average of 92% of the distance to the hole… (you know these are all member guest rounds, right? 😆 ).

My Thoughts

Increasing the percentage of distance that you cover with your iron shots will help to lower your scores and lower your handicap. Working on strike so that you make better contact will go a long way to improving your game.

One of the big culprits here is low point control (where the club hits the ground). Many amateurs struggle with this.

This results in a lot of fat shots. As you know, fat shots don’t go very far.

If this sounds like you, I would encourage you to work on low point control.

Lou Stagner