Justin Thomas had an outstanding 2017. Five wins including the PGA Championship, member of the victorious President’s Cup Team, FedEx Cup champ and winner of Player of the Year honors. Pretty good right!? Yes indeed but the items listed above probably aren’t news to you. They are things you remembered. What you may not recall however is that he missed six cuts in 2017 including three in a row. Miss three cuts in a row in 2018 and I’m sure the media will be all over you Justin! What you also may not know and what golfers (adults and juniors) and parents of juniors should know is what a full year of scores looks like. How consistent are PGA Tour pros? In the chart below you will see all of the scores Justin Thomas shot and what that looks like in the big picture of a full season. His average score is listed as well as his median. As with all of us, he has a 50 percent chance of shooting his median score or higher and a 50 percent chance of shooting his median score or lower. There is a large difference between his highest score and lowest score that being 21 strokes. This difference is not due to some crazy high score because those are normal every year by most every player but because he shot an extremely low score … a 59. If you take the 59 out of the mix there’s still 17 strokes between his lowest and highest score and let me tell you that is NORMAL. Unfortunately we are playing an inconsistent game. We’re just trying to lower our scoring average and be less inconsistent. Hopefully realizing what the best players do will give you some freedom as a player to not beat yourself up for a tough day on the course.
Bad shots are a part of the game. Champions do something well on their next shot. They rebound. They bounce back. Non-champions drag negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions to their next shot, hole and round. They talk negatively to themselves, blame others for their mistakes, and complain about things that they cannot control.
The next time you hit a shot that you don’t care for try the following:
1. Watch it all the way; find a specific spot to walk toward
2. Under-react to it; shrug it off
3. Do not leave the area from which you hit the shot until you’re over it. Take a practice swing feeling a better swing then place club back in bag and move on, period.
4. Get hungry/excited to hit your next one (play smart; bogey can be a great score)
Golf is about many things … honesty, integrity, friendships to name a few but mentally it’s about how you react and recover when the ball doesn’t go where you had intended.
We do a large number of playing lessons with our competitive junior players at our golf academy and one thing we always talk about during these playing lessons are things you should do during a practice round. Included below are a few highlights that we stress. Each of the past two winters we’ve had my friend Stephen Hale, who is Keegan Bradley’s caddie, talk to our students about the same topic. He gives us valuable insights, stories from the tour, and useful information that help all who attend.
Practice Round Information:
- We typically stress NOT keeping score. Instead, learn the course and the shots you’ll need to work on for that particular course. The only time we recommend keeping score is if your Round 1 tournament score tends to be higher than your Round 2 score. In that case, make the Practice Round your imaginary Round 1.
- Ask the golf shop staff for any local knowledge, look in the golf carts for any info like shape of greens and typical hole locations.
- Make note of clubs used, tee marker location, wind speed/direction, yardages, and target lines.
- We use different length arrows to note wind direction and speed as it relates to how many clubs you needed to take off or add onto.
- Make note of any visually deceptive designs like taller than normal flagsticks, shorter than normal flagsticks, false fronts, bunkers that lie well short of the green, mounding, et cetera.
- Shade any areas that need to be avoided but be sure to circle or note where you WANT to go as to not focus on the shaded area.
- Note yardages to the front of the green, back of green and yardage it takes to carry any hazards/areas of concern
- If you are playing at an elevation different than what you do at home, know the yardages that your clubs travel.
- Be sure to receive AND READ the local rules sheet.
- Look for spray painted dots on the greens which typically indicate hole locations for the upcoming tournament and practice putting to them.
When it comes to improving your game, bettering what you do during a practice round is one of the most mature and beneficial things you can do. There are hundreds of things to look out for and learn which is why we created an 8-page outline just on this topic that we hand out to our students during our playing lessons. www.golfscrimmages.com