How do you measure the state of your golf game?
Most people would point to their handicap number and they wouldn't necessarily be wrong.
But, the handicap can be deceiving, seeing as it is calculated by using the 10 best of a golfer's 20 most recent scores.
What if those best 10 scores were the first 10 and you've struggled significantly in your latest 10? Is the handicap then still a true measure of your game?
Well, that's where PGA.com's newest partner, LinxTracker enters the equation.
LinxTracker is about true performance measurement, measuring performance on the course and at the range.
LinxTracker is the only company to offer a PAR Index which handicaps your practice on the range. The Web-based program for golf performance on the course and at the range will now be available via PGA.com.
"We do two things for two people, round analysis and practice analysis, for players and for instructors.," said Andy Beyrer, vice president of Indiana-based LinxTracker. "We try to tie the player to a PGA Instructor or coach so they can share that information. It's like getting a complete health screening done at your local hospital and having those results immediately sent to all of your physicians, doctors and nurses that treat you. Essentially our program provides the golfer with a way to connect to their PGA Professional. It's a standardized series of shots that covers everything from short shots, long shots, sand shots, etc. That way we can handicap each part of your game. You might be a 12 overall handicap, but what are you at putting? Chipping? Driving? Here you identify what specific parts account for overall handicap."
LinxTracker, which can be had for an annual membership of $39.95 from PGA.com, uses two areas of tracking and assessment. The first is round play on the course with over 100 critical stats, which determines Round Index, or the actual performance indicator without filtering any poorly scored rounds or holes. It assesses true performance.
Then there's the PAR Index, which assesses practice on the range and scores a "handicap" practice performance.
So how does the PAR Index work?
"From a user standpoint, it's very easy," Beyrer said. "PAR is a helpful reminder to remember to practice all parts of your game."
Rather than go out to the range and bang a bucket of golf balls without any consequence, the PAR Index forces a player to focus on hitting a series of specific shots in succession with a score associated with the outcome of each shot, as indicated on your PAR Index scorecard.
In all, the PAR test covers 63 shots in seven areas - pitching, chipping, bunker shots, 100-yard approach shots, 150-yard approach shots, driving and putting. Each area takes between 5-7 minutes to complete and about 45 minutes for the entire test. It's the alternative to a round of golf and can be used by anyone from a beginner to an advanced player.
The results obtained after your practice session clearly highlight the specific areas of your game that need improvement and cost you the most strokes.
"With our PAR Index, you're scoring every shot and you're practicing with a purpose," Beyrer said. "The statistics we collect are detailed and very accurate."
It also serves as a continuity program for Teaching Professionals to engage and assess their players. Teaching Professionals can add paid players to their account and receive email notifications every time a player posts a score and then filter students to hone in on a specific player performance.
Because of its detailed information, Joe Hallett, the PGA Director of Golf at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance in Port St. Lucie, Fla., highly recommends LinxTracker's services to all Teaching Professionals.
"It's free to all PGA Professionals, it's a 24/7 way to keep contact with your students, it has great marketing tools built in, it allows you to be with your students vicariously while they are on the course (and you are not) and it's a true teaching asset that allows you to see all of your students game beyond the lesson tee," Hallett said. "The PAR test is the best way to get your students to be able to practice then test their practice and improvement, which is something that will really make a difference."
Don't be mistaken, Beyrer warns, "We're not a handicap service - we're strictly about true performance and analysis," which captures a snapshot of how you're performing in real time.
Handicap, Beyrer added, is an indicator of potential ability, while LinxTracker's product is an indicator of actual ability.
Hallett has been using LinxTracker's PAR Index for the last several years and says it's the ultimate tool for both students and teachers.
"LinxTracker is a true measure of your results and how your performance is affecting the results," Hallett said. "It is more 'reliable' than a handicap because it is not weighted. It tells you where you stand in your game at any given moment."
LinxTracker is also being utilized by tour players, elite national teams, high schools, colleges and universities. The easy-to-use interface gives coaches detailed ranking reports, they can enter rounds for players and players can enter team rounds on their own.
To get started, visit PGA.com for a special offer, or LinxTracker.com.
"Through PGA.com there will be links and banner ads for LinxTracker," Beyrer said. "For players, we will have a free 30-day trial and special pricing on annual memberships. For PGA and non-PGA members and golf facilities, they will have free use of the program and special pricing for other products. The Teaching Professional accounts are a managerial account to manage paid player accounts. The player pays for the product, the instructors then manage it. They can invite people to join. That's the only social networking involved. We're not sharing statistics, we're not posting leaderboards showing who leads the world in driving distance. It's not about ego. It's about true performance analysis and improving your golf game."
LinxTracker's program also provides a helpful tool called Goal Setter, where players can easily track their progress. The player can create a desired playing goal in the system. If the player is exceeding that goal, the statistics appear in the color green. If the player is coming up short of the intended goal, the statistics are shown in the color red.
Your statistics can be entered into the LinxTracker system via www.LinxTracker.com, or some participating locations provide automation for posting scoring information through a scanner. Certain locations, like the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance for example, also have self-serve kiosks where students can walk off the course and scan their scorecards to their account and immediately receive a round analysis printout.
To learn more about LinxTracker, visit www.PGA.com or www.LinxTracker.com.