This week, "A Lesson Learned" focuses on how Gary Woodland made a series of small changes that created great progress and led to his first PGA victory. It's a great story of patience and persistance and a strong desire to improve - one that will work for your game as well as the best players in the world.
Over the last year and a half, Gary and his Dallas based coach, top PGA Instructor Randy Smith, continually took inventory of his game. Gary and Randy used data driven instruction to identify weak areas and focus practice time. They used his tour statistics to identify areas of need and then aggressively seeked to remedy those parts of his game. This year has already shown the results of their efforts. With a lot of hard work on his wedge and short game, 2011 was a great success thus far, even before this week, as evidenced by one second place and two other top ten finishes. The last addition to his reportoire was strategy work with Justin Leonard and tutelage from all time putting great, Brad Faxon. In his own words, "One thing that helped me was putting, and today it saved me." Woodland took only ten putts on the back nine and 23 for the final round. "Luckily, it won me a golf tournament."
Winning his first PGA tournament didn't come easily for the Kansas native, Gary Woodland. Out of high school, Gary chose to play Division Two college basketball, rather than golf. After a year, he transferred to Kansas, not to play for the powerhouse J-Hawk basketball team, but to rediscover golf. And that is where he landed and won four college tournaments. Early on he was known for the power of his 400 yard drives. Through data driven instruction he has achieved the balance of a well rounded game.
As a player, you can collect your own data to drive your practice time. Take a look at your own game. Instead of just guessing, take some of your own stats. You can be as detailed as you like. You can use the internet, get software, or do it on your own. I suggest that you track greens in regulation, fairways hit, putts, sand saves, and shots inside 100 yards. Once you have your data collected, analyze it, with the help of a PGA Professional, to decide where to spend your practice time. Add discipline to your game and commit to driving your practice where the data bears it out. You may not get your first Tour win like Gary Woodland, but you will see the benefit of better scores quickly.
Chad Gibbs is a PGA, Class A Professional, and is a member of the Carolinas Section. He is very pleased to be teaching at the Head Quarters of the new Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy in Myrtle Beach , South Carolina. From teaching junior golfers the basics to training seniors with disabilities, he delivers quality individualized instruction. Chad relishes the opportunity to work with competitive juniors, college players, and tour players. Chad is a student of the game and continues to educate himself through cutting edge seminars and observing other top players and teachers. He lives in Myrtle Beach , South Carolina with his wife and two daughters.