Master the Course

Better golf by the numbers

By Chad Gibbs, PGA
Published on

The numbers came up well for Gary Woodland as he won his first PGA Tour event, the Transitions Championship.Getty Images

In 2011, Gary Woodland made a series of small changes that created great progress and led to his first PGA victory — and put him on the road to becoming a major champion.
It's a great story of patience and persistence and a strong desire to improve — one that will work for your game as well as the best players in the world.
Over the course of a year and a half, Gary and his Dallas-based coach, 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 sought to remedy those parts of his game.

Winning his first PGA tournament didn't come easily for the Kansas native, Gary Woodland. Out of high school, Gary chose to play Division II 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.