Feedback is a critical element in a performance system. How do you know where you are? How do you know you are getting to where you want to go? How do you know you are making progress? Measurable feedback can really assist on this journey.
Quantitative feedback can come in many shapes and forms. For instance, from a swing technique perspective it maybe measuring toques and forces, 3D or impact geometry and ball flight data.
But the most important quantitative feedback is results. A mantra I coach players in our programs is, ‘lowest score wins most money’. That is something that has never changed in the history of tournament golf, and never will.
Players need practice programs whereby they can quantify their progress – not what I call the ‘headless chicken’ approach where a good practice session is based on the quantity of time (this was me as a young player!). Our Tour Player Practice System is based around this concept.
One reflection I have had from having the opportunity to work on the European Tour over the last decade, is that the approach play of Tour Players is at a significantly higher level than nationally ranked elite amateurs. This is probably the most visible difference between the two levels, although invisibly (psychologically) there are differences as well. As a result of this, based on my opening statement that ‘feedback is a critical element in a performance system’, I started to increase feedback protocols in both practice and play in this area for the elite players I coach. I call it Scoring Zone which is a combination of Iron Zone and Wedging added together.
When you play on the course, start to record your proximity to hole based on the ‘Birdie/Par/Bogey’ table below. If you are a lady or junior player, you can adjust the distances as necessary.
It’s simple, but it works. I can’t tell you the success I’ve had with this simple task. When I was coaching a National Team in Asia, at the outset I asked them their opinion about their approach play and wedge game. Most said it was good. But then in testing on the range, and then using this table above for when they played, their initial results were very poor! Typically, they would be +7 or +8 for 10 or so shots – and these were players with plus h’caps and World Ranked. After 12 months, they were scoring level par of better. All their scoring averages had improved immensely, as had their World Rankings.
Introduce this protocol to your game, or if you are a coach, to your players. If the players are not elite, you can adjust the distances for ‘birdie, par and bogey’. But having a scoring system for Scoring Zone play will in most cases automatically improve this skill, because feedback is a critical element in a performance system.