Drive for show, putt for dough was once the expression. Then Bryson came along and power seemed to be the critical success factor in the elite game. But when we look at the SG total at the end of every Tour Event, almost always it is the ‘Approach Play’ stat that is the most dominant.
For many years I had been running an Academy for Elite Players at the Evian Resort in France. Then about 10 years ago I had the opportunity to start working on the European Tour, and my key reflection was that the Tour Players were significantly in a different class than elite players in this area. The young elite players I was coaching could hit impressive drives, and some of them had great touch around the greens, but when it came to approach play, the difference was immense. Since then this has become a key focus in our Coaching Programs and we have developed very involved skill development systems for what I refer to as ‘The Scoring Zone’, which is a combination of ‘Iron Zone and ‘Wedge Zone’.
Iron Zone refers to short iron play – perhaps 8 iron to PW. Depending upon male or female, boy or girl, the distance can vary so feel free to adapt it where necessary, but at Tour and Elite Player level I set this at 125 – 175 meters. I think for Elite Junior level 100 -150 meters is the distance I would recommend. Wedge Zone refers to PW to LW shots, and at Tour and Elite Player level I set this at 50 – 125 meters, but again adapt this where necessary and for Elite Juniors 50 – 100 meters would be a good range. These added together are then the Scoring Zone (so for Tour or Elite Players 50 – 175m).
It is important to develop a distance control system, and then consequently a ‘Distance Grid’ for your Scoring Zone work - in the video I outline different ways Tour Players do this. Then it is critical to develop a feedback – or measuring system – so that every time you play you know your ‘Scoring Zone’ score. At Tour and Elite Player level, we use a system for 50 -125m whereby within 3m is a ‘birdie’ (-1), 3 to 6m a ‘par (0), an outside 6m a bogey (+1). For Iron Zone (125 -175m), a birdie is 4m, a par 4 to 8m and a bogey is outside 8m. Next time you play, record the number of shots you have and then your score. To shoot sub-par, we are seeing a score of near ‘level par’ in the Scoring Zone is necessary.
One of the key mantra’s at Elite Coaching is ‘Lowest Score Wins Most Money’. To be a successful tournament player, you have to be committed to a mindset of looking to reduce your score. If you can constantly improve your scoring average every 3 months you will almost definitely enjoy sustained success. So focus on polishing on refining the Scoring Zone area of your game and you will create more birdie opportunities and reduce your score.
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