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Most golfers are constantly seeking ways to improve, whether that’s low-handicappers on a mission to get to scratch or better, or higher-handicappers looking to break 80 or 90 for the first time. In almost all cases, getting lessons with a qualified professional will accelerate the process, but it’s also vital to have an accurate insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your game.
That’s where data comes in very handy. Shot-tracking technology allows users to review every round they play and identify the areas that are costing them shots. Coaches too can use this information to inform their lessons and potentially expedite the pupil's journey towards lower scores. Two coaches who have already felt the benefit when trying to guide and track golfers’ progress are Lewis Bird and Olivia Pearson of Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club.
And it all starts before a ball has even been struck. Rather than spending precious minutes during a lesson trying to diagnose an issue, they are using data gained from Arccos Caddie to prepare ahead of time, ensuring pupils get value for money as well as the best advice possible.
“We've got the dashboard up in the shop all the time,” Lewis says. “So every time someone plays a round that we've got linked to the system, it just channels them through so we can have a look.
“You can flick through it super easy and you can go into a client’s last round and see that their strokes gained driving and iron play was great, for example, but their approach play or short game might have been terrible.
“So I can look before I go to the lesson and then say, ‘I looked at your data, it shows that you've played quite well on the weekend, but it looks like there's a couple of bits we need to iron out’.
“And then you get the occasional student who gets massively into it and looks at their Arccos stats every time. Once you get people into it, they end up understanding the data themselves as well, which obviously helps.”
Olivia agrees and has also noticed a common trap golfers fall into, adding: “It definitely informs the lesson. Arccos provides data that actually is going to help their games rather than when people just come and say, ‘Oh, my driving was shocking’. Well, actually, if we look at your putting, you’re losing a lot more strokes and you’ll probably improve quicker if we look at that.”
This is made all the easier now with the constant improvements Arccos is making to the user experience. This includes a more detailed suite of putting stats that means there is no excuse for golfers to neglect the flat-stick, or any part of the game for that matter.
Such is the precision of the analysis that amateurs now have the same information at their fingertips that the best players in the world use to gain an edge. Strokes gained remains a relatively new phenomenon but has quickly replaced traditional stats, helping coaches paint a full picture of their pupils’ games.
“Strokes gained isolates shots much more than traditional stats and shows where you’re going wrong,” says Olivia. “For example, you might have three-putted somewhere but is that because your approach game is leaving you too far away? It really highlights the weaknesses.”
“Definitely, 100%,” Lewis affirms. "It's measurable as well, so you can actually see if you're getting better. When I was a junior I used to come off the golf course and check how many putts I had, how many greens I hit, and how many fairways I hit - those were the three really that everyone used to focus on. It’s alright saying you've had 22 putts but if you've had 17 chips, it doesn't make a difference.
“I teach people who are quite good at chipping and putting, but put them in a bunker and they struggle. With this you can actually categorise it. Rather than going, ‘I made three up and downs today’, you made two up and downs from the edge of the green, but in a bunker or over a bunker you only make one out of five.”
And it’s not just strategy and practice habits that can be better honed using Arccos, Lewis and Olivia are able to gain an understanding of potential swing issues plaguing a golfer just by tracking their recent tendencies.
“It's good to know somebody's miss, right? I think you get quite a lot of people that say their iron play is rubbish or whatever it is. Well what’s the common bad shot and where's your miss? Generally, probably 60% of the time, it's right due to a bit of a slicing motion.
“So you can definitely look at the data and you could give a pretty good estimate on what the path is doing and what the face is doing. You obviously wouldn't know a few other bits but you can probably look at a person versus how far they're hitting it and realise if something's not quite right.
“For example, if you get a guy who's six foot two and ripped who's only hitting it to 240 yards, there's got to be something a little bit wrong with strike or something else. So I think you can make a pretty good estimate, especially if you're a half-decent coach, of knowing people’s golf swings.”
So, from two Arccos users to the masses of others out there, what are some of the best stats to track?
“With Arccos you can obviously see if your miss is short or long,” comments Olivia. “I don’t think people quite take into consideration how important being pin high is. It shows you which distances that you’re weakest at, so you might not struggle from 50 yards but be rubbish from 100 yards and it really pinpoints where you are losing those shots. Proximity to the hole either long or short is really important.”
On a slightly simpler note, Lewis adds: “Nobody comes to a lesson and says, ‘I only hit 10 greens at the weekend’. I can't tell you the last person who said that to me, or anything like that.
“And then I think what people don't realise is if they hit two more greens in reg a round, they're going to save themselves as much as five shots because they'll have two less chips and whatever else. I think that's an important one.”
Ultimately, as both Olivia and Lewis tell me repeatedly, the reason Arccos is such a useful tool for golfers and coaches in the lesson environment is because it removes the uncertainty. It allows for evidence-based coaching, void of bias and wasted pursuits, and gives golfers the best chance of success, whatever that may be.
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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