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MPR: The Single Digit Project


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A couple of quick updates.

Last weekend, I went to my parents' house to do a self-driver-fitting. As I've noted before, I wanted to do that because I need 1) a place that allows me to swing my driver, because it doesn't fit in my garage, and 2) not in my neighborhood, because I can't risk the popup drive that misses the net and ends up in a neighbor's yard.

I did my setup outdoors, so that any high misses would end up on top of Lake Gogebic:

Unfortunately, this was a bad, bad setup, and ended up being worthless for any fitting. SkyTrak struggles in the sun and doesn't like to look for the ball against a light background. I put it in the worst environment for it, and the numbers it generated  were completely useless (at least I hope). I struggled to get a drive to carry over 200. Given the work I've done on speed, I found this pretty implausible. In addition, I could barely see my laptop screen in the sun. So while it was fun to swing my driver again (and that's worthwhile in itself), I can't say that I made any progress dialing in the driver. I'll need to go back and do the setup in my dad's garage if I'm going to get useful numbers.

In more positive news: I continue to get stronger and fitter. While I've switched from the Amazon Halo band to a Fitbit, I'm still using the Halo app for its body fat scan. In essence, you take a series of pictures of yourself, and Amazon's AI compares them to its database to estimate your body fat percentage. While some have reported odd results, I've found it to be pretty reliable in my case.

In November, I got the Halo and did my first scan. It had me at 25.7% body fat at 170lbs; that's 44lbs of fat. This morning, I was 18.7% body fat at 160lbs (30lbs of fat). So, that would mean I've lost 14lbs of fat. But because I've only lost 10lbs total so far, it means I've gained 4lbs of lean mass.

I'm obviously no Mr. Universe candidate, but I'm quite a bit stronger than when I started working out a few months back. Looking forward to getting on the course!

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1 hour ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

A couple of quick updates.

Last weekend, I went to my parents' house to do a self-driver-fitting. As I've noted before, I wanted to do that because I need 1) a place that allows me to swing my driver, because it doesn't fit in my garage, and 2) not in my neighborhood, because I can't risk the popup drive that misses the net and ends up in a neighbor's yard.

I did my setup outdoors, so that any high misses would end up on top of Lake Gogebic:

Unfortunately, this was a bad, bad setup, and ended up being worthless for any fitting. SkyTrak struggles in the sun and doesn't like to look for the ball against a light background. I put it in the worst environment for it, and the numbers it generated  were completely useless (at least I hope). I struggled to get a drive to carry over 200. Given the work I've done on speed, I found this pretty implausible. In addition, I could barely see my laptop screen in the sun. So while it was fun to swing my driver again (and that's worthwhile in itself), I can't say that I made any progress dialing in the driver. I'll need to go back and do the setup in my dad's garage if I'm going to get useful numbers.

In more positive news: I continue to get stronger and fitter. While I've switched from the Amazon Halo band to a Fitbit, I'm still using the Halo app for its body fat scan. In essence, you take a series of pictures of yourself, and Amazon's AI compares them to its database to estimate your body fat percentage. While some have reported odd results, I've found it to be pretty reliable in my case.

In November, I got the Halo and did my first scan. It had me at 25.7% body fat at 170lbs; that's 44lbs of fat. This morning, I was 18.7% body fat at 160lbs (30lbs of fat). So, that would mean I've lost 14lbs of fat. But because I've only lost 10lbs total so far, it means I've gained 4lbs of lean mass.

I'm obviously no Mr. Universe candidate, but I'm quite a bit stronger than when I started working out a few months back. Looking forward to getting on the course!

Really impressive body mass changes!   I'd be curious to know changes to your blood pressure and resting heart rate too.  Mike Carroll put out an article on TPI a while ago that talked about cardiovascular endurance training translating poorly to golf fitness or golf improvement, but I would have to think you're going to feel fresher and less fatigued on 15, 16, 17, and 18 than you might have before.  I think I recall you (and Kirke) are walkers right?

Congrats either way.  Looking forward to following your on-course results.

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19 minutes ago, Getoffmylawn said:

Really impressive body mass changes!   I'd be curious to know changes to your blood pressure and resting heart rate too.  Mike Carroll put out an article on TPI a while ago that talked about cardiovascular endurance training translating poorly to golf fitness or golf improvement, but I would have to think you're going to feel fresher and less fatigued on 15, 16, 17, and 18 than you might have before.  I think I recall you (and Kirke) are walkers right?

Congrats either way.  Looking forward to following your on-course results.

Resting heart rate is a huge improvement. Here's November, when I first got my Halo:

SmartSelect_20210324-131101_Amazon Halo.jpg

And here is the last 30 days on my Fitbit:

SmartSelect_20210324-131148_Fitbit.jpg

I should take the opportunity, next time I'm in Walmart, to use the blood pressure machine (unless, I suppose, those have been closed for COVID; I haven't checked).

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2021 Goals

Here's the final post in my preseason trilogy. So far, I've recapped my offseason work and written on the things I want to get done in preparation for opening day. Now, it's time for some statistical benchmarks for my upcoming season.

Let's start with the big picture. Here are my Arccos numbers for my final 25 rounds of last year compared to scratch:

image.png

Let's break it down.

Driving

This has been and remains my biggest liability. Arccos thinks I have both distance and accuracy problems:

image.png

Distance is a problem.

image.png

But as I've written before, this is somewhat misleading. Our course takes driver out of play a lot. The most extreme example is Hole 2, an incredibly short hole with a greater than 90° dogleg:

hole2.jpg

It's a PW to the corner. There are no other choices; the area off the fairway is thick tall forest. Going over is simply not a realistic option. So this hole (and others like it, though this is the most extreme) make it difficult to gain strokes driving.

That said, I can't excuse everything by blaming the course. If I go to club stats, Arccos tells me that my normal shot with a driver is 233 yards. For those following this thread for a while, you'll know that's an improvement. But it's not enough. So then

GOAL 1: Arccos driver distance of 250.

Given the improvements I've made on swing speed and fitness, I think this is a realistic goal.

On accuracy, the killer miss for me is always the left miss off the tee.

image.png

GOAL 2: Get the left miss number under 20%. Aim for 60% fairways hit.

Approach

Approach play was my second biggest weakness this past season. The problem isn't hard to find:

image.png

I miss a lot of greens. I'm always going to miss a lot of greens relative to handicap, because the greens at my home course are both tiny and mostly domed. That's how the course defends itself, given it's short length. But the 52% short number: that has to improve. And I think it needs radical action, so let's cut that in half:

GOAL 3: Get missed greens short under 25%.

GOAL 4: Increase GIRs to 35%.

The second number there is pretty modest, but I would be a marked improvement. In general, if I fight hard against missing short (including having good estimates of my club distances and improving my consistency of strike), GIRs will rise considerably.

Short Game

My goal here is maintenance. Arccos has me losing 1.5 strokes to a scratch golfer from 50 yards and in. So let's say:

GOAL 5: Finish the season with a SG Short of -1.5 or better compared to scratch.

Putting

This one is also maintenance, but with a twist. In general, I consider myself a very solid putter:

image.png

My putts/hole numbers are definitely skewed by my high missed greens. But even breaking it down by distance, I'm not losing much compared to a scratch golfer:

image.png

Two issues: I'm not great at short putts. That must improve.

GOAL 6: Finish the season with SG:Putting from 1-10ft of -.3 or better compared to scratch.

The other issue is that it dawned on me at the end of last year that my putting stats were inflated because I was inaccurately pacing off putts. My procedure is to putt my first putt, then step it off to the hole to measure the distance to record in Arccos. What dawned on my is that while my first stride from back heel to front toe is about a yard, the next step (and every one after) is shortened by the length of my foot. That means that all my putting stats from last season are skewed in my favor. So maintenance would indicate improvement. Thus, 

GOAL 6: Finish the season with an overall SG:Putting no worse than -1.6 compared to scratch.

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  • 1 month later...

If you're within range of what Arccos determines is a GIR, and you lay up, does it add to your short of greens stat?  

Is there a way to go back and tell Arccos that you laid up?  I always wondered if that was contributing to some of my high short of green %. 

 

Otherwise, looks like one more club may improve those stats instantly.  

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 4/28/2021 at 3:30 PM, knightsofnii said:

If you're within range of what Arccos determines is a GIR, and you lay up, does it add to your short of greens stat?  

Is there a way to go back and tell Arccos that you laid up?  I always wondered if that was contributing to some of my high short of green %. 

 

Otherwise, looks like one more club may improve those stats instantly.  

Hmm. Little late with the reply from me here 🙂

Yeah, I'm certain that this can be a factor, and I don't know exactly where the cutoff is for Arccos to think something is an approach shot. I'd like to think that they take into consideration 1) the distance I'm hitting from and 2) the club that I've pulled. So if I'm 250 out and pull a 7 iron for a layup, Arccos knows good and well that I'm not possibly going for the green there. But I don't know on the inside how those calculations are done.

Quickly pulling up my last five rounds, I'm seeing some improvement in club selection/consistent impact:

image.png

For reference (see above), I was:

  • 5% Long
  • 12% Left
  • 25% GIR
  • 7% Right
  • 52% Short

So while my GIRs are actually down over the past five rounds, I'm hitting almost 55% of my shots the right distance, as opposed to 44% at the end of last season.

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  • 3 months later...

Update and Announcement

I've done a terrible job keeping this thread updated this season. But here's the reality: there's almost nothing to update. I've been playing regularly; Kirke and I get out a couple of times a week for nine holes. I've sneaked in an occasional 18.

But my progress has almost entirely stalled. As of this morning, Arccos has me as a 13 handicap. At then end of last year, I was down just under 12.

On the plus side, I've definitely gotten longer this season, especially with clubs other than driver. My putting has been really good: statistically, it is down from last season, but as I've written before, I was overestimating my length of putts last year as I paced them off incorrectly. In general, my short game has been a major strength, and that is with an uneven commitment to my clock wedge system (for reasons both in and out of my control).

But my full swing, both off the tee and approach, has been no good. At different points this season, I've had both left and right tendencies. My GIR number hasn't budged much. My missed greens short has dropped fractionally, so that I'm missing left/right but with the correct distance more often.

Off the tee, I've hit some nice drives. Just yesterday, I played from the white tees for the first time this season. On the last hole, an uphill hole, I hit this:

image.png

So that was fun. My Arccos driver "smart distance" is 243. But my overall "distance off the tee" number (which finished last season at 200 yards) has stretch all the way to...202.

So I think it's time to admit: I need help. I started this thread with the ambition to see if I could get to single figures just with research and practice. The answer, at least right now, appears to be: nope.

So, my update: I've just begun to work with a coach named Jayson Nickol. He has studied under Shauheen Nakjavani,

What am I hoping for from this? To be honest, I'm not expecting him to tell me a bunch of stuff that I don't know. I don't want that to come across the wrong way. But honestly: the first lesson video he gave me suggested changes to my swing that I quite expected.

The difference: accountability. I now have a reason to work specifically on those things, and not give up on making needed swing changes because they're uncomfortable and I just want to play.

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6 hours ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

What am I hoping for from this? To be honest, I'm not expecting him to tell me a bunch of stuff that I don't know. I don't want that to come across the wrong way. But honestly: the first lesson video he gave me suggested changes to my swing that I quite expected.

I think that's a very astute observation. Your knowledge of the golf swing is pretty extensive, and I'm sure if you could only "just make your swing match the picture in your head" (a thought I've had about a thousand times lol) it would probably be a super legit swing.

For what it's worth, I can see some similarities between our personalities (except you know more than me haha), and one thing having a specific teacher helped a ton with was staying focused. When my swing has had rough stretches, it's usually after I try to change 78 different things all in 2 range sessions. They're probably mostly based in sound logic, but having the focus of narrowing in on just a few thoughts and concepts for an extended period of time has been really helpful for me. 

Excited to hear more about your experience with Jayson, and hope his style works well for you!

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So here's a compilation of the swings that I sent to Jayson:

He requested a full speed and slow motion from DTL and FO. Here were some comments I made about these swings in another thread here, before I heard back from Jayson:

  • I'd like to see the club outside my hands on the backswing and then shallow. It's not awful or unplayable, but my path is still inside on the backswing and out-to-in on the downswing. The path results in either a playable cut or (if the face closes) a nuclear pull. You can see this on the first two DTL swings: the first is a pull, the second a push-fade.
  • On the face on: I think it would be beneficial if my entire upper body and head didn't slide down the line into impact. On iron shots, it tends to be reasonably playable: it gives me a sharply downward AoA. But I suspect that that move is part of the explanation for my driver woes.

What Jayson has me working on is related to the need to shallow in transition. But helpfully, he's pairing that with an emphasis on getting more bowing in the left wrist; getting more shallow without changing wrist angles would just open my clubface. He noted (rightly) that in my present swing (more evident from face on), my chest is almost directly down at the ball at impact. I have to stall my chest rotation there to let my hands catch up and square the face. So if I can square the face earlier (with the bowing of the wrist), I can turn through the ball more freely.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, this is mostly stuff I kinda knew, but having someone that I'm going to report back to give me a stronger incentive to work on this and keep working on it, even when my older swing feels better for me.

Given what Jayson had assigned to me, it seems like a good time to break out the PlaneMate again. When I first got the PlaneMate, I worked with it a bit, but really fell off the wagon entirely once the season started. But I brought it back out to the garage today. I think it's worth looking at these two swing sequence images:

If you open that tweet and switch back and forth between the two sequences, you'll see that my swing route is exactly the opposite in both. Jayson has cautioned me about getting too laid off at the top with the newer move; I need to take some video after working with the PlaneMate without having the PlaneMate attached. I'm hoping that I can get that lead wrist position with perhaps a more neutral position of the shaft at the top. But otherwise, that second sequence makes so much more sense.

Chatting with Jayson today, the immediate plan is to continue ingrained the new move. With that, I want to work with foot spray: my impact is currently a bit erratic with the new sequence, so that's going to need to get better. My plan is to work on differential training (purposefully hitting the toe, heel, center, high, low) for that. Then, as the move becomes less mechanical and more mine, the swing needs to get more fluid and speedy. Initially, these swings have been very rigid: I've felt like I'm holding my wrists in certain positions, etc. That's no good. I'm making a transition to letting these positions happen instead of making them happen. But I think that only comes with reps.

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  • 4 months later...

I've been, um, busy.

But now it's the dead of winter, so it's time for me to start posting in the Forum again!

This will be a quick one. I've still been working with Jayson Nickol on Skillest. I've enjoyed it; he is also pretty nerdy and technical about golf, so that's a good fit. I'm hoping to get in a good garage session tomorrow (temps are getting to a balmy 26°, so I want to take advantage of that).

Christmas break was rough for my golf routine. We had a week+ of travel and managed to snag a case of COVID on the way (it was very mild and I was over it in a couple of days, for which I'm grateful). But now that I'm home again, I'm trying to get back to a routine in which I roll several dozen putts and make a few dozen swings (much often, with either PlaneMate, the DivotBoard, other training aids, or a combo pack of them) every day to keep engraining new swing patterns.

I got a bag of foam balls. Those are fun to hit inside.

I like how I'm turning here (the camera position ain't ideal). Wrist angles are a little sloppier than they were a month+ ago; I'll be working to get that flatter feel back in the lead wrist.

 

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Man, I have not been following this thread enough! Great stuff MPR!!! 

Hoping I can finally return to form and scratch my way closer to single digits as well. Best of luck in '22!

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Getting back to working on the things I'm supposed to be working on. Took a few swings this morning focusing almost exclusively on my wrist angles. Aiming to get the lead wrist flat to slightly bowed, to get the club set at the top for a more rotation-based swing.

1642698959110.jpg

Quibbles:

  • I'd love to see my rear end/hips not come off the back line through impact. (Related: to keep my head from going out toward the ball.) This here is monumentally better than it has been in the past, but if I could keep my body back, I'd have more space for my hands to come through.
  • Strike was poor here, out on the toe. I'm using the Pro version of the Tour Striker 7 iron training club. If you've seen this before, you know that it absolutely punishes poor strikes. But I'm trying to work on taking a swing in which I can do the proper move without a ball and transition to doing it with a ball, and that means rebuilding good strike patterns.
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On 1/20/2022 at 10:42 AM, GolfSpy MPR said:

Getting back to working on the things I'm supposed to be working on. Took a few swings this morning focusing almost exclusively on my wrist angles. Aiming to get the lead wrist flat to slightly bowed, to get the club set at the top for a more rotation-based swing

Quibbles:

  • I'd love to see my rear end/hips not come off the back line through impact. (Related: to keep my head from going out toward the ball.) This here is monumentally better than it has been in the past, but if I could keep my body back, I'd have more space for my hands to come through.

Have you done TPI or other physical assessments to see if there are any physical limitations leading to the early extension towards the ball? Working on hips and core could be more important than trying to ingrain a technique or move. 

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19 hours ago, BMart519 said:

Have you done TPI or other physical assessments to see if there are any physical limitations leading to the early extension towards the ball? Working on hips and core could be more important than trying to ingrain a technique or move. 

BMart,

I haven't, and it would be interesting.

That said (and I'm absolutely open to correction here), I don't think these screen shots show what is typically called early extension. Extension here would involve a loss of the setup posture, typically meaning that a person stands up with their hips moving toward the ball. If you look at my swing, I normally begin moving my entire body toward the ball while retaining most of my setup posture.

To be sure, there may be a physical limitation that would lead to that, so that your point remains.

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1 hour ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

BMart,

I haven't, and it would be interesting.

That said (and I'm absolutely open to correction here), I don't think these screen shots show what is typically called early extension. Extension here would involve a loss of the setup posture, typically meaning that a person stands up with their hips moving toward the ball. If you look at my swing, I normally begin moving my entire body toward the ball while retaining most of my setup posture.

To be sure, there may be a physical limitation that would lead to that, so that your point remains.

Good point, your head is also lower at impact than address. Could be more of a balance issue and too much weight over the toes that could be fixed with changing intention and technique. 

But adding rotation always warrants consideration around physical capabilities. 

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Impact from the first video I sent to Jayson Nickol and from today. Might have just figured something out: stay tuned for updates.

GridArt_20220127_145258115.jpg

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1 hour ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

Impact from the first video I sent to Jayson Nickol and from today. Might have just figured something out: stay tuned for updates.

GridArt_20220127_145258115.jpg

Gotta be the boots!

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  • 4 weeks later...

We're likely about two months out from opening day here. I would say that right now, I understand more about how the parts of my swing fit together than I have at any point previously. As I said previously, I've been working online with Jayson Nickol (https://skillest.com/app/profile/jayson-nickol); if you're interested in dipping your toe in online lessons without breaking the bank, I think he's certainly worth a look.

In the last two weeks-ish, it's begun to click for me how my lower body has to work to do the things I want to do delivering the club. As I've mentioned above, my swing tendency (from a down-the-line camera view) is to have my entire body sway toward the ball as I reach the top of my backswing. I don't have what is typically identified as early extension, with my hips thrusting forward. But my move creates the same problem: the space in front of my body is constricted, so I have little room to bring my hands through where I'd want them. In addition, the extraneous movement of the body cannot be ideal for consistent contact.

Two lower body ideas that have made a big difference for me:

  • On the backswing, I want my trail hip to get deep. Another way to think of it: when my hips pivot in the backswing, the pivot point is my lead hip, rather than the center of my pelvis or my trail hip. If my trail hip is the pivot point, the lead hip comes forward, toward the ball. (Try it and see if this makes sense.) If my lead hip is the pivot point, my trail hip can get deep on my backswing, which preserves the space in front of me.
  • In transition, I need to feel my trail foot rolling to the inside, so that I'm moving my trail knee toward my lead knee, instead of kicking my trail knee out toward the ball. This idea occurred to me while listening to an episode of Mark Immelman's podcast. A guest of his suggested a drill called the "shinbreaker": at address, put a tipped-over range bucket on your back foot, so that any forward motion of the trail leg will cause your shin to hit the rim of the bucket. It reinforces the correct movement of the trail leg.

Here's a quick wedge video of these ideas working together. The club doesn't quite get as shallow as I would like, but you can see my trail hip deepen through the backswing, and then my trail knee doesn't get too far forward of the line established at address. My head, which almost always is well over the line established at address, actually remain inside it! All in all, even with a wedge, my hands have space clear of my thighs to move through the ball.

EDIT:

Adding a gif of address vs impact:

address and impact.gif

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35 minutes ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

Here's a quick wedge video of these ideas working together

 

swing is looking good!

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Just now, cnosil said:

swing is looking good!

Thanks! Next week is looking slightly warmer (temps in the high 20s most days), so I'm hoping to get some good sim time and see how it's performing.

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