Finding the answer to those questions is tough. For mine the big question you should ask yourself at the start of the year is "What is golf to me?" If you answer that question honestly then you are going to be a massive part of the way to finding the next step for you. If golf is just for fun, a "time out" from life if you like, then you are winning and you just get to go and play the game for what it is, a game!! Happy days, go and rip those drives and attack the pins!! If you are a weekend warrior and you are determined to improve your game and get that handicap down to an all time low, it's time for some frank self assessment on what needs improving. My advice is to not sugar coat things, make a list like this one and rank yourself from 1-10....pretty quickly you will see what is the obvious area of focus for you moving into the year.
Medium length putting 6-25ft
Long Putting 25+ft
Long bunker play
Long pitching 40-80m
Shaping the ball
Ok so that list is long enough and covers a pretty good spectrum of the game. Rate yourself and your game against yourself, not against Jason Day, and don't forget, be ruthless. It's the best way to truly find out what you need help with. The good news is that once you have done this you will be able to go to your coach with a lesson plan on what you want/need to work on rather than lobbing up and doing whatever he/she says. Go with a plan and work together on that skill. If your coach is worth a pinch of salt they will be only too happy to help out. If not and they just want to work on your swing as usual, it's time....
With all of the technology out there these days and Trackman and launch monitors becoming just as common as Chris Lynn belting 6's on a cricket field, it's hard to know what sort of technology will best suit you to help you become a better player. I will say this, every player is different. Some people love the numbers game and love to see the stats on where there swing is and what it is doing by numbers. They are then usually good at making changes according to the numbers. I have a trackman myself and yep, amazing device and gives incredible data. You could practice religiously by this machine, having it track every shot and live by that data in order to correct and change looking for the perfect shot. You know what though, nobody in the history of the game has perfected it and nobody will, ever!! I like trackman for various things like checking my carry distance when I get new a new driver or irons or when I have come up with a new shot for me and I want to see how far it is travelling. That is about it for me, my coach however will have trackman running in most of our sessions, what data he is looking for I couldn't tell you and in fact I often say to him during a lesson, "Murray I'm not interested in the numbers, that's your job, all I want to know is if that is what you were wanting and if that feel creates what we were trying to achieve!" I am sure he is looking at something but for me I love playing the game and if my focus is always on the computer, then I miss out on alot of things, namely the awesome way in which we can send that little white ball sailing through the sky!! I believe Trackman has it's place and if you have time to research the numbers and know what you want to see in your shots and this sort of practice inspires you, do it, because you will love it and that's what it's about. Finding the way to feed the passion!!
Another piece of technology that may excite you, especially if you are that way inclined and your frank assessment of your game shows up your putting as your area for improvemnt, is the SAM Putt Lab. It is very much like Trackman but for putting, it gives you all the data in the world about your putting and without question could be very helpful, is very helpful. The big thing with it however is that like Trackman, it doesn't do it for you when the rubber hits the road, you have to be the one to hole the putts when it matters out on course when this putt means breaking your handicap, winning the match, or as Lee Trevino once said, "pressure is when you are playing for $5 when you have nothing in your pocket!" That is when you need that putting to work. My advice is to use the technology but also create pressure situations in your practice so that you have put it to the test in practice meaning your confidence will go up when under the pump on the course with your mates or your enemies!!
Ok so here is my take on something a little different, something that is so left field it's in the next neighbourhood. This might be what you need, or you might laugh this off saying "this guy has lost it!" Before I share this with you I want you to know that there is a hole bunch of stuff that I believe will make you a better player, stuff that doesn't require hours and hours on the range searching for the perfect swing, something most of us, me included will never attain. This little gem is, as I said, a little left field and to be honest I stumbled across it by accident yesterday. So here we go, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour golf game may hold the answers!! Are you laughing yet? The question is will you read on or is that it for you, "This Matt Guyatt guy has lost it!" Well I hope you are still here and reading on as I believe this is absolute gold and will help any golfer at any level improve there game, even Rory himself.
I recently purchased (for the kids of course) an Xbox1 as they are mad fans of FIFA. As time went on though, a couple of days I couldn't resist and got a copy of the Rory McIlroy PGA Tour golf game. I have to say the games these days are unbelievable. The graphics are incredible but also the games within the games are awesome too. In this game you can go into career mode and start your life as a tour pro in Web.com finals and make your way onto the PGA Tour. As you progress you get better equipment contracts, better skills and eventually you start to be able to hold your own against Rory and the best in the world. The other night I ran 10th in a PGA Tour event, however seeing a fellow Aussie in Marc Leishman win made it a "great week!" Ok so I know you might be asking yourself by now, what is this guy rambling on about. Well here it is, here is the little gem I have found and already applied to my own game. I played for a couple of hours and what I didn't realise at the time I was playing, was that parts of the game were becoming ingrained into my head as I played. I can actually now see how hours on war games and shooting games could cause major problems in society as it is kind of like brainwashing. This was good brainwashing, if that's a thing, however and I loved it. I went to golf yesterday at the Grand GC on the Gold Coast and before I knew it Rory's game was having an impact on my golf. You see, as a part of the game when you are watching your player set up to the ball for his shots is that a blue "ball tracer/tracker" shows where you are aiming the ball and also has shape associtated with it depending on the wind you are playing in. Not only that but with a press of a button you can sail through the sky to the landing area and see the affect that wind, or elevation will have on your ball throughout its journey to the hole. It is brilliant for your understanding of those aspects of the game and for your visualisational skills. So without giving it a first thought I stood on the tee at 6am with my 3 wood, looked down the fairway and decided on the shot and hey presto the blue ball track from the game appeared vividly in my minds eye. I simply stepped in and hit to the line and peeled off a perfect fade!! I was amazed at how vivid it was and how something I have really struggled with over the years now was almost happening without me even trying. As the round went on I played around with it, I had the line in the sky and walked in and hit the ball quickly, trying to have zero thoughts other than sending the ball down the ball track line. All from playing a computer game!! The other awesome part was the putting. When playing the game you arrive on the green with the down the line view from behind the ball and the computer generates a "read" for your putt. Once it has the read the putt a white dotted moving line from the ball to the hole appears following the read of the putt. I was amazed that this too started happening on the course, once again a skill I had really struggled with over the years was happening every hole, I really started hitting my lines and holing some putts, all with a short putter too....!! The mental game needs training too!
So maybe this year, go out and get yourself a Trackman, a SAM Putt lab, a new coach and without doubt an Xbox1 and watch your golf improve out of sight!! I personally would just get the Xbox1 and Rory McIlroy PGA Tour golf game. When you start playing and thngs start happening and you dig a little deeper into the computer game you will uncover some other truths and gems about your real golf. I have touched the surface with you on what I have learned playing this game, I have so much more to share but that's for another time and also I don't want to share all my secrets in one hit. For me it is Xbox1 by night and then practice what I have learnt during the day. With Aussie Q School next week in Melbourne I am super keen to put my digital world of learning into full swing, pardon the pun!!