Best Predictors for Performance

What five key stats do the top players in the world have in common?

Risk Reward 18Th Pebble BeachTiger goes for the green. Vijay goes for the green. Phil Mickelson? Yep. Ernie Els? You bet.

According to Jaime Diaz and Steve Evans in a Golf Digest article, careful analysis of Shotlink statistics reveals that five stats in particular are important for high-ranking golfers:

…five others have clearly emerged as leading indicators and predictors of success: “birdie average,” “par breakers,” “par-5 scoring average,” “par-5 birdie percentage” and “going for the green” (the percentage of times a player tries to drive a par 4 or hit a par 5 in two.) In these stats in 2004, the worst ranking recorded by any of the top five players in the world – Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson – was eighth (Goosen in par breakers and Lefty in par-5 birdie percentage). Singh finished first in all but par-5 birdie percentage (Goosen led with 55.3). Woods and Els were in the top five in all five categories.

Your tip of the day? Read the article and apply the knowledge you gain from it to your own game.

Tiger Turns (uhh, 2004 minus 1975 is, uhhh…)

Happy 29th to Tiger Woods, who turns, uhhhh, 29 today.

Tiger and SnoopEldrick “Tiger” Woods was born on this day, December 30, in 1975. Happy 29th, Tiger! Reportedly, Tiger slept in late today before a Swedish nanny named Elin cooked him breakfast in bed.

After breakfast, Tiger spent much of the day celebrating with his close pal from da hood, Snoop Doggy Dogg. Woods was overheard joking with Dogg, saying “fo’ shizzle ma 2-dizzle wizzle pizzle.” Dogg and Woods visited a local municipal mini golf facility, where Tiger was schooled on the ways of the Doggy Dogg lifestyle.

The Sand Trap .com tried to catch up with Woods as he was leaving the eighteenth green, but was brushed aside by a Woods determined to properly inflect the phrase “drop it while it’s hot, drop it while it’s hot.”

Said Dogg on Tiger’s departure, “Tiger had to get his fizzle swizzled by his Norwegian bizzle, yo.” The Sand Trap .com wishes Tiger Woods the best on his 29th and wishes him a wonderful 2005.

Oh, and we wish for ourselves the chance to meet Elin’s twin sister. Yeah.

Photo Credits: © Unknown

Annika Named AP Female Athlete of the Year

For the second straight year, Annika Sorenstam is elected female athlete of the year by the Associated Press.

AnnikaFresh off a year in which she won ten of the twenty events she entered, Annika Sorenstam was named the Associated Press’ Female Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year. Sorenstam won the award easily, earning 40 first place votes while her closest competition garnered only 15 votes. Few athletes in any sport have been as dominating as Sorenstam has. Since 2001, she has logged 38 victories including four majors, topped the money list every year, and entered The World Golf Hall of Fame.

Sorenstam’s first win of the year began at the ANZ Ladies Master’s in Australia. Sorenstam would go on to win nine more times in four different continents. Although Sorenstam did not play enough rounds to qualify for the scoring title, she did tie her record scoring average of 68.7. Yet, Sorenstam refuses to be satisfied saying, “I’m still so far away from it but I’ve come so far ahead of what I ever thought I would.” With so many accomplishments under her belt and a career that is far from over, few can argue with the AP’s choice for the female athlete of the year.

Clean Up Your Chipping With a Towel

Use a towel to learn how to properly control the trajectory and speed of your chips.

Today’s tip of the day comes from well known golf instructor Chuck Cook and is designed to help improve both trajectory and speed control of chips around the green.

Begin with a fairly long chip, forty to fifty feet. Take a regular hand towel and place it some where between the target and ball. The goal is to land the shot on the towel while still having it end up no more than a club length from the hole.

Experiment by positioning the towel closer and farther away from the target to learn how to control the trajectory of your chips. When the towel is closer to the ball, a bump and run with a seven iron or less lofted club is the likely shot. Closer to the hole, a higher chip with a more lofted club such as a wedge is a better choice. Enough practice and you will be hitting bump-and-runs and flops with the best of them.

Who Will Rule in 2005?

Golf World has dubbed Ernie Els as the man to beat in 2005, but with so much talent on the PGA tour, it’s anyone’s year.

Tiger and ErnieThe days of Palmer, Nicklaus, and Player going shot for shot against each other are likely to be remembered as some of the greatest in the history of golf. Now, with the PGA tour set to kick off next week at the Mercedes Championship, it looks as though golf is about to enter another memorable era. The names Player, Nicklaus, and Palmer may very easily be replaced by Woods, Singh, and Mickelson. With all the strong performances in 2004, it is very difficult to point to one player and identify them as the definite favorite. The editors at GolfWorld have dubbed Ernie Els as the man to beat in 2005. The editors point to Els’ great performances but disappointing finishes in last year’s majors as motivation to break through in 2005. His only question mark: whether his globe trotting travel schedule will manage to catch up to him.

Black Balls

Nike may be asking its staff players to use black balls during the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Nike One BlackAccording to GolfWorld, Nike is asking their staff players to use an all-black golf ball at the Sony Open to promote the Nike ONE Black.

This comes on heels of the rumor that all Nike golf balls – from the ONE to the Mojo and TA lines – will be packaged differently in 2005. The rumor says that Nike golf ball 12-packs will ship with 11 regular white balls and one differently colored ball. In the Mojo line, the ball may be orange (see below) and called the “Karma” ball. In the ONE Black line, it will be black.

Here’s to hoping that Nike never develops the Nike ONE Blue, because, well, that’d just be unfortunate.

Nike Mojo

Forward Ball Position Lowers Flight

Ball flight too high? Try moving the ball forward in your stance. Yes, FORWARD!!

This tip comes from our forums, where jcgolfpro talks about high ball flight as a result of ball position being too far back.

Many are focusing on adding loft which produces a weak shot as the ball slides up the clubface and many times it fades. I have a tendency to hit the ball very high but when I start doing that, I know I have slid the ball too far back in my stance. The one thing some have forgotten is “angle of attack.” When we slide the ball too far back, we get a little steep… many times doesn’t hurt majorly but when playing in the wind, we hit a lot of “ballooned” shots.

However, without seeing, I can’t be sure but you can. If you have access to an impact bag, you can feel it yourself. If not, get a cloth laundry bag and fill it with towels and swing into it (using an old club in case something goes wrong). This will provide immediate feedback on your impact position.

Thanks, JC, for the tip!

Bowen’s Balls

An expensive training aid boiled down to tape and a pencil, the Sand Trap way!

The Golf Blogger posted today about the “Bowen Ball Swing Aid.” The BBSA costs “only” $39.95 and is nothing more than a lucite stick. We’re economical (that’s slang for “not completely stupid”), so we advocate creating your own training aid: glue two dowel rods together (one has to fit into that hole in your grip), fold a coat hanger appropriately, etc. Heck, tape a pencil to the top of your grip if you want.

The images on the BBSA “How it Works” page explain the functionality pretty well: one end of the rod goes on the butt of the club, the other leans out perpendicular to the shaft and parallel to the clubface. Take a normal grip and swing, but don’t let the aid touch your arms. If your swing is overly wristy or gets off-plane near the top of your backswing (laid off or across the line), the coat hanger/dowel/expensive piece of plastic will let you know. You’ll, quite literally, feel it.

Now that you’ve saved roughly $39.67, well, buy yourself a dozen good golf balls.

Top 10 Golfers of 2004

The top 10 golfers of 2004 include Meg Mallon, Michelle Wie, Kevin Stadler, and Ryan Moore. Can you guess the other six?

Michelle has published their list of “Top 10 Golfers of 2004.” The list includes:

  • Tiger Woods
  • Vijay Singh
  • Annika Sorenstam
  • Ernie Els
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Meg Mallon
  • Retief Goosen
  • Kevin Stadler

It also includes a pair of amateurs:

  • Michelle Wie
  • Ryan Moore

How would you vote? Discuss it in the comments or in our forum!