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Golfers are Getting Better, Handicaps are Dropping

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@iacas, I am interested  in your opinion on "when" you think instruction has gotten better. I do agree it has gotten better, smarter people are much more recognized now as being worth listening to. Also the the ubiquity of slow motion cameras. But I think it is a recent trend, I am wondering your opinion?

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1 minute ago, mchepp said:

@iacas, I am interested  in your opinion on "when" you think instruction has gotten better. I do agree it has gotten better, smarter people are much more recognized now as being worth listening to. Also the the ubiquity of slow motion cameras. But I think it is a recent trend, I am wondering your opinion?

I think the last ten years have seen a boom in this type of stuff.

FlightScope/Trackman came into their own. High-speed cameras became affordable, as did software to handle them (hello, Analyzr Golf!), golf instructors finally took to the Internet so that they could collaborate and share (well, 95% of them still just argue and compare dick sizes or something, but 5% of the conversation is good). The stats from guys like Broadie and, well, Dave and I are helping people to practice the right things, too, and play more strategic golf. Juniors are getting better instruction from the outset (though I do think some leap fully into golf a bit too early).

For students the boom of the Internet has been both good and bad. They've gotten exposed to people who are good at what they do, and are able to learn from them even though they might live 2,000 miles away, but they're also been exposed to far, far more information than they should have to handle, given that they're just golfers, not instructors themselves.

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If you read James Sieckmann's book "Your Short Game Solution", which BTW is perhaps the best instructional book I have read, he talks about years of observing tour players and forming opinions that were different from the conventional wisdom and that now with new technology those non-conventional views are being proved to be true.

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It's not so much that golfers are getting better, than there are more better golfers. One reason might be that attitudes have changed in that more are interested in improving owing to better informed instructors, equipment, testing parameters e.t.c. In the past, many considered golf a mere past time and to some extent not as competitive. It was the opportunity for leisure, comradery.  Social media, golf forums, the onslaught of gimmickry, have brought it all to the fore front (Pun intended). More interest brings more wanting to improve so that those so inclined will devote more effort taking advantage of more available instruction. Golf is more of a sport now, and in general, more people are somewhat sports oriented than before. Also, commercial marketing and merchandise is a lot more prevalent than the bygone days of Wilson, Ram, Top Flight, Spalding e.t.c.  Even for those who really are not into competition, the availability of portable swing monitors, GPS watches, range finders make golf interesting and one can enjoy a round solo owing to the instant feedback.   "It's not your father's Oldsmobile" anymore.

Edited by Hacker James

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3 hours ago, gbogey said:

If you read James Sieckmann's book "Your Short Game Solution", which BTW is perhaps the best instructional book I have read, he talks about years of observing tour players and forming opinions that were different from the conventional wisdom and that now with new technology those non-conventional views are being proved to be true.

Yeah, hooey. He's teaching the same stuff Phil Rodgers teaches, which is the same stuff Dave learned, and the same stuff I teach. Basically. Very few and very small differences.

I'm glad you like the book, but it's really not new. James deserves credit for the pictures, the way he's worded things, etc. And those things are difficult to get right, to reach students. But the information itself, the methods, are not "new."

And his spider thing re: green reading is dead wrong. 🙂 Oh, but that's in his putting book. 😄

1 hour ago, Hacker James said:

It's not so much that golfers are getting better, than there are more better golfers.

So… golfers are getting better.

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6 hours ago, Hacker James said:

It's not so much that golfers are getting better, than there are more better golfers. 

 

5 hours ago, iacas said:

So… golfers are getting better.

I think what @Hacker James means is that even if handicaps on the whole aren't seeing dramatic improvements, that there are more golfers that attain lower handicaps.  The best way I can describe this is with major league baseball pitchers. The highest fastball thrown is still right about 104 mph and there are 2 guys in league who can throw that hard. Where it used to be each team had 2 or 3 guys that could throw mid to upper 90's now each team has 5 to 7 guys that throw that hard.  I remember when I was in junior college I was blown away by how many guys on each team threw between 92 - 96 mph. This shift in average speed will raise the average fastball speed in the major leagues because their numbers are limited.  But this shift in golf may not even be noticed by looking at the numbers because there can be more players attaining a lower handicap, but there can also be an influx of new golfers that offset that average and make it appear as though golfers aren't getting better across the board when they actually are.  

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6 hours ago, Righty to Lefty said:

But this shift in golf may not even be noticed by looking at the numbers because there can be more players attaining a lower handicap, but there can also be an influx of new golfers that offset that average and make it appear as though golfers aren't getting better across the board when they actually are. 

That ignores the fact that the average handicap has gone down. So the numbers are changing.

Look if you have 10 players and their games are rated A, B, B, C, C, C, C, D, D, F and then ten years later you have ten players and their games are A, A, A, B, B, B, C, D, D, F, then golfers got better and there are "more good golfers."

The only possible argument I could see against the numbers are that more of the higher handicappers, the guys who aren't as devoted to the game perhaps, have left golf, thus lowering the average, but without "golfers" actually getting much "better."

But I don't see that in the stats - not with the number of rounds played, or the average golfer, etc.

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On ‎1‎/‎10‎/‎2016 at 10:47 PM, iacas said:

So, there you have it. Regardless of the reasons - which I may or may not even have sniffed - golfers are getting better.

CRAP! I was hoping I was the only one getting better. 

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7 hours ago, Righty to Lefty said:

 

I think what @Hacker James means is that even if handicaps on the whole aren't seeing dramatic improvements, that there are more golfers that attain lower handicaps.  The best way I can describe this is with major league baseball pitchers. The highest fastball thrown is still right about 104 mph and there are 2 guys in league who can throw that hard. Where it used to be each team had 2 or 3 guys that could throw mid to upper 90's now each team has 5 to 7 guys that throw that hard.  I remember when I was in junior college I was blown away by how many guys on each team threw between 92 - 96 mph. This shift in average speed will raise the average fastball speed in the major leagues because their numbers are limited.  But this shift in golf may not even be noticed by looking at the numbers because there can be more players attaining a lower handicap, but there can also be an influx of new golfers that offset that average and make it appear as though golfers aren't getting better across the board when they actually are.  

something like that. Akin to a different "field", more interest, more golfers. Golf is now more in vogue, than say bowling. Now there are more high schools with golf teams, along with a variety of sports as well. Physical well being is more prevalent, dedicated exercise regimen. Not that there wasn't before, but there is just more focus on it.

39 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

CRAP! I was hoping I was the only one getting better. 

well, I know where I stand. Prolly won't change all that much as I am chronologically impaired, even though I am a better ball striker with a decent short game. Less stamina and all that normal stuff.

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I'm not in the industry, but I've been following social media on the instruction front steadily and it's something that interests me, and I'm seeing more and more good information out there. Not surprised handicaps are going down. It would be interesting to see the distribution - are more people with high handicaps getting better or more people who are already at say 10 getting better? I'm guessing that that segment of people who really want to get better, but couldn't find good instruction, are having an easier time of it compared to say 10 years ago. OTOH you go to a typical range and there is still a lot of bad information floating around.

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1 hour ago, Hacker James said:

Akin to a different "field", more interest, more golfers. Golf is now more in vogue, than say bowling.

I don't think there are "more golfers" now than 20 years ago.

1 hour ago, Hacker James said:

Now there are more high schools with golf teams, along with a variety of sports as well. Physical well being is more prevalent, dedicated exercise regimen. Not that there wasn't before, but there is just more focus on it.

Kids are fatter than ever.

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I haven't seen the data in a while, but while overall rounds have been down over the years rounds by golfers who play often (20+ times annually) were steady.  Frequent players tend to be better players and so natural attrition will force the average up.

But technology is clearly playing a role.  I haven't been playing long enough (only 9 years) but in that time I've seen ball and club technology shorten courses, meaning that it you can keep the ball straight enough (easy to say) that golf is easier.  The pro game has become a Driver / wedge game.  I would argue for mid-low handicappers the game is becoming driver / short iron.  Again I haven't been playing long enough but from what I read and hear this is much different than 20 years ago and Driver / short iron is a heck of a lot easier for me than Driver / Hybrid (and I do hybrids pretty well).  So maybe that's another golf establishment myth - technology hasn't made the game easier for the amateur.

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12 hours ago, iacas said:

I don't think there are "more golfers" now than 20 years ago.

Kids are fatter than ever.

I would be willing to bet that there are more golfers than 20 years ago due to this guy named Tiger Woods. The worldwide appeal of golf is vastly underrated in the U.S. because of basketball, football, and baseball.

Kids may be fatter than ever, but they are also bigger faster and stronger than ever.  More and more athletes are choosing golf and as long as athletes continue to be injected into golf, the golfers will continue to get better. This is true of any sport though and not just golf.  

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1 hour ago, Righty to Lefty said:

Kids may be fatter than ever, but they are also bigger faster and stronger than ever

This may be true. But what has probably decreased dramatically is the ‘learn it from the dirt’ type kids. Hand me down clubs, tennis shoes and a Sunday bag was the norm. All over now I see kids in golf pants, premium clubs, shoes and taking lessons. Lessons with video, monitors, which I think are producing better players. 

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Just now, Vinsk said:

This may be true. But what has probably decreased dramatically is the ‘learn it from the dirt’ type kids. Hand me down clubs, tennis shoes and a Sunday bag was the norm. All over now I see kids in golf pants, premium clubs, shoes and taking lessons. Lessons with video, monitors, which I think are producing better players. 

Absolutely but that is to be expected. When I refer to the athletic side of things all that speaks to is the fact that the physical traits of the people picking golfer are ever changing. That in conjunction with better gear, lessons, and tech will create better players on the whole and this is relevant to all sports. The next "Tiger" will be a bigger, faster, stronger version with the same mental make up and internal drive to be great that he has. A "learn it from the dirt" type of golfer has almost no shot in this day and age unless the person is athletically superior by far and relentlessly motivated.  

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7 hours ago, Righty to Lefty said:

I would be willing to bet that there are more golfers than 20 years ago due to this guy named Tiger Woods. The worldwide appeal of golf is vastly underrated in the U.S. because of basketball, football, and baseball.

The Tiger boom occurred and then waned. The recession hurt golf participation. Courses closed, golf got smaller. Maybe not literally smaller than 1998, but close.

And kids do less physical activity now than 20 years ago by far. That’s a big part of why they’re fatter. They’re not appreciably bigger (muscular/height), faster, stronger in one generation.

Let’s be sure to stay on topic, too.

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

The Tiger boom occurred and then waned. The recession hurt golf participation. Courses closed, golf got smaller. Maybe not literally smaller than 1998, but close.

And kids do less physical activity now than 20 years ago by far. That’s a big part of why they’re fatter. They’re not appreciably bigger (muscular/height), faster, stronger in one generation.

Let’s be sure to stay on topic, too.

Two words Zion Williamson...I'll just leave that there...the reason why I feel that the bigger faster stronger statement is relevant to this topic is because it is proof that golfers have to be improving because the athletes are starting out more physically dominant and thus if these athletes are choosing golf, which they are among other sports, then golfers are getting better, especially as you move up through the levels towards playing on tour.  The Pro golfers are better than they were a generation ago absolutely.  Lebron James was 6 foot 8 250 when he entered the league...Zion Williamson is 6 foot 6 285 with just as much athletic talent if not more in just one generation. Cameron Champ is golf's proof of that in one generation in golf as he is 20 yards by Dustin Johnson.  

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1 hour ago, Righty to Lefty said:

Two words Zion Williamson...I'll just leave that there...the reason why I feel that the bigger faster stronger statement is relevant to this topic is because it is proof that golfers have to be improving because the athletes are starting out more physically dominant and thus if these athletes are choosing golf, which they are among other sports, then golfers are getting better, especially as you move up through the levels towards playing on tour.  The Pro golfers are better than they were a generation ago absolutely.  Lebron James was 6 foot 8 250 when he entered the league...Zion Williamson is 6 foot 6 285 with just as much athletic talent if not more in just one generation. Cameron Champ is golf's proof of that in one generation in golf as he is 20 yards by Dustin Johnson.  

I’m not quite sure I agree with “fatter bigger and stronger”?

Leaner more athletic and stronger makes a lot more sense, right?

I mean Dustin Johnson and Rory aren’t big by any metric?

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