How To Simplify Your Golf Game

I’d like to dramatically simplify your golf game.

I think we’ve become too focused on the swing and the myriad positions and movements we create. There are too many tips, too many analysts, and too many so-called Gurus telling you how to swing the club. It seems we’ve lost sight of the end goal and what we are trying to accomplish.

The solution to simplifying your game, removing all the clutter and confusion, and bringing fun back to your game is to adopt a performance-based approach.

I’ve been talking a lot lately about Performance Based Golf for one reason: It’s the most effective approach I’ve found to make lasting improvement to your game.

Watch the video to see an explanation of performance based golf from one of my seminars.

Performance Based Golf

Performance based golf is the approach that helped me win a second World Long Drive Championship title – nine years after the first one, and coming back from rotator cuff surgery.

It’s what I call a “top-down” approach.

It takes a page from Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and his second habit: Begin with the End in Mind.

The benefit of beginning at the end is that you know where you are going. You know what the outcome should be. It enables you to be proactive and to take control of your game.

Golf Made Simple

Plus, it’s simpler.

Here’s what I mean, and how simple it really is.

In the end, no matter what changes you may be trying to make to your swing, there are only four “ends” you can improve.

That’s it! Just four.

Once you know what these four outcomes are it is relatively easy to evaluate your performance against them. Either you are improving these performance measures, or you are not.

Once you begin to measure your efforts based on how well they improve performance, your job becomes much easier.

Here are the four critical performance outcomes:

    • Center Contact
    • Directional Accuracy
    • Distance Control
    • Shape Control

Keep The Main Thing the Main Thing

In the video I mention the 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle) and how you can use it to help you focus. 80% of your improvement will come from 20% of the game.

Turns out that is very similar to Covey’s third imperative: Put First Things First. Or as Yogi Berra would say, “Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.”

How would that apply to your game?

Are you spraying your driver all over the course?
Don’t fix your swing. Look at one of the four “ends” – your Center Contact. How often do you hit it in the center of the club face?

Missing greens on your approach shots?
Work on your Direction. How often can you land a ball within the width of a green?

3-putting the greens?
Work on your Distance Control. How often can you lag a putt inside a 3-foot circle?

My Long Drive Performance Metrics

When I was preparing for the Worlds I paid attention to just two performance measures:

  • My Smash Factor (which told me how well I was making center contact),
  • and my Ball Speed.

EVERY swing change and equipment tweak I made was evaluated based on how well they improved these numbers.

It wasn’t guess work.
And guess what? It works!

I encourage you to take a look at your game and begin to evaluate the results based on these four performance measures. It’s the next evolution of teaching golf, and you are on the cutting edge.

RELATED POSTS:
Antidote to the Mechanics Trap
The Performance Pyramid
Journey to the Worlds 2012 (see the whole process)

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  1. Peter Taplin
    1 year ago

    Eric,
    Thanks again for these pearls of wisdom. Your key measures of performance sum up perfectly what we need to be doing and not how we do it. This confirms what we can all observe among the top tournament pros. The variety of swings is amazing but the results demonstrate that all have largely mastered the key performance measures. The variety of physiques alone suggests that this is going to be the case. Last year’s ‘Masters’ winner is a wonderful example though undoubtedly unique.


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      1 year ago

      Hi Peter – Thanks for your comment. You are correct – we seem to have lost sight of WHAT we are supposed to be doing, and are spending too much time on the HOW part of the swing equation. Understanding the 4 outcomes – Center Contact, Directional Accuracy, Distance Control, and Shape control keeps the focus where it should be, and provides a framework to assess whether or not any swing change we are making are the right ones. My hope is that I can begin to shift the golf culture towards what makes sense so that more people are happier and having more fun playing golf instead of getting confused in the details of the swing. Thanks again!


  2. Mike Harris (Germany)
    1 year ago

    Hi Eric,

    I started playing when I was about 45, I was realy quite bad, this was maybe because my first Wife , would buy me Golf balls or a Glove for presents but hated me playing, so I only played about once a month my playing partners would play twice or more each week.
    Now 76 (tomorrow) , I have a new German Wife who likes me to play as often as I want , problem here is lack of courses but with much pratice my short game is getting quite good , putting was never a problem and can go round a local 6 hole par three practice course in an ave of 22.3, (par 18), .
    The holes rang from 70 Mtrs to 165 Mtrs ( this I can reach with my 3 Wood ) on a good day,
    so to any one who feels like chucking their clubs in the bin , I say it’s never to late to improve..

    Happy Golfing

    Mike Harris in the “Black Forest” Germany.


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      1 year ago

      Hi Mike – Sounds like you made a great upgrade. Welcome to the family. If you ever have any golf questions, use the Comments box at the bottom of the videos. Cheers!


  3. Fritz
    1 year ago

    I took Eric’s driver clinic and after two small adjustments, one you would never think of, Eric had me consistently hitting the ball in the center of the club face and on a good trajectory. The clinic is well worth the price.


  4. John Lundsten
    1 year ago

    Eric,
    I really enjoy your analysis. I have trouble with both distance control and accuracy on chip shots. Some instructors suggest planning to land the ball in the same place on the green (two or three feet on) each time you chip, letting it run to the hole. This means you use the same swing each time but change the club depending upon the distance between the landing point and the hole. The second technique encourages use of the same club for each chip but vary the face loft and swing to match the distance to the hole. Do you have an opinion about which is the more reliable method? Change the club or change rthe swing?


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      1 year ago

      Hi John – Great question about using different clubs or the same club when chipping around the green.
      Let me put it to you differently.
      The MOST IMPORTANT of the four performance outcomes (Center Contact, Distance, Direction, Shape) for chipping is Distance Control. The reason is that most amateurs are farther away from the hole short or long than they are left to right.
      So the performance measure we use is “How many out of 10 can you stop within 6 feet of the hole?”
      In my informal polling, which includes PGA Tour players, about half chip to a spot, and about half to the flag. The majority use different clubs for different distances.
      But the best answer is the one that works best for you.
      So I suggest you conduct a series of “chip-offs.” Hit 10-ball sets and compare the results. Let the performance results be your guide, rather than what some “guru” has to say.
      Keep us posted!


  5. Tom Hunt
    1 year ago

    I have a lot of trouble hitting my 3 wood from the fairway. When I hit it well it’s great, but I normally top the ball. Please help me solve this problem.


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      1 year ago

      Hi Tom – Topping is a common issue with the 3-wood. And that’s exactly what I was talking about in the video. You have a “contact” issue. You need to find out how to hit the ball in the middle of the club face with your 3-wood. It may turn out that there is a swing issue. But at least you are starting with the right question: How do I make contact with the middle of the club face? Just asking that question and then focusing on the answer when you practice will allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of whatever swing changes you are making. I’d start with the obvious one first: Keeping your eye on the back of the ball AT IMPACT. It’s surprising how many golfers take their eyes off the ball just before impact. Sometimes it is the body rotation that turns the head right before contact. Sometimes it is too much concern with the shot outcome. Other simple changes to experiment with would be to move the ball back or forward in your stance, or to move farther from or closer to the ball. These are set-up changes, which are simple to implement. And it may mean you don’t have to change your swing at all.
      This is what I mean about simplifying the game. Rather than start monkeying around with all kinds of swing changes and focusing on getting the movement right, focus on getting the contact right.


  6. Warren
    1 year ago

    Excellent article. I will try to use this as a centering device. That is, mentally remind myself every time I do not go back to this list for my game or practice routines.


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      1 year ago

      Thanks Warren! The performance measures are particularly helpful for a post-shot analysis, as well as for organizing practice sessions. It always comes back to one of these four things. Sometimes that means the swing needs to change. But at least it provides a framework to evaluate whether or not the swing changes are effective.

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