AmaTour Analytics: Champions Circle

I compete on the Golf Channel Am Tour in the Palmer Flight (4-8 handicap). This series follows the golf and how PocketPAR gives insight on tournament play.

Starting off the 2018 season with a win is always a plus, but I’ve found a disturbing trend in my golf…

The round started on 17 for me in the shotgun start format. Three easy holes to start and I made easy, if not frustrating pars. My short game just hasn’t been sharp. A wedge into 17 didn’t make the green and a two-chip on 18 left a 5 footer I was happy to make for par. You have to at least get a birdie look when you’re greenside in two on a par 5.

You know those holes that just don’t fit your eye? Just can’t get comfortable? #2 at Champions Circle is that for me. A tee shot with a narrow shoot favoring a fade makes me uncomfortable. Even if you smash a drive you have a long iron into a well protected green at best. My tee shot is pulled and runs all the way down into a small creek. Take a drop. Still have to lay up. Happy to leave with just a double.

Holes 2 and 3 at Champions Circle

Number 3 would be a great Par 5. It’s a bad Par 4. Into the wind it’s a 230 carry just to reach the fairway, followed by 200+ yards over a creek to a blind green with death left. It’s a bad hole. I smash a drive and a 4hybrid and am still short of the green (but safe). A bad chip leaves me in a tough spot and a 3 putt yields double.

Now this is where strokes gained analysis comes in handy. I’ve just gone +4 over two holes. Time to panic right? Except I know those are two of the hardest holes on the golf course. The field averaged 5.08 and 5.5 on the two holes. Meaning two doubles didn’t lose 4 strokes, it lost just 1.4 stroke to the field. Still not good, but manageable.

Cruise control. I play the next 7 holes at -1. Right back in the tournament with 6 holes to play. Queue the mental mistakes… I’ll make no excuses, I’ve struggled to close out rounds recently. This was no exception.

11. Took 4 shots to get in the hole from 80 yards.
12. Took 4 shots to get in the hole from 5 yards off the green.
13. Loose shot into a hazard.
15. Three putt from 40’.
16. Missed fairway, missed green, missed 5’er for Par.

Just a collection of lost momentum and poor shots. Whether it be a lack of focus or knowing I’m in the hunt, things got shaky, but what got shaky? What part of my game is struggling when the nerves get amped? PocketPAR has the answers.

Strokes Gained scorecard view. Green indicates areas of the green that were good / great during the round,, white indicates average, and red indicates areas and categories where performance was lower than the rest of the round.

Strokes Gained view of the scorecard gives details on the 6 hole struggle. I drove the ball well enough. My approach game left me in bad spots and my putter went cold as indicated by the red / dark red squares.

This is in-line with how I felt during the round. I hit uncommitted shots into the green on 11, 12, and 13. Didn’t feel comfortable with the wind and made half hearted swings.

By the time I got to 13, I felt as if I had shot myself out of the tournament and lost all focus on the putting green with an inexcusable 3-putt. Limped into the house frustrated with my finish.

But I won! How could that be? The reality is that Champions Circle can be a brutal golf course. And while I did all my damage toward the end, the field was struggling with big numbers lurking.

I shot 81. The field average was almost 89. I had gained 7.4 strokes through 12 holes, even with 2 doubles. During my final 6 hole stumble to the clubhouse, I still gained 0.5 strokes on the field.

So I’m happy that my play early in the round carried me, I know the field gifted me this one and I need to get better.

With PocketPAR I know where. If you need me I’ll be committing to iron shots.

Time to #MakeMoreBirdies

Limitations of Apple Watch

Apple Watch is a great innovation and opens up new opportunities when integrated with iPhone golf apps. Unfortunately, it also comes with limitations that dictate the way in which it can be used.

The default behavior of the Apple Watch is to use the iPhone’s GPS location when available (ie. when paired via Bluetooth). This is to conserve battery life and to support Apple Watch Series 1, which does not have integrated GPS. This can be frustrating for golf applications as the yardage from your golf cart or bag does not benefit you if standing over your ball 30 yards away. Unfortunately there is not currently a way to override this feature in software.

This leads to two main ways to utilize the Apple Watch when playing a round of golf with PocketPAR:

1) Keep your phone in your pocket.
Pros: This solves the issue as your iPhone GPS will accurately reflect your position on the golf course and yardages will be correct. This also allows you to mark shots using the interface on your watch and have instant syncing with your iPhone to review marked shots as you play.
Cons: You must keep your phone on you throughout the round.

2) Disable Bluetooth on your phone.
   Pros: Your watch will be forced to use it’s GPS. You are independent of the phone for yardages and can leave your phone in your golf bag or golf cart once the round is initialized.  
Cons: Only applicable to Apple Watch Series 2+ (Series 1 does not have integrated GPS and requires an iPhone for yardages). Any shots marked on your watch will not synchronize with the iPhone until Bluetooth is re-enabled. Some Apple Watch users also experience slower GPS lock times when not paired with the phone as the GPS chip may take time to lock onto GPS satellites from a sleep state.

The short summary at this time is that there is not a simple answer for seamless independence of Apple Watch and iPhone.  This restriction has been raised to Apple and we hope for an eventual resolution, but at this time we are unfortunately stuck with these limitations.

However, despite the limitations, we believe the Apple Watch experience is one that improves the overall functionality of PocketPAR and makes it even easier to track shots on the golf course. We hope to continue to improve the functionality and feature set provided by the watch extension.


Ways to Win: Rickie’s Rout

There is more than one way to win a golf tournament, Ways to Win will break down how the winner did it each week. 

Well if you listened to Johnny Miller this weekend, you would have thought Rickie won ugly, but sometimes its Thursday thru Saturday that wins a golf tournament. In fact, the recent string of victories by Speith, DJ, Hideki, and Justin Thomas have been victory marches on Sundays after blitzing the field early.

Rickie gained 13.5 strokes on the field in the first three days, allowing him to play conservatively down the stretch and still win by 4 strokes on the difficult PGA National.

Continue reading “Ways to Win: Rickie’s Rout”

Feature Focus: Summary and Statistics

Golf is hard. PocketPAR makes it easier.

Time to highlight features you may have missed and show how PocketPAR can help you improve. 

So you’ve finished your round, logged all your shots, and saved the data… Now what? As you’re about to head to the 19th hole and reflect on the day’s adventures, time to arm you with some analysis. PocketPAR‘s round summary will get you what you need from advanced to traditional statistics.

Continue reading “Feature Focus: Summary and Statistics”

Ways to Win: Dominant DJ

There is more than one way to win a golf tournament, Ways to Win will break down how the winner did it each week. 

Always the bridesmaid and never the bride…

After several near misses, Dustin Johnson finally broke through and won at Riviera in dominant fashion. Having to wait out the rain and play 36 holes on Sunday, DJ gave early notice to the field that he wasn’t backing up. Incredible play with just one bogey in his first 62 holes, coasting to a 5 stroke victory the rest of the way.

We all know Dustin can bomb it… but what did he do to dominate the field this week? Continue reading “Ways to Win: Dominant DJ”

Ways to Win: Spectacular Spieth

There is more than one way to win a golf tournament, Ways to Win will break down how the winner did it each week. 

After four consecutive top 10 finishes, Spieth re-emerged in the winners circle. The difference? A hot start in brutal conditions as Spieth put himself in position after round one, rather than digging a hole as he has in recent tournaments.

Once in position, Spieth did what Spieth does and separated himself from the field with the flatstick on Saturday. He gained almost 4.8 strokes on the field with the putter while hanging around the middle of the pack in other strokes gained categories on Saturday.

However, it isn’t just the putter that allowed Jordan Spieth to coast to his 9th PGA Tour victory. Jordan Spieth’s iron game has improved on his performance last year to put him back in contention. Let’s take a look at how Spieth’s performance this week compares to the season’s winners… Continue reading “Ways to Win: Spectacular Spieth”

From the Lab: Scorecard Overhaul + Heatmap

Golf is hard. PocketPAR makes it easier.

We’ve been hard at work in the lab cooking up new features to help our users get the most out of every round. Time to show off how PocketPAR can help you improve. 

To misquote Tin Cup…

How did a legendary ball striker such as yourself manage to make a 10 on the 18th hole?”

“Well I missed a 6-footer for a 9.”

They say there are no pictures on the scorecard… A classic golf-ism, but why not? Often times the final score doesn’t quite tell the story of how the round or hole was played. At PocketPAR, we aim to fix that. Continue reading “From the Lab: Scorecard Overhaul + Heatmap”

Ways to Win: Year of Hideki?

As America starts to tune in for Super Bowl 51, there was a battle still being fought in the Deserts of Arizona. 

The 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open finished in stellar fashion as Webb Simpson and Hideki Matsuyama played four playoff rounds to crown the winner. Hideki sank a 10 footer on the short par-4 17th in front of record crowds.  He has now become 1 of 6 players to defend their title in the event joining golf greats, Ben Hogan, Jimmy Jimmy Demaret, Lloyd Mangrum, Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller.

Continue reading “Ways to Win: Year of Hideki?”

Ways to Win: Eagles Soar for Rahm

There is more than one way to win a golf tournament, Ways to Win will break down how the winner did it each week. 

A bunched leaderboard on Sunday led to a thrilling finish by the young Jon Rahm. There are multiple ways to win on the PGA Tour, but this week Jon Rahm put on a ball striking clinic, particularly with the big stick. Playing a Torrey Pines with brutal rough, Rahm hit 11 of 14 fairways and averaged 305 yards off the tee on Sunday. Maximizing his opportunities, Rahm raced up the leaderboard with a back nine 30 that included two eagles. Continue reading “Ways to Win: Eagles Soar for Rahm”