What Makes You Golf Happy?

What type of shot do you need to hit to be happy? Or even satisfied? Many golfers, as they strive to improve correctly set their standards high. However, these high standards will eventually corrupt their mental approach as they can only be satisfied with a perfect shot followed by a perfect outcome. They only accept perfection! Not a recipe for cultivating a positive attitude.

Having read about Hunter Mahan's change in attitude over the past few months that culminated in his victory yesterday over world number two Rory McIlroy at the WGC Accenture Match Play, I thought today would be an opportune time to share an approach I recently learned from Dr. Morris Pickens.

During the course of a round, any shot you play can only have one of four outcomes: a good shot with a good result; a good shot with a poor result; a poor shot with a good result; or a poor shot with a poor result. Four possible combinations! How many of these four cause a negative reaction from you?

The above chart illustrates the four possible combinations.  We can all deal with quadrant 1 and we should be upset with quadrant 4, but how do you respond to quadrants 2 and 3?  When playing golf we all prepare and work toward good shots and good results, yet we know that will never always be the case.  In fact, there has never been a round of golf played where every shot and result has been good.  We will always encounter adversity at some point and need to be accepting of certain results that are less than perfect.  A perfectionist only accepts one option - that quickly leads to frustration and one unhappy and disgruntled golfer.

I am not advocating that as golfers we should never get upset - quadrant 4 will take care of that.  I do believe however, that with a better understanding of the big picture, we must learn to accept less than stellar shots that work out (quadrant 3) and good shots that don't (quadrant 2) as part of the game that we play.  When you can do that you are growing and improving, as a golfer.

Amazing PGA Tour Stats from 2011

At the end of each year, with the help of ShotLink, the PGA Tour puts out a stat sheet that gives an in-depth review of various statistical categories. There are always some very interesting numbers - some of which I thought I'd share with you today...


  • The PGA Tour average driving distance for all measured shots was 290.9 yards.
  • The longest driver was JB Holmes at 318.4 yards while the shortest hitter was Brian Gay at 269.8 yards - that's almost 50 yards per tee shot!
  • There were 21 golfers that averaged over 300 yards per tee shot. In 2000 John Daly was the first and only player to average over 300 yards.
  • Rory McIlroy hit 51 out of 56 tee shots over 300 yards in the WGC-Bridgestone event.
  • The longest drive of the year went to Dustin Johnson at 463 yards - it did involve a cart path!
  • Joe Durant was the straightest driver hitting 75.65% of his fairways while Anthony Kim was the least accurate hitting only 46.99% of the fairways.
  • No player led the field in driving accuracy en route to victory, while Bubba Watson led the field in driving distance for both of his victories.
  • Seventy golfers had rounds where they hit every fairway  - a feat Joe Durant achieved four times!
  • John Merrick had a streak of 36 fairways in a row!
  • Darren Clarke only hit 41% of the fairways in winning the Open Championship.

Approach Shots

  • Boo Weekley led the tour in greens in regulations (GIR) with 71.68% - that's just over 12.5 greens per round. Keep in mind the average golfer hits 4 greens per round.
  • Robert Garrigus and Graeme McDowell both hit 92% of the greens at Kapalua - the easiest course on tour to hit greens.
  • 15 players manged to hit all 18 greens in a round and no golfer accomplished this feat more than once.
  • Webb Simpson had a streak of 32 greens in a row!
  • The hardest green to hit on tour was the 6th Hole at PGA National (29.98%). The hole is actually a par five for the members and is truly frightening.
  • The course with the most hole outs from off the green was Harbourtown GL at 101. Primarily because the greens are literally miniscule and very easy to miss.

Around the Green

  • Brian Gay led the sand saves category with a 63.40 % up and down rate.
  • Greg Chalmers led the scrambling category with a 65.17% up and in rate.

Note: I do have a problem with the PGA Tour scrambling stat in that they measure scrambling for any shot to the green that is one stroke higher than regulation. This means that tee balls hit OB should be up and downed from the tee to convert and that pitches and chips played to a par five in three are not counted...not too much sense in that.  (Thanks to Pete Sanders from ShotbyShot.com for pointing this out to me)

  • Five players led the field in scrambling in the same week that they won.
  • Jason Dufner was 23 out of 24 for scrambling in the Waste Management event.
  • Brian Gay and Paul Stankowski each had 17 consecutive sand saves!


  • Luke Donald led the tour in the best stat on tour in my opinion - Strokes Gained-Putting with +.844. That means he gained an average of .844 strokes on the most "average" putter for every round he played and has led the tour in this category the last three years.  Boo Weekley, for all his hitting prowess, was last on -1.102 and Luke gained almost two strokes per round on Boo - just with the putter!
  • Luke Donald had 1 three putt for every 80 holes of golf he played.
  • On average Tour winners out performed the field by +1.426 strokes per round with the putter. That's only +5.7 better than the field average in a four round event...
  • 6 out of 38 winners in 2011 led the field in strokes gained-putting and 25 of 38 winners ranked in the top ten.
  • Charlie Wi gained +12.68 strokes on the field in the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
  • Hunter Mahan only managed to make 219 feet of putts in the 4th round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
  • Three players managed to have 15 one putts in a round!
  • Luke Donald had 483 consecutive holes without a three putt and Kevin Na made 676 out of 676 from inside three feet!


  • Luke Donald led the adjusted (?) scoring average at 68.86 while Webb Simpson led the actual scoring averages at  69.16.
  • Webb Simpson had 60 rounds of scoring in the 60's and 13 out of 98 rounds that were bogey-free.
  • Four players had 11 birdies in a round and three players made 27 birdies in a four round event.
  • 4% of all rounds on tour were completely bogey-free.
  • Luke Donald had 17 consecutive sub-par rounds (I have those all the time!) and Briny Baird had 12 consecutive rounds in the 60's.

The PGA Tour currently keeps a total of 416 various stats on each player for every round they play and with the help of some very smart people each stat category is getting deeper and better as they move forward.  Ever read the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis? Well golf is finally starting to apply sabermetrics to the massive amount of data they collect every year - and they're better off for it.

You cannot improve upon something if you cannot measure it! I believe that statement to be true and I know that quality stats are vital in helping any serious golfer improve.  That is why I have aligned with noted statistician Peter Sanders and his fantastic site ShotbyShot.com. With this site you have the ability to truly assess your strengths and weaknesses. You even have the ability to judge your putting against scratch handicap golfers in a strokes gained type format - the only other way to get something similar is to become a Tour player!

To all my students: If you are serious, and I believe you all are, please contact me about a fantastic opportunity for us to participate at ShotbyShot.com. After all, if you want to improve something we have got to measure it....

Sean Foley Golfer Stats

Here are some interesting stats gathered from PGATour.com regarding Sean Foley's top students. The moral of the story appears to be - it's not easy to make great golfers better! It'll be interesting to see how Tiger's statistics change over the next few years.

(Please note, this information has been compiled by a golf professional other than myself)

PARKER MCLACHLIN                            
In 2008 McLachlin won on tour and did not work with Foley, 2009-2010 with Foley              
      2008 Tour Rank   2009 Tour Rank   2010 Tour Rank          
Driving Distance   286yds 105th   279yds 157th   269yds 191st          
Driving Accuracy   58% 157th   54% 173rd   54% 180th          
Greens in Regulation   62.50% 159th   58% 182nd   53% 194th          
Total Driving   176th 176th   184th 184th   193rd 193rd          
Ball Striking   178th 178th   183rd 183rd   193rd 193rd          
Proximity to Hole   36ft  154th   39ft 182nd   41ft 194th          
HUNTER MAHAN                             
Mahan did not work with Foley in 2008 during the PGA Tour season; started in the 2009 season      
      2008 Tour Rank   2009 Tour Rank   2010 Tour Rank        
Driving Distance   290yds 75th   297yds 28th   291yds 56th          
Driving Accuracy   66% 62nd   65% 74th   68% 34th          
Greens in Regulation   69% 7th   68% 19th   68% 33rd          
Total Driving    23rd 23rd   7th 7th   2nd 2nd          
Ball Striking   8th 8th   4th 4th   11th 11th          
Proximity to Hole   34ft  48th   34ft 55th   36ft 142nd          
SEAN O'HAIR                             
Sean began working with Foley at the Canadian Open in 2008.                  
      2007 Tour Rank   2008 Tour Rank   2009 Tour Rank   2010 Tour Rank    
Driving Distance   296yds 34th   291yds 69th   293yds 46th   288yds 84th    
Driving Accuracy   64% 79th   60% 138th   61% 123rd   64% 74th    
Greens in Regulation   67% 23rd   64.40% 113th   67% 27th   67% 59th    
Total Driving   8th 8th   112th 112th   66th 66th   51st 51st    
Ball Striking   9th 9th   111th 111th   42nd 42nd   48th 48th    
Proximity to Hole   35ft 68th   34ft 48th   34ft 55th   35ft 109th    
JUSTIN ROSE                             
Justin began working with Foley mid 2009                        
He currently ranks 6th in total putting 2010; 2009 ranked 143rd and 2008 ranked 186th. He works with Dave Stockton on putting,  
      2007 Tour Rank   2008 Tour Rank   2009 Tour Rank   2010 Tour Rank    
Driving Distance   288yds 96th   286yds 103rd   288yds 90th   286yds 104th    
Driving Accuracy   63.90% 95th   64% 90th   64.8 79th   66% 57th    
Greens in Regulation   65.70% 58th   61% 170th   66% 83rd   66% 88th    
Total Driving   89th 89th   197th 197th   66th 66th   58th 58th    
Ball Striking    63rd 63rd   197th 197th   71st 71st   70th 70th    
Proximity to Hole   34ft 33rd   34ft 60th   35ft 92nd   33ft 26th    
STEPHEN AMES                             
Began with Foley in November 2006                        
      2003 Tour Rank   2006 Tour Rank   2007 Tour Rank   2008 Tour Rank    
Driving Distance   285yds 99th   289yds 88th   282yds 154th   283yds 133rd    
Driving Accuracy   66% 109th   62% 101st   67% 47th   62.70% 103rd    
Greens in Regulation   68% 34th   66% 58th   64% 86th   65% 96th    
Total Driving   125th 125th   87th 87th   107th 107th   160th 160th    
Ball Striking   82nd 82nd   68th 68th   94th 94th   134th 134th    
Proximity to Hole   33ft 21st   34ft 44th   34ft 49th   32ft 6th    
      2009 Tour Rank   2010 Tour Rank                
      287yds 94th   282yds 138th                
      65% 73rd   66% 57th                
      67% 30th   67% 66th                
      62nd 62nd   107th 107th                
      40th 40th   84th 84th                
      35ft 77th   35ft 100th                

To read more on Sean Foley and Tiger Woods click HERE