How I'm going to get better at golf in 2019
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How I’m going to get better at golf in 2019

To put it kindly, I'm not the most focused golfer.

I went to the Carlos Franco school of practice, which is to say that I don't like to practice at all. I like to play golf as practice, going to my club to play nine holes to work on my full game in real-live conditions. Those nine-hole rounds set up 18-hole rounds, either for a friendly wager or a club game or whatever. And if those nine-hole rounds produce some particularly troubling things, then I had to the practice range to figure out the problem.

However, with an historic amount of rainfall last golf season -- almost 3 feet of rain in less than three months -- I played sporadically, and I practiced even less frequently than that. I hate playing golf in the rain, and I'm not going to beat balls on the range to dredge up a splash.

So, coming into 2019, my game was kind of a wreck.

Here's what I believe I know about my game:

  • At almost 36, I still have plenty of pop in the bat. In fact, I'm a way better driver of the ball than I've been in my entire life. I can hit it pretty far, and I typically keep the ball in between the trees.
  • My favorite shot is a stinger-style 2-hybrid-iron off the tee that goes about 260 yards.
  • I've never been a great iron player. I can find plenty of greens, but I'm no marksman. I hit mid-irons well, but I really need to feel more confident with 8-iron and 9-iron in my hand.
  • My approach wedge play has become a weakness in recent years. I hit a lot of wedges playing 6,500-yard-and-less courses in rounds that don't really matter, but I don't practice the partial shots nearly enough to feel confident without a few rounds in a row.
  • I'm also not as strong with those shots from 40 yards are in -- the ones that made me plenty of par-5 birdies when I was at my absolute best. Again, more than anything, I think I've lost touch because I don't get to play as much.
  • The sand game is capable. It's not great, and it's definitely not bad. It's serviceable.
  • I can still putt really well. I'm very proud of my mid-range and lag putting. It saves me a lot of butterflies. Inside 6 feet, however, I feel like Jordan Spieth sometimes. I've tinkered to find a more sure-handed grip on closer putts to take my hands out of the stroke.

But all of this comes from half-baked observation while I'm playing golf. I play in plenty of hit-and-giggle events where not every shot counts, or my job is to specifically beat the life out of a driver and kind of let others do the work. In other words, I'm not certain what I know about my game is what's true about my game.

If I'm going to be a better golfer, however, and more importantly, a better competitive golfer, I need to know what works, what doesn't, where to improve, what to lean on and then plan my strategic approach to golf accordingly. That's why this year I'm working with Shot Scope.

Shot Scope is a golf performance-tracking platform that will allow me to get feedback on my game in real-time and after the fact. As you might know, Shot Scope uses sensors screwed in the butt end of your grips to work in tandem with a wrist-worn device that doubles as a golf GPS unit to record when shots are hit, with what club and where they land.

Matching those GPS coordinates with mappings of pretty much every golf course on the planet, Shot Scope will provide me with detailed information on my performance, including how far I hit my clubs, where I gain and lose strokes, my tendencies in hitting particular shots and a lot more. I'm going to be sharing that data with you here at Golf News Net, as well through my social accounts, particularly on Twitter and YouTube, to show you what I'm learning and what I'm doing about it.

Even further, we're going to dig into the data with the Shot Scope team to tell you more about how most golfers play the game and where they can stand to improve. (No, the answer won't just be "everywhere.") Having recorded seven figures of shots, the Shot Scope team can tell you what you really need to know -- but may not be ready to hear -- about your game.

It's going to be a fun journey this year. At one point in my life, pre-kids, my index crept into plus territory. However, I don't feel like I had as much in my arsenal as I do now. If I'm able to marry data, practice and some skill development, I might well be able to make this my best ever year of golf.

Hopefully, Maryland doesn't become the tropics again. In the meantime, check out Shot Scope for yourself and see the kind of tour-level data you can get about your game to become the best golfer you can..

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.

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