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What can a golfer learn from a baseball legend?

I read an article recently in one of my favourite blogs Farnam Street about a baseball legend Ted Williams. He was the last person to get a .400 batting average, not that I have a clue what that means although I understand it’s quite the accomplishment. What did interest me was the way he went about it. I believe we as golfers can learn a huge amount from his method of decision making.

Ted Williams

Ted Williams knew that one of the most important aspects of being a great hitter was getting a good ball to hit. He developed a system (the one pictured below) called the strikezone. The strikezone helped Williams remain patient and wait for a ball to arrive in a zone that increased his chances of getting a clean hit (the red cells and those close to that). Those balls thrown in the strikezone were within William’s circle of competence.

Ted Williams strikezone

How does this relate to golfers? Well we all have our own individual circle of competence. Knowing the outer boundaries of that circle can have big benefits to our on course decision making. It does require some effort and collecting some data but the payoff is potentially huge.

I use a system called with the players I coach and based off the data we collect not only do we know what areas to focus on in training but players can use the data to help with all of the following on course decisions:

  • Ideal lay up zones
  • Tee lines and club selection
  • Green, orange and red pins (I’ll write more about this in a future post)
  • When risk will outweigh reward and vice versa
  • What type of putts increases the odds of holing out

Below is a sample data set collected over 60+ rounds from a 7 handicapper I coach, you can see his dispersion rates (how far on average he finished from the target at each given distance) from 100-250 yards. This data allows him to determine his strikezone (circle of competence).

So based on green size and pin location he can select a target that maximises his chances of hitting the green and therefore taking the lowest score possible. It also allows him like our friend Ted Williams remain patient until a pin that is within his strikezone/circle of competence is on for him to attack.

So if you want to improve your golf batting average and improve your on course decision making figure out your strikezone and use it guide your on and off course choices. Below are some useful links if you would like to learn more about strategy and decision making. If you feel you could benefit from improving your strategy and decision making through performance analysis. Get in touch I’d be happy to help.

Every shot counts – Mark Broadie

Putting Blackjack – Mark Sweeney

Speed Changes Everything – Mark Sweeney

All the best,