Congratulations to Brian Vranesh. Who’s Brian Vranesh? He’s Mr. 81 on the PGA Tour this year!
What’s Mr. 81? He’s the first Player on the PGA Tour this year to score above 80. Now this isn’t to make fun of or ridicule Vranesh – this is just to show that even people who play golf for a living can have a “bad” round. Yet a “bad” score for Mr. Vranesh might actually be a great round for you. As GMS is a big believer in using a Result Based Approach to help Golfers improve – and the results of our Golfers show GMS works – we’re going to use Vranesh’s “bad” 81 to help you score a “great” 81.
Vranesh scored his 81 this past weekend in the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii. And after looking at his stats – I believe an 81 is well within the reach of many Golfers who previously thought of it being out of reach. Here are his stats:
Driving Distance – 261 yards per drive (not as far as it may seem, I’ll explain below)
Driving Accuracy – 36% (which equates to only 5 out of 14 fairways)
Putts – 34 (almost 2 per hole)
Greens in Regulation – 33% (which equates to 6 out of 18)
Putts per Green in Regulation – 2.16 (no wonder he didn’t have any Birdies)
Now those above stats may look ugly for a Tour Player – but if you were able to replicate these – you could score 81 (or close enough to be extremely happy). I believe each one of the above stats can be accomplished by just about anybody – yes, you’ll need to practice your putting and your golf swing – but you can do it.
Even the Driving Distance stat can be achieved because you must remember – you’re not playing on a 7,000 yard course like Mr. 81. What I mean is that the Driving Distance stat must be converted for you since Vranesh played on a golf course measuring 7,060 yards. And if you’re presently not scoring 81 or below, yet you’re playing from that distance on your golf course – you may want to play another set of tees.
As most men play around 6,300 yards and most women play around 5,300 yards – Vranesh’s distance would be the equivalent of a man averaging 233 yards a drive (on a 6,300 yard golf course) and 195 yards (on a 5,300 yard course) for a woman. These should be attainable for most Golfers (especially after attending a 3 day GMS program). Yet, if you’re a man or woman that drives the golf ball 20 yards less – 213 yards or 175 yards – although it’ll be tougher to score 81 – maybe you could make up for the lack of distance by improving your putting.
What about Driving Accuracy – can you hit the same amount of fairways as Vranesh? Well, it really shouldn’t matter since the most overrated stat in golf is hitting the fairway. If you’ve been reading Golf Improvement Weekly for a while, you’ve seen the stats that back this up. For example: in 2008, 6 out of the top 7 PGA Tour Players (Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Anthony Kim) were ranked 150th or lower in Driving Accuracy. The other Top 7 Player was Kenny Perry who was ranked 120th as he hit “only” 62% of his fairways – which is “only” 8 fairways per round. You wouldn’t think the top Players in the world would be missing 6 or more fairways every round they play – but they are – so don’t get so down on yourself when you miss 7 fairways out of 14!
If these guys are scoring in the 60’s by hitting 8 or less fairways per round – you should be able to score 81 by hitting 6 or less like Vranesh. Hitting Fairways isn’t important – keeping the golf ball in play is. And although Vranesh didn’t hit Fairways – he did keep the golf ball in play. Although he did shank it pretty badly on the 7th hole – a Par 3 of 176 yards – which left him an 84 yard wedge from the right rough.
Vranesh (in shooting his 81) averaged almost 2 putts per hole – which is not terrible, but it’s not good either. However this is the area that 7 out of every 8 Golfers wanting to score 81 needs to work on. With most Golfers averaging over 40 putts per round – if you did get down to 34 putts – that’s an instant improvement of at least 6 shots! And with many Golfers experiencing rounds of 44 putts – that’s a 10 shot improvement!
How do you go from plus 40 putts to 34 putts per round? Well, have you used the Indoor Putting Drills that we’ve been offering our readers this winter in GIW? If you have, and are still doing them – 34 putts (and probably less) is in your future. If you haven’t – 34 putts might be a dream. Start putting now and 34 or less putts will come sooner than you think!
Now, I believe the hardest stat for most Golfers to reach will be this next one – Greens in Regulation – Vranesh hit 6 out of the 18 Greens in Regulation. Whereas most Golfers that hope to score 81 hit only 1 or 2 per round. So tripling the number of Greens in Regulation you hit can be a tough task – albeit, not impossible.
The two key factors to hitting more Greens in Regulation are improving your ballstriking and understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses. In the GMS Alumni Bulletin (for GMS Golfers only), we’ve written pretty extensively about this topic. However, I know many reading this Golf Improvement Weekly don’t receive the GMS Alumni Bulletin (and you won’t unless you come to see us for a GMS Program). Yet, one of the things we speak about during a GMS Program is how to hit more greens by understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses. And the ones that continue to PLAN based on their Strengths – see significant improvement in hitting Greens in Regulation. And yes, many GMS Golfers that were hitting 1 or 2 are now hitting 6 or more.
Putts per Green in Regulation – this almost directly relates to your putting skills. Though remember – your putting skills aren’t entirely about having a good putting stroke. Putting skills also have something to do with green reading as well as how your putting stroke reacts when you have a 10 footer for par or 29 footer for Birdie – do you leave that 29 footer 10 feet short because you’re scared of going too far past the hole and losing your chance of making Par? Which leads you to the infamous 10 footer for Par – how do you handle this 10 foot putt with the thoughts of 3 or 4 putts dancing through your head?
Putts per Green in Regulation isn’t entirely about having a smooth putting stroke – it’s more about having Putting skills. How do you develop Putting skills? Not by practicing your putting like the Monkeys do – you need to practice like a Player.
Getting back to 2009’s Mr. 81 (Brian Vranesh) – you can easily duplicate his 81 if you kept to the stats above. And if you can’t keep to the stats above because you hit 20 yards less (equating it to the distances I converted for men and women above) – you’ll be several shots higher. If you can’t improve to 34 putts and end up with 39 putts – you’ll be 5 shots higher. If you hit 2 Greens in Regulation as opposed to 6 – you’ll be a few shots higher.
And once you add up all these additional shots – you’ll understand why you’re not scoring 81.
If you don’t score 81, but want to – you’ll need to develop a PLAN. Your PLAN starts by understanding what it takes to score 81 – and I’ve started that for you by listing Brian Vranesh’s stats. Then you have to compare those stats to your Strengths and Weaknesses which will help you understand where you should spend the most time practicing.
Now, someone that’s scoring above 100 or in the mid-90’s that might not yet have the skills to duplicate the stats listed above – shouldn’t get frustrated. Don’t have the expectations that you’re going to be able to duplicate these stats tomorrow. Though, by knowing your Strengths and Weaknesses, you can develop a PLAN so that you can move towards achieving an 81. You might have to go through 100 or 90 before you set your sights on 81, but you can do it if you have a PLAN. You won’t if you continue to swing and practice like the Monkey.
The Monkey just goes to the driving range to swing
The Player has a PLAN to improve
Go ahead, be a Player!
Marc Solomon – Your Instructor For Life