By Mark Fairbank, Mental Coach at The Golf School of Excellence, a BSI Academy
Jordan Spieth had an incredible 2015, winning 2 major championships, the FedEx Cup and 3 other PGA Tour wins. He was Player of the Year, leading money winner, had the lowest stroke average and reached world numnber 1. Spieth’s tenacity, resilience and hunger are exceptional, but immeasurable. A look at his performance statistics for the 2015 season make for astonishing reading and provides much for the average amateur or aspiring professional to learn.
With an average driving distance of 266m and a fairways hit percentage of 62%, Spieth was ranked 78th and 80th on the PGA Tour respectively in these categories. Our expectations of his performance, or any professional’s performance in this category is largely disproportionate to reality. We may believe they regularly bomb it out to the 300m mark and never miss a fairway but the numbers portray an entirely different picture. While averaging 9 fairways a round is certainly respectable, he is still missing nearly 40%.
With an average of 67% greens in regulation he finds himself ranked 49th , again a respectable statistics but indicates that he is missing 33% or 6 greens per a round and barely breaks into the top 50 on the PGA Tour in this category. Looking at his proximity to the hole still does not meet the high expectations amateurs have, he averages 33ft with all clubs and 19ft using his wedges from 100 to 125 yards, he is ranked 26th and 60th in these categories respectively. It is a common error for us to assume that a professional will hit his wedge shots to 6ft on a regular basis, this is certainly not the case, a combination of intelligent course strategy and human error lead to these higher than expected numbers.
So how did Jordan Spieth managed to surpass 50 million dollars in earnings and dominate the PGA Tour in 2015 when more than 50 of his fellow players are beating him in almost all these categories? The answer is a simple one, short game!
He is missing 6 greens per round but averaging 4 out of 6 saves when missing the green, this 66% average ranks him 4th. His proximity to the hole from the fringe is 1.8ft, an incredible statistics that easily puts him 1st in the world in this category. He is ranked 2nd in proximity to the hole from anywhere around the green with an average of 6ft and is unchallenged on the top of the rankings with a putts per round average of 27.8, he further holds the number one spot with putts made from 10 – 15ft with almost a 3rd of putts made from this range. He is ranked 11th in avoiding 3 putts from outside 25ft, a great indication that while we want to hole putts, it’s vital to avoid 3 putting. He is also head and shoulders above the rest in 1 putts per round, 1 putting on 44% of the greens he hits in regulation.
These astonishing figures highlight the overwhelming power of a great short game and in particular being a great putter, which is a combination of making putts and avoiding 3 putts. A solid short-game allows players to score incredibly well when striking the ball great, it also allows players to save par regularly to keep momentum going when their ball striking is not at its best. There is no better illustration of this than comparing Henrik Stenson’s 2015 season to Spieth’s. Stenson obliterated the field with his ball striking in all categories throughout the year, finding himself ranked 1st with an average of over 70% greens in regulation and 1st in total driving, making him the stand out ball striker in the world, yet was unable to lift a single trophy in the 2015 season and could not touch Jordan Spieth for money earned, world ranking points and trophies won.