Friday, May 05, 2006

KZ Golf and what to buy

I went on a job interview with KZ Golf, a custom pro-line manufacturer. I didn't take the job because me and "sales" are like Superman and kryptonite--just doesn't mix. But they were a really cool bunch who believe every word on their website. You see, the Big 5--Nike, Titleist, Callaway, Cobra and Wilson--rely on advertising to get you to buy their products. Whether or not you shoot better scores is irrelevant, because, they know if you don't play well, you'll blame yourself, not their clubs. Enter KZG. They only sell their clubs to retailers who can custom fit you to the gear. I've never been fitted, so I can't say if fitting really is as important as fitters claim. I did have a Ping fitting, and they recommeded I play upright clubs (green dot), but the one time I played a buddy's green dot set, I hit just as you would expect to if they were too upright--slices all the way (and I NEVER slice.) Still, I'm DYING to go through the fitting process, but it'll have to wait until I, at least, have a job. And if you think you might want to buy KZG stuff off eBay, whether used or new, don't bother--if you can't get the clubs fit to you, there's really no point in buying them (which I learned at the job interview.)

I may have mentioned this before, but aside from a fitting, the only other golf item I really, really want is the Sky Caddie. Trying to guess yardages is a pain-in-the-ass, and I would love to see how much better I play if I had accurate measurments while I played. Sadly, new Sky Caddies are $350, and you have to buy a yearly subscription (anywhere from $20 to $60.) Now this is an item, unlike the KZG clubs, which I will wholeheartedly buy on eBay. They usually go for around $300, but hey, fifty bucks is fifty bucks.

I'm playing tomorrow at De Bell in Burbank. It's a "sporting" executive, which means there are par 5s, but instead of relying on distance to pose the challenge to par, the course uses doglegs. For instance, I think there's a 450 yard par 5, which, under normal circumstances, would a fairly easy hole. But, De Bell has thrown-in a right turn just short of the drive's landing area, so you'd best be accurate. But the radical bit of info I recently learned is this--QUIZ: there is a strong correlation between which of the following: a) driving distance, b)driving accuracy, c) putting, d) sand saves, or e) greens-in-regulation? The answer is "e", G.I.R. More than any other factor, how many greens you hit has the most significant correlation to score. And this holds true for pros as well. To break 90, you have to hit at least 3 G.I.R.s; 80, you have to hit at least 8 G.I.R.s; 70, you have to hit at least 13 G.I.R.s Cool, huh? Here's the article from Golf Digest's website:

By Lucius Riccio, Ph.D.
Golf Digest
May 2006

Of all the statistics in the game, only two really matter when it comes to determining score: greens hit in regulation (example: you hit a par-4 green in two) and putts. Breaking 80 usually goes with reaching certain benchmarks in these areas. To help you get there, Shelby Futch, who heads the Golf Digest Schools, has provided some quick tips (below). My job is to show you the numbers.

Most golfers think putting is the biggest factor in scoring, but greens in regulation (GIRs) are much more important. So important, you almost don't need to look at anything else to predict your score. The most useful score-analysis tool I've developed, called "Riccio's Rule" and first published in Golf Digest in 1987, predicts score based on GIRs: Score = 95 – 2 x GIRs. The chart below, based on this rule, shows how GIRs relate to score:

The above is a chart that didn't load, but here's the info in it (G.I.R.=average score):
1=93, 2=91, 3=89, 4=87, 5=85, 6=83, 7=81, 8=79, 9=77, 10=75, 11=73, 12=71, 13=69.

Here's a quick way to remember the effect of GIRs on your score: "Three greens break 90, eight greens break 80, and 13 greens break 70." That prediction is fairly accurate for any single round, and within one stroke about 90 percent of the time when you take the average of four or more rounds.

So that's our first part: To consistently break 80, you should average eight or more GIRs. Take a few recent scorecards, or record your next few rounds, and average your scores, then average your GIRs. Compare your results to the chart at left. I bet you're right at, or very close to, where the chart says you should be. But if you score better than your GIRs would predict--say, you hit four greens but average 83--you probably have an extraordinary short game. You need to focus on hitting more greens. If you score worse than your GIRs would predict--say, you hit seven greens but average 85--then your putting is weak, or you tend to have blowup holes, which throw off any system for predicting score.

So, it would seem that paying attention to G.I.R.s is more important than avoiding 3-putts. I'll be putting this insight to the test tomorrow and will let you know how it worked out.

Here's a depressing thought: I now know of three people who went from rank beginner to scratch golfer in one year: Greg Norman, Earl Woods, and Mike, the fitter at KZG.


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Don said...

Great article especially the part regarding greens in regulation. The graphic with the how the # of GIR's relate to the score you'd typically shoot. I'm a 3 and I average about 10 to 13 GIR's a round... so I put a lot of creed to those numbers.

Joney Franklein said...

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