The elite golfer reaches the top because they view the game as both a science and an art. It looks like an art when they play, but what goes on behind the scenes is much more calculated.

In modern golf, tour players do everything from golf-specific fitness workouts to high performance nutrition in order to squeeze everything they can out of every round. They know exactly how to spend their available time to maximise improvement, every day. But how do they know what to do?

Two words: performance tracking.

Through collecting stats on their games, tour players can measure all areas of their performance and build a plan for success. Stats allows them to see exactly where their game is strong and precisely what needs to be focused on during practice.

“At the end of the season, I take a look at my stats and see where my strengths and weaknesses lie,” says former world No.1 Rory McIlroy.

Dual US PGA Tour winner Bryson DeChambeau tracks his swing on a FlightScope launch monitor and uses the Quintic Ball Roll system, a launch monitor for putting – yes, putting – that produces detailed data on impact and roll dynamics on the greens.

But what was once a luxury for those on tour with access to the tour’s exclusive performance tracking data is now readily available to any golfer, anywhere, via a host of devices and downloadable shot-tracking apps.

Naturally, it has revolutionised the way everyday instructors teach their students. Having performance tracking stats in every facet of the game, from driving, pitching to putting, has been a game-changer.

When I start working with a new student, I ask them what their goal is in the game of golf. Next I’ll ask what they would like to achieve this season. Then we build a plan to get there…

Where Is Your Game (Now)?

To put this plan together, we need some accurate data. I’m talking about stats you should keep about your game from every round you play.

When I ask a new student, “Do you keep stats on your game?” The typical response is, “Yes, I keep fairways hit, greens hit and putts per round.” But when I ask how that information is used, and whether I can see average stats from the past 5-10 rounds, I rarely hear a “yes”. In any business or sport, making use of numbers is critical. You’ve probably heard the term “Big Data” where companies attempt to gather huge amounts of information about their customers and target market, which allows them to make better decisions, lower costs and increase efficiency.

In the same way, individuals are now able to access more and more data about how they spend their time and their money, which can help them achieve success.

Think about the Fitbit revolution – something as simple as being able to track the number of steps walked every day has inspired millions of people to get fitter.

Being able to measure anything can help motivate you to set goals and see how effective your strategies to improve are. It makes improvement fun! This is why tools such as Shot Scope, Game Golf and Arccos are becoming an increasingly popular way to track your golf game, and why tour players are endorsing them to help players improve and get more enjoyment from the game.

What Keeping Stats In Golf Allows You To Do

Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, build confidence, get unbiased feedback, set goals and measure progress, make efficient use of practice time, set realistic expectations… the list goes on.

The problem in our time-crunched world is that we barely have time for practice, let alone spending time gathering and analysing our stats. It’s a lot easier for a tour player who has all their stats collected for them during their rounds. But the weekend warrior doesn’t want to spend half the time they’re on the course measuring and writing down stats; they naturally want to focus on playing.

However, collecting stats about your game can now be automated, thanks to these great game-tracking devices. Some use GPS tracking tags that are easily attached to the grip of each club, meaning you can simply play your game while all your stats are being recorded for you in the background. No more marking down your stats on your scorecard! Just play and then log in to your dashboard at home or on your mobile device, and view all your shot data. You can track every stat you need, find your average distance and shot dispersion with each club and compare your stats with different handicap levels. Every round is tracked without any effort on your part. All this comes in very handy for goal-setting and practice plans, which can really accelerate your improvement.

Even 63-year-old Australian legend Greg Norman can see the value in performance tracking. The two-time British Open champion recently announced a material investment in Shot Tracer – the fastest growing sports app in 20 countries around the world that features ball tracking for performance improvement and fun animations for social media sharing.

“Enhancing the golfer experience and finding ways to change the way golf is viewed and played is of paramount importance to me and Shot Tracer checks all the boxes,” Norman said. “This app allows the everyday golfer to have a launch monitor in his pocket and the filters and animations make it fun to share. I am thrilled to add Shot Tracer to my portfolio as we take another step in expanding our connected sports media and content network.”

So if you’re not looking at your performance tracking stats, what are you waiting for? Better golf is the ultimate reward.

David MacKenzie is the founder of Golf State of Mind, a teaching program designed to help golfers eliminate negative mental interference and play with confidence. See for more details.

Start Tracking Your Stats Now: Three gadgets that collect all the data you need to play better

Cobra ConnectCobra Connect

Experience seamless Cobra Connect embedded sensor technology and automatic shot tracking powered by Arccos. The complete line of King F8 clubs pair with the Arccos 360 app for full-bag shot tracking and the King F8 drivers pair with the Arccos Driver app for driver shot tracking. Download the appropriate app from the Apple App Store or Google Play and get connected.

Game Golf ProPerformance Tracking

Game Golf Pro, the next generation of Game Golf’s round-tracking club sensor-based game analysis tool, is better thanks to a sleeker, more sophisticated grip sensor to track club use and distance stats. The more sensitive sensors, typically found in autonomous car technologies developed for Tesla, are sophisticated enough to determine the difference between a practice swing and a real swing for cleaner data collection.

But the biggest change is the system no longer requires players to tag the belt sensor with the club before hitting a shot. The Game Golf Pro system has the option to be used without a phone.

Game Golf Pro also will feature an artificial intelligence component called Smart Caddie, an idea first seen by Game Golf rival Arccos with its Arccos Caddie. Smart Caddie uses a players’ current data to make club and strategy recommendations on how to play a hole during the round. (coming soon)

Performance TrackingShot Scope

Data is power. Be in control of your game with Shot Scope V2. Developed by a team of elite golfers, V2 automatically collects more than 100 tour-level statistics, each hand-picked to facilitate game improvement.

Meaningful stats, broken down into bite-size data segments for easy analysis makes understanding your game easier than ever. With Shot Scope, data is laid out in interactive graphs and charts so that you can drill down into every aspect of your game.

View the distance and usage of each club, filter by season and compare different clubs of the same type to determine which works best for you. Make informed decisions on the course with data-driven decision making on any shot from any distance.

Shot Scope will be available in Australia soon.