Need Help With Your Golf Game? Consider The Lessons of Six Sigma

Need Help With Your Golf Game? Consider The Lessons of Six Sigma

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Need Help With Your Golf Game? Consider The Lessons of Six Sigma

For those who play the game, golf can be both the source of great joy and terrible frustration.

This article looks at dealing with that second part.

No matter how much all of us shrug it off with the gang back at the clubhouse, not playing well – especially making the same mistakes over and over – gets to us. Maybe it’s not consistently driving the ball well. Maybe your putting game has never been what it should.

Whatever it is, it’s probably driving you a little crazy.

As veteran professional golfer Raymond Floyd said, “They call it golf because all the other four letter words were taken.”

But help for your game might come from an unusual place: Six Sigma. That’s right, a system with its roots in 19th century math and originally designed to improve manufacturing processes can actually help with your golf game.

OK, but how?

Analyzing Your Game

Essentially, Six Sigma provides concepts that you can adapt to analyze your game and isolate the weak spots. Don’t feel bad. We all have them.

Much as executives and managers in baseball have discovered that analytics takes out emotional factors in decisions, Six Sigma can do the same in helping you analyze your game. By paying attention and recording some simple statistics and outcomes as you play, you can start zoning in on why you are not playing as well as you know you can.

While applying a methodical process can prove complicated when dealing with team dynamics, it’s a bit more straightforward when you are just dealing with you.

Three Principles To Keep In Mind

Six Sigma contains many different ideas, but here are three aspects to keep in mind.

Variation – This exists in every process, including playing golf, and it is the enemy of consistent performance. Six Sigma requires you to analyze each step of the process for what works and what doesn’t, then eliminate (or at least minimize) the variations that impede success.

Focus on Input – The old saying “garbage in, garbage out” became an old saying because it’s true. To change the end result (your golf score) you have to focus on the details of the inputs that lead to that result (short game, driving, putting, club selection). Making improvements in these individual areas helps drive better overall results.

The Critical Few – When it comes to inputs, typically a handful make the biggest differences. When working on improving your golf game, focus on the few critical areas that most impact performance and improve them.

Putting It Into Practice

Practice makes perfect – another worthy old saying. However, practice doesn’t mean simply picking up a bucket of balls and hacking away dozens of times, hoping for a different result. That won’t happen.

With practice, you should focus on what works best and what does not. But don’t try to do everything all at once. Instead, focus on one aspect of your game.

Using the three areas mentioned above, here are some specifics to keep in mind. Let’s focus just on putting, but you can do this with any phase of the game.


Six Sigma’s data-driven methodology teaches companies how to analyze a process and reduce the number of defects per action to the minimum possible. The first step is to analyze the current process to see where there are wasted steps, duplication or missed important steps.

In the case of golf, you want to record what went right and what went wrong. A golf scorecard actually provides an easy way to do this.


On the scorecard, record the distance and whether your shot was long, short or to the left or right of the hole. Record this information during your next round of golf and patterns will emerge from the statistics, clearly showing the areas where you need the most work.

Why is this important? Because just a slight edge can save you an extra shot on the green. For example, becoming good at making lag putts can set you up for easy, final short putts.


Here is where practice comes into play. If you have difficulty with lag putts, then work on that. You can’t control all the variables – wind, humidity, your own adrenalin rate – but you can work to eliminate variations in your swing and the putter face angle.

The idea, just like with businesses that use Six Sigma, is to eliminate the errors and variations. Once you’ve found a method that works, practice it until it becomes second nature.

The Critical Few

In putting, simple works best. While many variables exist in a putt, most golfers agree there are three main variables that should be controlled. This is where you want your main focus.

  • Dead hands. Don’t bend the wrists.
  • Pendulum swing. Swing from the shoulders, not the arms.
  • Ball forward. In your stance, position the ball forward to limit bouncing and produce a straight roll.

Putting is just one area where a Six Sigma approach can help your game. The same can be applied for improving driving off the tee and refining your short game.

Finally, keep this in mind: you play golf to enjoy yourself. Unlike in business, using Six Sigma in sport is not about achieving perfection, which is impossible, although Jack Nicklaus in 1972 and Tiger Woods in 2000 came pretty close.

The goal is to address key problem areas to improve performance, not become perfect. However, it’s good to keep in mind these words of wisdom from professional golfer Fred Couples:

“Golf is supposed to be fun, but I don’t think anything is fun if you’re not doing it reasonably well.”

The post Need Help With Your Golf Game? Consider The Lessons of Six Sigma appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: James LoPresti
Posted: August 10, 2017, 12:34 pm

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