By: Chris Billingsley
Even though he played on the PGA tour, Scott Fawcett may not be a name you recognize. Mainly because his career was short lived. A shoulder injury kept him from competing at the elite level. Though he did win twice on the NGA Hooters tour, played in the 1999 U.S Open and won a handful of mini-tour events.
In 2001, the aforementioned shoulder injury forced Scott from the game and he entered the work world - though, to be fair - he ended up creating a billion dollar electrical empire in Texas, which allowed him turn his attention back to golf.
By 2014, Scott felt the urge to compete, and, having reclaimed his amateur status, entered the realm of competitive amateur golf. But this time, his mindset was different. With his background in math, economics, and poker, he developed a system for making decisions on the golf course. He combined TrackMan data with PGA Tour scoring statistics to create a system that allowed him to easily choose his targets during a round and thus, the DECADE Course Management System was born. Centered on the premise that effective course management can be taught and is less about emotion, and more about playing the percentages.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Curt Sampson of D magazine entitled, Moneygolf
"Simplifying quite a bit, Fawcett’s big idea is that the club in your hands is closer to a shovel than a scalpel—or, as he says, “You’re shooting a shotgun, not a sniper rifle.” Most golfers observe the pole in the hole and reflexively aim at it. Wrong, wrong, wrong, says Fawcett. Plotting the standard deviations of his own shots and the numbers from the Tour proved to him that the world’s best golfers are far less accurate than civilians might think. Add undetectable variables like wind currents on the ball’s journey and adrenaline in the operator (or its lack), and it’s clear that perfect shots are little more than happy accidents. Therefore expectations must be lowered if performance is to be raised. The smart golfer plans for degrees of failure rather than for perfection."
Although Fawcett wanted to test his hypotheses at the 2014 Texas Amateur at Brook Hollow, tendinitis in his right elbow would not allow him to play. But there was this skinny high school kid at his club. Will Zalatoris had a beautiful game and obvious dedication but no great accomplishment, as evidenced by his ranking as the 3,300th-best junior golfer in the world. Fawcett sent him a text: “I’ll caddy for you. And if you do everything I tell you, I promise you will win.” Zalatoris won that Texas Am. Two months and two more big wins later, Zalatoris was ranked the eighth-best junior in the world. Now touring professionals, club pros, college coaches, Tiger Woods’ instructor, the PGA Tour, and Zalatoris—now at Wake Forest on a golf scholarship, possibly the next Jordan Spieth—all have Fawcett on their speed dial."
"Fawcett says 90-plus shooters would be better served working on mechanics and worrying about strategy later, but better players could benefit by building some data points of their own. With a 9-iron, for example, the array of one’s shots around a target may be amoeba-shaped, or it might describe the jagged outline of your gerrymandered congressional district; in area, the pattern may be as small as a painter’s tarp or as large as the first floor of your house."
“Scott hasn’t invented anything, but he’s simplified it and quantified it, so he’s got a lot of credibility,” says Bratton of OSU. “Our kids think they’re going to stuff a full 5-iron, but now they find that even Tiger Woods doesn’t aim at the pin every time. I had a misconception, too. I used to think the big difference between the Tour player and the rest of us is putting. It’s not. It’s better strategy.”
Despite all the radar, lasers, data, and drones, a major component of Fawcett’s program is as old school as it can be. The name of his website gives it away: playinglesson.com. In other words, he doesn’t think anyone should waste his youth on the practice tee. He wants to take serious players out on the course and show them how to get around with the least pain and the lowest score. That’s the way a lot of us learned the game, from our dads, usually. Mine would say, “See that lake on the right? Aim left.”
Fawcett’s insights are more nuanced, of course, but the principle is the same. He feels fortune favors those who know the odds.
(Read the full article here, http://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/2015/july/moneygolf-scott-fawcett)
THE DECADE SYSTEM
On Scott's website, (www.playinglesson.com) you'll find a link to the video below. It's 30 minutes in length, so make sure you have time, though you can get the basic idea after the first ten minutes or so.)
Essentially his system can be very briefly summed up with his basic Rules of Thumb. (It is important to not that this is just for tee shots. Approaches, short game shots and putting all have their own set of "rules".)
RULES OF THUMB FOR TEE SHOTS
1. Length is the most important factor for tee shots. Think Driver first and adjust down.
2. 65 yards between penalty hazards to challenge those hazards. Water and OB, OB on both sides, water on both sides.
3. When there is trouble on both sides of fairway (lake-sand-tress-OB) either carrying or being short of one hazard is likely ideal - 40 yards between hazards to challenge them. Lesser of two evils.
4. Stick to YOUR shot shape on almost ALL tee shots. Use strategy for doglegs, not shape.
5. There is little to be gained by forcing it closer once you will have a wedge in your hand. Being closer is better, but do not take excess risk to gain that yardage.
6. Do not think "I can't miss it there". Have a sound strategy and then simply let the percentages play out. You should miss it everywhere occasionally.
Can the DECADE system help you?
There is no doubt in my mind, that Scott knows what he is doing. Incredibly brilliant, his system has proven to work for better players. He is quick to say that if you are high handicapper, this system can work for you too, though your time is probably better spent getting lessons and developing your skills. The 65 yard rule may not apply to weekend warriors who tend to have a wider dispersion pattern.
The other factor to consider with this system is time. You have to devote a significant amount of time to charting and plotting course using google earth. Some people, (like myself) love this kind of thing, while others would rather be doing anything but drawing lines on a google earth image. The good news is that if you have a home course that you play 90% of your rounds on, you need only do it once. If you play tournament golf at a variety of courses, the time obviously increases.
Currently, you can only sign up for an email list at playinglesson.com. There is nothing to buy - yet. Scott offers an all day intensive seminar which he covers everything you need to know about the Decade System. Contact Scott for information.
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To playing better golf,