Tapping into your X factor: Using data insights to transform your game

You may not know me. … Yet.

At the start of my fourth season on the PGA Tour this year, an interesting opportunity arose. It seemed there’s a software company that’s been around since 1991 that – despite more than 22,000 worldwide customers – some people still have never heard of. And they wanted me to represent their brand.

Just as golf analysts – and a few sports nerds – are aware of me, the same goes for this organization. Technology analysts and industry experts have recognized it as a leader in the content services space for a decade.

That’s Hyland.

Leaders team up with leaders. So why not work together to raise awareness about both of us?

Finding the perfect match

As soon as we met, I knew it was a good fit. Not only do our values match – both of our teams like to win and have fun – but we both rely on data to be successful. The only difference is that my team uses data to continually improve, while Hyland provides that capability to its customers.

Data makes the difference. When golfing competitively, my team and I use empirical data sets to run detailed statistical analysis. These data sets pertain to game plans for specific venues, shot-making decisions, etc.

In this sense, I understand and appreciate the sophistication of Hyland’s business. In the career of a professional golfer, it takes many years to mature to top-level performance. But that’s not so in business. As I’ve learned from my new friends at Hyland, companies these days can be ‘born digital’ and quickly establish themselves as industry leaders.

Can the same thing occur in golf? Yes.

And it’s already happening.

Changing the game

The best examples that come to mind are green-reading books that utilize sophisticated topographical laser-scanning devices to show every minute pitch and slope of a putting surface. On the Tour, there’s an ongoing controversy about this level of application because it raises questions in regards to the integrity of the competition.

But as technology continually advances, players are taking advantage of the latest innovations to improve. For example, athletes can now train with labs that use machine learning to analyze and improve every single move – no matter the sport.

One of these labs, P3, is a facility that applies a data-driven approach to understand how elite competitors move. Its goal is to “use advanced sports-science strategies to assess and train athletes in ways that will revolutionize pro sports.”

That’s what my team is after.

We use these capabilities for in-depth statistical analysis. From my drive swing to my putts, technology is an integral part of continuously making me a better player, and my team a better team.

Going through a digital transformation

Throughout my career, my father has been both my swing and mental coach. When we started, we never used data in a practical sense, but rather in a more theoretical approach to track my progress.

Then, as a young player on the PGA Tour, we realized that for the first five years or so, you’re at a distinct disadvantage because, in particular, veteran players have so much more course knowledge. They’ve played some courses hundreds of times.

The only way to level the playing field and successfully compete with these veteran players is to immerse ourselves in comprehensive statistical analysis. It’s all about what Hyland calls a ‘complete view.’ My team needs to see every detail of every course to prepare for success.

For my team, capturing data is a very tedious process. It involves many hours of diligently collecting data from courses, analyzing my rounds of golf, and watching television coverage of past tournaments.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way for your team. With the right partner, you can easily start making sense of all that data pouring into your organization every second of the day.

So, once all the data we had captured pertaining to my game was available, we got together as a team and retrained ourselves. Now we use the data we collect in everything we do, all the way down to the specifics of decision-making, especially as it pertains to club choice during a particular shot.

Connecting with your game

The ability to make decisions based on data makes me more connected to my game. I’m more comfortable and confident in my decision-making process.

The end result of all that analysis begins with more confidence choosing a club and ends with a better swing.

As a younger player, I think all this has helped us establish a competitive advantage. For example, the conversations I have with my caddy, Austin Kaiser, are much more substantial, focused, and data driven during high-pressure situations.

As my friends at Hyland say, it’s not just about capturing information, it’s what you do with it.

Tapping into your X factor

In the end, it’s all about competitive advantage, an X factor. Just like golf, in the world of business, there are many other well-known competitors out there playing at the top of their field.

Our job is to find ways to perform even better. That’s why leaders team with leaders.

Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele

Born and raised in San Diego, California, Xander Schauffele is a professional golfer who joined the PGA TOUR in 2017. He earned the Rookie of the Year award for the... read more about: Xander Schauffele

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