Advanced statistical analysis has been taking over the sports world for years now. Golf always seems to be a little bit behind the times, but has caught up very quickly as of late. Mark Broadie arguably took the first major step for golf when he invented his strokes-gained statistic, and wrote Every Shot Counts. While it was a fascinating read, it left golfers wondering what to do with all of the information he had figured out. Well someone did. His name is Scott Fawcett, and his course-management system DECADE has been sweeping through the competitive golf world over the last few years.
I got a chance to go through DECADE, and I spoke with Scott several times on the phone to find out more. While I don't want to give away too much, this article will give you my thoughts on the potential benefits for golfers.
Simply put, DECADE is not just a course strategy system. It is a masterclass on golf expectation management and psychology.
Update: Scott has released a version of his app geared towards recreational golfers called DECADE Foundations. You can learn more about it in this article, or get a discount of $25 by using this link.
Exploding on the Scene
Scott Fawcett has a very unique story. He holds three math degrees, used to play professional golf, and also dabbled in playing poker for a living. They are all part of the fabric of DECADE's story.
He initially came up with the idea for a course-strategy system to use for his own playing career back in 2014. He poured over the data collected by Mark Broadie, Shotlink statistics from the PGA Tour, and his own swing tendencies captured on Trackman. His intention was to optimize every single target he chose during tournaments. He wanted to approach competitive golf with the same numbers-based strategy that many professional poker players use. Due to injuries, he was unable to continue his playing career at that time, so he decided to try it out with a local amateur golfer in Dallas.
This young man was not prominent in the amateur world when Scott started working with him. He was ranked just outside of 3,000th in the world, and did not have any major wins to his credit. In the first tournament Scott caddied for him using his system, he won the Texas Amateur. He then proceeded to win the Trans-Miss Championship and the U.S. Junior National title. Within three months he was #3 in the world.
College programs got a whiff of what was going on, and he started giving seminars to teams. Bryson DeChambeau was one of his first attendees. He quickly became the #1 ranked amateur in the world by winning the U.S. Amateur and NCAA individual title. Bryson has publicly credited Scott's system as being part of the recipe to his success.
Shortly afterwards, the NCAA banned Scott from giving seminars to teams, calling it "an unfair competitive advantage." Slightly comical, but probably the best endorsement he could have ever received.
Scott is currently in high demand by many PGA Tour players and almost every top 25 collegiate program is using his app (which is legal).
What is DECADE?
In its simplest form, DECADE is a course-management system. It gives you optimal targets based on your distances, trouble surrounding the hole, and a few other factors. I don't believe it is terribly difficult to learn, and taking it out on the course is not complicated either. It is almost like Aimpoint, but for everything outside of putting.
After studying it for a while, and using it during my rounds, I believe DECADE is much more than just a strategic system.
Strategy in golf is deeply linked to psychology. Your mental state before each shot can have a huge influence on the quality of your decisions. Many golfers struggle with this part of the game because of the tumultuous nature of every round of golf. As such, the majority of players end up making bad decisions because they can't control their emotions.
This is exactly why I believe golfers who have adopted DECADE are starting to outperform their competition. They have completely bought into a system that makes smart decisions for them. I believe the main benefit is having a psychological advantage on the golf course.
Who Is It For?
One of the main questions I had before going through DECADE was understanding what kind of player it is specifically designed to help. After reviewing all of the material I believe it is best suited for the elite amateur player or professional golfers. This is exactly why college programs and pro golfers have recently been beating down Scott Fawcett's door. They all want an edge over each other.
Since this website is geared more towards recreational golfers, I would only recommend this system to players who are in the very low single-digit handicap range, and are trying to compete in tournaments. That rings true for myself, which is why I wanted to learn more.
Scott is launching DECADE Lite, which will be geared towards amateurs with higher handicaps. It is going to be available shortly.
If you go through the DECADE seminar, or watch the material inside the app, you will have a complete understanding of why you will pick certain spots with your shot selection.
Additionally, your expectations are properly managed. Scott Fawcett has done a tremendous job at communicating just how hard golf truly is. He uses PGA Tour statistics to give perspective to each situation. It truly frames how you can gain strokes on your competition by making smarter decisions. Personally I haven't seen many people talk about golf the way he does, and I believe his communication skills are the true cornerstone of what makes DECADE so effective and unique.
One of Scott's most important statements is that golfers are not out there with a sniper rifle, but rather a shotgun. It is their job to manage the dispersion of that shotgun as best as they can.
Something interesting happens when you show up to the golf course, and you know that your decisions are already made. You start to play with freedom because you understand that you have done your best to choose the optimal targets. More importantly, it makes it easier to live with the results. That is where the expectation management comes in.
If I were to draw a comparison to team sports, it is similar to the way some of the great professional sports organizations operate. Teams like the San Antonio Spurs and New England Patriots have enjoyed longstanding success because every player in those organizations has to buy into their philosophy. They often talk about "the system" as a faceless entity that no player is above. Certain players excel in these situations once they completely buy in because it removes doubt, fear, and more importantly teaches them how to play smarter.
Essentially what Scott Fawcett has done is upload his brain and coaching philosophy into this course. It is not a complete surprise to me that the golfers who have completely bought in are starting to thrive. It's simply good coaching, which I believe is in short supply in the golf world.
Seemingly Too Simple
Scott Fawcett would be the first person to admit that nothing he says in his course is ground breaking. It is actually remarkably simple. Golfers have known for years that good strategy means taking into account your abilities as a golfer, and choosing smart targets based on the architecture of the golf course. Personally I have written about it in great detail myself on this site.
That's really not the point though. What separates any great piece of information is how it is presented to the end user.
Take books for example. I have read a number of great non-fiction titles over the years that are deeply fascinating. They take complex topics and simplify them by researching multiple sources and using superior communication skills to tell a story. Malcom Gladwell is a perfect example of this. Anyone with the proper motivation can get access to the multiple studies, books, and academic materials that he researches. However, he has taken the time to study them all and provide great analysis in the form of a book. That's why people are more than happy to pay for it. He did the work for us.
That is what Scott Fawcett has done with DECADE. He has poured through millions of shots on the PGA Tour. He has taken his math degrees, knowledge of poker, and experience as a professional golfer and created a system that has great value. The end result is advice that is fairly simple to digest. But make no mistake, it was not so easy to collect all of it and put it together.
It is Easier Said Than Done
You are probably excited at this point about DECADE. You should be because it's great information that I believe high-level golfers will benefit from.
There's always a catch though...
While the information is easy to understand, it is much harder to put it into practice. If you are playing in tournaments you'll have to do a bit of homework on the course beforehand, using Google Maps. Additionally, you are going to have to take time to enter your stats after every round which means keeping detailed accounts on the course.
That's actually not the hard part in my opinion. The true test is actually sticking with the system during the heat of the battle. Many of you reading this know what it's like going through the trials and tribulations of a tournament round. You can have a great plan in place, but what happens when you make a double bogey early in your round? You'll start feeling the pressure to abandon everything and play more aggressively.
Additionally, you might not see results immediately because improving your strategy is not going to magically fix your golf game. It is more about eliminating mistakes over time that could be costing you anywhere from 1-4 shots per round.
Scott mentioned that many of the players who initially went through the seminar became a little lax with their discipline, and had to re-dedicate themselves after several months. It is not a surprise that the players he works with directly, or has caddied for, have tremendous results because he is there to remind them to stick with the plan. When you've learned something and you go out on your own, it is much harder to stay motivated and disciplined. That's where great coaching comes in.
So if people are wondering, "well, why wouldn't every golfer just learn this, and automatically get better?" - I believe that's the answer to your question.
Using the App
I have not had the chance to attend a DECADE seminar in person. Scott has made all of that information available through his app, which you can download to your phone. It features a collection of videos and tutorials that introduce you to the system, train you how to use it, and educate you on various strategic disciplines.
The videos are absolutely fantastic, and are some of the best I've seen. Outside of teaching you how to use DECADE to pick your targets, there is great wisdom packed into each video. Scott has a unique way of talking about tee shots, putting, getting out of trouble, and plenty of other scenarios.
For example, his video on what your strategy should be in recovery situations will have you looking at a seemingly bad circumstance through a completely different viewpoint. Instead of making it a negative situation, he shows how you can actually gain strokes on the field by taking an alternative strategy.
The second part of the app is data entry. Each player has the ability to enter detailed statistics on their rounds. Then it starts making recommendations on where you can improve based on algorithms Scott Fawcett has created. It will take some time getting used to it. However, I found the process to be fairly easy once you get the hang of it. You can expect to take about 10 minutes entering your data. From what I understand it has been received as a bit more intuitive than other applications that college and professional players are currently using.
I have only had the opportunity to use this part of the app sparingly, and I will update this article when I have more specific recommendations on my game later in the year. Scott mentioned that in order to reap the full rewards of the app you should take the time to enter your stats. Additional content will appear that it tailored to your game.
Wrapping it up - You'll Be Hearing Much More About Scott Fawcett
If you are a competitive golfer I strongly advise you to consider taking a look at DECADE. At the minimum you will learn strategic information that can change your perspective on the game. If you completely buy into everything Scott Fawcett is preaching, then I believe you are giving yourself a much better chance at success. Make no mistake, it will require a lot of work and discipline on your part.
If you haven't heard of Scott Fawcett yet, I think you are going to start hearing his name more in the coming years. The cat is somewhat out of the bag at this point. Advanced data has become a part of competitive golf. If you are not playing this style of golf (there are certainly other people offering these services) - then you are likely going to be behind the curve.
To find out more about DECADE, and to purchase the app you can visit Scott's website here.