Xander Schauffele On Golf AI And The Anatomy Of An Albatross

Xander Schauffele On Golf AI And The Anatomy Of An Albatross

Xander Schauele and his caddie Austin Kaiser bump their fingers.


Stefan Schauffele, one of the tour’s most compelling characters, is no cookie-cutter golf coach. The erudite training philosophies espoused by the eccentric blowing swing-savant stogie, known for foraging fairway-adjacent foliage for a dose of vitamin C, are more in line with Nariyoshi Miyagi than Hank Haney.

When Xander was growing up, Stefan forbade his son from watching a video of his own swing. It forced the future seven-time PGA Tour winner and Olympic gold medalist to identify flaws and make adjustments feeling alone without the crutch of a visual aid – a nifty skill to possess in the chaos of tournament play. .

Another perception-altering technique he employed was to have Alex land punches while blindfolded.

“It’s basically a test of balance. If you can’t see, your other senses will take over. We did this with him from a very young age because it was a conviction that I had. I don’t remember if I read it somewhere, but it made perfect sense to me. I couldn’t tell you how many hours we hit blind balls, but we did it hard,” says the elder Schauffele.

In hindsight, the sight deprivation exercise allowed the golfer to truly trust his swing and learn to clear the ball while helping him develop thick skin.

“Most of the time I was barefoot. People were looking at us really weird when we did it, to be honest,” Xander jokes although he thinks the unorthodox training has been beneficial.

“There is definitely a different feeling to hitting balls with your eyes closed. I’m sure when I was ten I used to cheat on a couple and aim with one eye, but for the most part my dad wanted me to learn where everything is in space and really trust the world. where the ground is and I make good contact with the ball. first,” he adds.

Schauffele’s software partner, Hyland, a leading enterprise content service provider, released a video yesterday showing Xander donning an eye mask while birdie par 3 on a private course in Vegas. Dubbed the “Hyland X Vision Challenge”, the spot aims to highlight the parallels between the power of teamwork and confidence in golf and business.

Ed McQuiston, commercial director of Hyland, notes that Xander always refers to how the team behind him provides invaluable advice and assistance, i.e. how the company views its relationship with its customers. .

“Our customers are inundated with information on how to solve their business problems. I think it’s part of our job to help make sense of it, to tell them where to shoot their shot if you want, and the vision challenge emulates how we perceive our role,” says McQuiston.

Sifting through data points to retrieve actionable insights to make an informed decision is normal for professional golf where terrain characteristics, weather and even a player’s current ranking position can impact each swing decision.

When asked if the rules had been changed to allow golf-savvy AI to help him and his caddie Austin Kaiser make better choices in the round, Xander felt that the wind direction data , essential in determining which chess is safest, would be a game of course management. changer in the tournament game. Even though his caddy is very adept at this, it would eliminate the possibility of human error when measuring gusts.

Earlier this month on the American Express’ final round at PGA West in the Coachella Valley, Xander finished on a par 5 from 226 yards, carding a rare double eagle. The albatross flew over a pond before landing at the edge of the green, taking a few jumps and turning towards the hole. The odds of landing one are 6 million to 1 and it was the first ever recorded on the Stadium Course. If he had only been a foot shorter, he would have slammed into the back of the green complex and slipped into the drink.

Before the shot, there had been a healthy discussion with Austin before deciding to go with a 4 iron. A hybrid would have taken the water out of the picture and a 5 iron would have potentially put them in a safer place, but d After the result, it is clear that the risk/reward analysis was well judged. While the final flight path didn’t exactly match the intended path – the plan was to land it near the flag and swing it into the center – you can’t argue with a dunk.

“The miss on this hole was left, not right with the water. I had this kind of launch pad that I was shooting off, aiming there, and the wind was right to left and varied. Going back to this notion of AI, a robot would have been like ‘it’s variable right now’, which is the worst thing a golfer can hear before hitting,” says Xander.

“Playing is one thing, but I felt like I had a very committed swing, that’s all we can do at the end of the day. The most human mistake there could be in that process is the guy who hits the club. I had a really good swing, it wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but there was enough good information along the way for us to be successful,” he adds.

It’s often said that at the PGA Tour level, closing the deal on a Sunday comes down to more of a battle of wills than a battle of skill, with mental acumen being the biggest differentiator among top players. ranking. Schauffele agrees that the stone-cold mindset plays a role to some degree when it comes to executing in conflict, but it can also be practical fiction as it can often come down to the strength of the team behind this player.

“You never do it alone, there is a team around you. If you look at the best players, the “stone killers”, they have a lot of support: whether it’s a mental coach, a really good swing coach, a really good physio, a better caddy or a really supportive wife. The list goes on, even a guy doing blood tests to make sure you’re healthy. There are so many great roles that happen almost in obscurity that we’re that person on TV that doesn’t seem too phased.

His attitude on what will be the end result of the ongoing rift between LIV and the PGA Tour, which continues to consume most of the oxygen around the sport, is refreshing and positive. Schauffele argues that when we look back at this period in golf history, we can view this time more as the start of a new growth spurt than an existential crisis.

“Golf was all over ESPN during this turbulent time and a lot of money was poured into golf. Was it ideal, probably not. In ten years was that a good thing for the sport? Can- be. It’s pretty early and there’s a lot of moving parts and head-butting, but I like to watch the glass half full rather than half empty. You have to break down to grow and maybe that our sport will grow because of it,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *