Sleepy Hollow

Year in Review: The 2023 Index Experiment

Grading our collective performance after a year spent in the game improvement trenches

10 months, 4,000 participants, and more than 83,000 rounds boiling down to one singular focus: Play better golf.

The 2023 Index Experiment has come to an end. This year’s efforts highlighted the power of community and accountability, as members chased daylight and distance and lower scores, secure in the knowledge that their fellow Experimenters were doing the same. Now it’s time to observe the results. Here is a data-driven recap of the Broken Tee Society’s season, along with field reports from members and contributors all looking for that extra edge.

Ready to commit to the process next season? Join the 2024 Index Experiment below.

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The Bottom Line

Golf rewards the grinders. It’s a lesson this community learned in many ways, across many channels, for the duration of the year. Progress is anything but linear, and some days it can even look like a setback, but for those who built a plan and stuck to it, improvement was attainable.

But this season also doled out generous helpings of humility. While nearly half of Index Experiment participants got better, few attained the number they set out to reach. Here’s to setting realistic goals and chasing them with renewed vigor in 2024.

TIE Year in Review
TIE year in review

Most Improved Players

Among the 4% of members who achieved their handicap goals shone a few genuine stars. A fivesome this geographically remote could only be achieved in the Broken Tee Society, where patience and grit were rewarded from Finland to Florida.

TIE Year in Review

Long Bombers

It’s unclear if these were downhill, wind-aided, at altitude, or all three, but they’re certainly accurate, thanks to the help of Index Experiment partner Arccos. And with the Stack System now onboard as another tool in the arsenal, next year’s title of BTS Long Bomber is well and truly up for grabs.

TIE year in review

Comeback Players of the Year

Obstacles are a part of every Index Experiment journey. The true test comes in how we overcome them. Here’s to a group of members who battled through the adversity.

Seth Beiden
Starting index: 13.8
Goal index: 12.0
Current index: 9.6

Oct. 31: “I started this year super focused—got fitted, bought new clubs, and went to Sweetens Cove for my 40th birthday. Then, the week after I got back, I took a spill on my bike and suffered a significant AC joint separation—Stage 5, almost mandatory surgery. That would have kept me out for six months. Instead, I made PT my new hobby. I could putt after a month, and chip after two. Fast-forward, AC joint is healing (even though it looks like there’s a ProV1 under my shoulder), I’ve broken 80 twice this year and dropped my index below my goal of 12 to a 9.6.

“I went to Bandon Dunes, the one huge golf trip I can afford each year, a totally new man, new player, new shoulder. AC joint didn’t hold me back—in fact, the short game and forced time off made me focus on the mental game and being thankful. Took over 100 days off from drinking, focused on meditation and sleep. It’s been a ride. This fall, I’m going hardcore into fitness and speed training. The Index Experiment helped and the community has been an outlet for serious golfers that I don’t have in my real life.”

2023 Broken Tee 2-Man Sleepy Hollow
The Broken Tee Society took on Sleepy Hollow in August for the 2023 Broken Tee 2-Man. Photo: Kohjiro Kinno)

Jason Zack

Starting index: 16.1
Goal index: 6.0
Current index: 10.4

Sept. 13: “I had the yips. Starting two or three weeks ago, I genuinely forgot how to hit a golf ball. Lessons, practice, and all fundamentals chucked out the window. I have no clue what happened and I assume it started with one poor swing that compounded on itself. Grinded my way down to a 10.8 index this year and then went out and shot a 95, 94, 109, and 102 consecutively.

Worked through it a couple nights ago and while I’m not back to flushing anything, things are much, much better. Confidence is back. But, holy cow, what a trip the last few weeks have been. Here’s to finishing this season strong and getting down to single digits.”

Cody Stair

Starting index: N/A
Goal index: 20.0
Current index: Working on it

Oct. 13: “I started playing golf in April of 2022. I was instantly addicted and poured way more time and money into improving than any sane adult should. I was excited about the Index Experiment as a way to really improve this year. My goal was to break 100 and then 90. I was on the road to hit those goals. But in late April, not long after the Index Experiment started and only one year into my golfing journey, my left hand went numb.

I thought it was nothing at first. It just felt like my hand was asleep during the day and I’d have to shake it out. But then it decided to not totally wake up. I started to have trouble doing fine motor things like buttoning my pants and texting. I was scared. I’m a software engineer and type for a living. What if I can’t type? What if I have to get on disability? And what if I can never swing a club again?

I went to my family physician. She suspected golfer’s elbow and gave me a steroid shot. My hand didn’t wake up. I went to see a hand surgeon. He immediately diagnosed me with what I suspected: severe carpal tunnel syndrome. He said it was mostly genetic, but the excessive golf may have triggered it to progress faster. As I thought more about it, I realized I’d had mild symptoms for years and hitting thousands of balls off of mats increased the severity.

I had surgery shortly after, and to my great relief, the operation has almost completely alleviated it. I thought I would never play again, which was heartbreaking because it’s how I spent time with my dad. But after surgery, I was putting in two weeks and chipping about a month later. After six weeks, I was able to swing a club again.

I’ve adjusted my approach to golf by avoiding mats and switching to graphite iron and wedge shafts. And I’m just happy to be playing again.

I’m not going to break 90 this month. But I accomplished something close given my injury. My dad and I are members of a practice facility with a nine-hole par-3 course. And in the past month I’ve shot 34 twice, which is better than bogey golf. So I consider this year a success in more ways than one.”

Tour pro and short game instructor Parker McLachlin, known on Instagram as the Short Game Chef, offered up a suite of greenside and putting lessons this season. Spend some time cooking with the Chef. Your short game will thank you.

Mind Game

This is your brain on golf.

In a new TGJ podcast series, host Casey Bannon talks with military decisionmakers, performance coaches, pro athletes and more to unlock the secrets of a stronger mental game.

Mind Game

This is your brain on golf.

In a new TGJ podcast series, host Casey Bannon talks with military decisionmakers, performance coaches, pro athletes and more to unlock the secrets of a stronger mental game.

Helping Hands

Broken Tee Society members get exclusive savings on a number of industry-leading performance brands. Visit your Member Locker to save on everything from speed trainers to rangefinders to nutrition supplements and more.

Arccos Sensors
short game chef
Short Game Chef
Stack system
The Stack

Join Now: Season 2

The grind never stops, and the Broken Tee Society is ready to go lower than ever. 2024 promises new tools, new tips, and new ways to play, feel, and live better. Join the experiment below.

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