Case Study

"Clippd helps me and my coach to understand each other better"

Words by
Dan Davies
"Clippd helps me and my coach to understand each other better"

There are significant milestones in every golfer’s life. Josh Hilleard has ticked off a few of them: he got down to scratch at the age of 15, represented England as an amateur and won the prestigious French Amateur Championship. Now he has added his first win as a professional. 

Josh competes on the EuroPro Tour, a feeder circuit for the European Challenge Tour, which itself offers a highly competitive gateway into the DP World Tour. His game has been progressing steadily in recent seasons and last year he recorded a number of top-10s, including a pair of runner-up finishes, which left him just outside the top-five on the EuroPro Order of Merit and the Challenge Tour card that comes with it.

“It's been about little building blocks,” Josh explains. “In 2021, I pretty much did the job and perhaps it was just a case of things going for somebody else on the last day of a tournament.” All that changed in early June at the 54-hole Ignis Management Championship in Shropshire, England.

Josh opened the tournament with a pair of 67s, which left him one shot back of the lead and out in the final group on the last day. The leader got off to a fast start but Josh hung in and reached the turn in three under par. “I stood on the 10th tee and said to myself, 'Okay, let's put nine holes together of the best golf you possibly can and see what happens.’”

"I stood on the 10th tee and said to myself, "Okay, let's put nine holes together of the best golf you can and see what happens.'" Photo: Andy Crook

He did just that, birdieing the 11th and 12th with fine approach shots to be a stroke clear by the time they reached the tee on the par-5 17th. Sensing that his rival would not go for the green with his second, he hit an iron off the tee and laid up to 94 yards, a perfect distance for his strong wedge game. It was a shot he had practised on Trackman only the week before with his coach, Russell Covey.

“I hit a great shot, a little three-quarter sand wedge,” recalls the 27-year-old left hander. “I pitched it just shy of the flag, one skip and then it stopped. I couldn't see the ball so I thought I had hit it long. But it was pin high, six feet.” It was, he says, “a perfect leave”. After his playing partner’s 15-foot birdie putt stopped in the jaws, Josh stepped up and nailed his birdie putt to set up a comfortable walk down 18.

"To be able to get it done over 54 holes with a very respectable number was hugely satisfying," says Josh of his maiden professional win. Photo: Andy Crook

“It’s another rung on the ladder,” he says of the win. “I’ve worked hard for such a long time. I’d done it as an amateur and tried hard and got close as a professional. It’s not that there's any difference in the game, but there is a difference in terms of the quality as a pro. You can see that with a lot of the scores on the EuroPro Tour. They're high quality players, so to be able to get it done over 54 holes with a very respectable number was hugely satisfying.” Josh carded a 65 in his final round. 

Clippd Insights from Josh's final round 65, underlining what a fine performance it was. A Shot Quality of 100 is tour average

The Englishman has been using Clippd since late 2021 and credits the platform with changing own narratives about his game. “What you think is the problem isn't necessarily always the problem,” he says. “You might remember certain shots more than others because they have cost you more, but it could have been the wrong club selection or a mental error. I would say Clippd gives me confirmation of the areas that I've been weak in.”

“What you think is the problem isn't necessarily always the problem”

Russell Covey, an award-winning coach with an impressive track record of working with elite amateur golfers, uses Clippd to see what’s happening with Josh’s game. This is especially useful during the EuroPro Tour season, which sees tournaments taking place almost every week of the summer. Covey is an advocate of smart use of data and while Josh is travelling and competing, Clippd enables him to make constructive interventions.

“Rather than going back to Russell with my opinions and emotions on what I saw and felt, Clippd highlights things,” Josh explains. “Russell can take a look at and try to understand what I'm feeling. He’s getting very good at it, and also at seeing what the results of those shots are giving us. Using Clippd means he can very quickly and efficiently put a plan in place as to what we need to do.”

Josh says the clarity provided in Clippd's feedback allows Covey to dissect whether it's there’s a technique problem or whether it's a confidence or course management issue. “You might be hitting a good shot but it's not actually the best shot or the most consistent shot,” he says. “As well as taking out the emotional side of things, using Clippd for the coach-player relationship means we can understand each other better. So when I'm at tournaments, our communication is better.”

"I want to see what Clippd says compared to what I feel." Photo: Andy Crook

He’s also a fan of the new Clippd Capture app, which allows players to input their round data into the platform. “It’s so much easier, and it’s been one of the biggest changes for me,” he insists. “On the EuroPro, we do our scoring via apps on our phones so basically, I can enter my stats live.” 

Josh has used other data capture systems in the past, sometimes because he had to. One of the problems he found was having to work so hard to find the insights that would drive his improvement. “With Clippd, I don't have to think. I want to see what the software says compared to what I feel. With the recent upgrades, such as being able to record your practice activities, upload Trackman tests and the skills tests Clippd has integrated it so well it's almost too good. I thought that's a genius idea and wondered why nobody thought of it before. It's the way the information is presented that I think makes a big difference.”

Clippd provides confirmation and clarity, which he appreciates. “Your brain is powerful and it can overrule how you feel. To have black and white information to prove yourself wrong is very, very useful.”

Adding further fuel to Josh’s development as a professional golfer is Harvey Hillary, the former Head of High Performance for British Sailing who is now applying Olympic methodology to the golfers with the Trinifold Sports Management group. “Harvey really understands how to get the most out of an individual,” Josh explains. “I'm in contact with him all the time. 

“When things are great, I've got to try and understand what I’m doing and then try to repeat them. It’s the obvious and easy way to recreate form, although it’s not always as easily done. When things go slightly wrong, which they do, it's about trying to understand not only the physical feelings, but the emotions and the mental side, too. It's brilliant to have Harvey as a kind of support and a guide. He's somebody who's been there and done it.”

Josh has three events left of the season and after a slight dip in form he’s now looking to recapture the levels that propelled him to his first professional win. If he can do that, he’ll be able to tick off another milestone: earning his card for the Challenge Tour.